June 30, 2009

Westminster Abbey Competition for the Design of a New "Corona"

The London Times reports on a (possibly) exciting competion to complete Westminster Abbey's long unfinished crossing spire. The Abbey, site of coronations and royal weddings for nearly a millenia, has over time been added upon and improved by the likes of Sir Chrisopher Wren and George Gilbert Scott. However, the spires and towers proposed by numerous architects for the crossing have never been built. The crossing now is to be surmounted by a "corona" to mark the 75th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and likely to celebrate the crowning of the Prince of Wales as King Charles III.

The Corona would replace the small pyrimidial crossing cap seen today.

Now since Prince Charles is likely to be at least personally interested in this project, one has to wonder who will be chosen to submit the design and what will the design be like? Will the Royal Institute of British Architects reign supreme over this project and demand a modernist scheme? Will the nonsensical preservationist criteria of designing in a markedly different style (meaning exclusively modern) be trotted out?

Or will sanity be preserved and the design be classical/gothic and be more sympathetic to the historic church? Given the amount of vitriol and venom recently spewed in the direction of the Prince for his offering of an opinion on the Chelsea Barracks plan, one is likely to see the level of attack on classical architecture and Prince himself to reach a fevered pitch. If a classical scheme by Quinlan Terry is even part of the discussion, the charges of royal interference in the benighted practice of architecture (as if patrons don't have a choice), and how Prince Charles is singlehandedly trying to destroy architecture.
Could a design such as this top the famous royal church?

However I think HRH will yet again appeal to the common sense of beauty and tradition in the face of such barbs, and will yet again be backed not by the popularity of the architectural elite, but of his people. The Abbey has yet to unveil the designs for the corona, so there is still reason to hope that a classical design will be chosen, far better hope than we might have here in the US in a similar situation. The tide is changing in England, and as I've said before, it is in no small part due to the Prince's good opinion and taste for the traditional and classical beauty found still in Britain.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep Sir Richard Rodgers and his historicist Bauhaus schtick the hell away from this project.

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