Richard Rogers 'Sustainable' design for Chelsea Barracks

Left: my drawing of a sustainable city. Right: Rogers' drawing for Chelsea Barracks

Left: my drawing of a sustainable city. Right: Rogers' drawing for Chelsea Barracks

The above image shows my drawing of a sustainable city, left, and Richard Rogers design for the Chelsea Barracks, right. The upper part of Rogers’ drawing shows Ranelagh Gardens and the site of the Chelsea Flower Show.  I am of course mildly flattered that Richard Rogers has copied my idea but would like to point out that (1) the decent thing in cases like this is to acknowledge one’s sources, or offer a copyright fee (2) my drawing was a caricature, intended to show what should not be done in the name of sustainability (3) Rogers omitted the two redeeming features of my scheme: the green roofs were devoted to urban food production and the cyclist-friendly nature of the design proposal.

I was therefore very relieved to hear that,  after some caustic remarks by Prince Charles, the Qatari Royal family have decided not to go ahead with Rogers’ context-insensitive design. It makes ‘Plan Voisin’ mistakes without Corbusier’s flowing, if ill-conceived, parkland.  Rogers’ blocks are far too close together and  would have created some horribly narrow passageways.

Roger’s response to Prince Charles’ intervention has been to accuse him of constitutional impropriety. On this occasion, it is Rogers and his buddies from the architectural mafia, who have gone bonkers. It would be a sad day for democracy if the future King of England were banned from speaking his mind on the urban landscape of his capital city. What’s more, Prince Charles is very probably ‘speaking for England’ in the sense that more people hate than love Rogers’ paltry plagiarism of my idea. See Hugh Pearman’s blog for more details of this sorry affair. I am wondering if I should ask the University of Greenwich to withdraw the honorary doctorate it awarded to Richard Rogers, though he gave a good speech and was a very pleasant lunch guest.

5 thoughts on “Richard Rogers 'Sustainable' design for Chelsea Barracks

  1. Ben Olam

    If I recall correctly, your drawing of a sustainable city’ illustrates a joyless scenario and I am sure that is not the intention of R.R., but I am sure that this would have been the effect. Shaded, joyless chasms between buildings repeated one after the other.

  2. Tom Turner Post author

    I am pretty sure joyless chasms are not Rogers’ stated intention (!) but as so often with professionals who have ‘got’ the environment message ‘The first temptation is the greatest treason, to do the wrong deed for the right reason’
    TS Eliot had Beckett say, in Murder in the Cathedral, that:
    Now is my way clear, now is the meaning plain:
    Temptation shall not come in this kind again.
    The last temptation is the greatest treason:
    To do the right deed for the wrong reason.

    With Rogers attempted murder of urban design in Chelsea, the motivation is clear: to overdevelop the Barracks for a pure and simple motive: filthy lucre.

  3. Christine

    ps. The text suggests there is an impact of ‘shadowing’ from ocean structures…the relocateable option might assist with this problem.


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