Born in 1946, Leon Krier is an award-winning Luxembourgish architect, architectural theorist and urban planner.
Why are we telling you about him? Well, he is the acclaimed masterplanner of Poundbury!
His successes span decades and he had great influence over the New Urbanism movement in both Europe and the USA, culminating in him being recognised from the late 1970’s as one of the most influential modern traditional architects and planners.
Krier’s introduction to Dorset began in 1988 when HRH Prince Charles appointed him to create plans for a ‘walkable’ urban village and suburban development. In 1993 following public consultations, the local planning authority approved Kier’s master plan and construction of what is now known as Poundbury began.
His vision for Poundbury included 19th century Viennese influences and a focus on a predominantly pedestrianised town. Roads were designed to encourage a natural traffic calming effect with well-connected streets and squares yet joined via irregular and winding roads. Uniquely, the placement of the houses predetermines the road layout and not vice versa, and the result is not only practical, but has produced an aesthetically pleasing layout with residential properties situated side-by-side to amenities and businesses, encouraging residents and visitors to walk around Poundbury rather than drive.
Far from wanting to rid the town of cars, Kier’s designs ensured the properties housed their vehicles on site – and parking in and around the town is certainly not unheard of as of course a modern day necessity, it’s just been cleverly devised so the area is foot-friendly – residents have the choice whether to drive or not.
It would be naive to believe Kier’s masterplan has not received some negativity – but mainly from outside influences keen to question his designs. For those visiting, Kier’s plans have promoted wry smiles as indeed the town plainly works as he intended.
Kier’s masterplan of Poundbury is still a talking point today, and will surely continue to be dissected long past it’s completion date of 2025, yet so eloquently cited here by the FT: “Poundbury can no longer be dismissed as a mere “Quality Street”, chocolate-box vision of England. It hasn’t got everything right and it doesn’t provide all the answers. But, like an awkward teenager who makes some mistakes along the way, it is growing into something with stature and a life of its own. It is impossible to find another housing estate built in the past quarter century that is as richly textured, as intricate, as convincing as a whole, and which is getting better not worse with age.” - a quote Kier surely raised a wry smile to, as Poundbury continues to bloom into its stunningly successful adulthood.
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