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House of Futures Past

Prince Charles, long an advocate of sustainability in architecture—including the use of natural building materials and the planting of organic gardens, but very conservative on the aesthetic side, preferring the Tudor era to the Bauhaus—has unveiled what Building Design calls an "experimental eco-house" that will soon go on display in England. The project was produced by the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment.

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As Building Design goes on to explain, a key motivation behind the design was to offer "a challenge to house builders and the government to build homes in a radically different way once the economy recovers."

For the time being, it will be on public display on the grounds of the fascinating BRE Innovation Park in Watford, England. That Park is a testing ground for sustainable architecture, with new house designs tested out on a continual basis for their energy performance, construction quality, and long-term weathering.

But is the Prince's new model home too stylistically conservative? After all, some commentators have likened it to the 19th-century designs of neoclassicist Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Or is a dose of traditional aesthetics, wed with modern-day construction techniques and material performance, something sustainable architectural design now needs?

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