Georgian architecture, it was revealed in a survey, is one of the most preferred places for Brits to live in, as it makes them happy. And why not? In fact, other towns listed in the same survey as the “20 nicest places to live in the UK” such as Cambridge, Oxford and Skipton, all featured Georgian housing.
More survey suggests that beautiful British architecture such as mansion blocks and terraces which have Victorian and Georgian roots actually contribute to our happiness level. Well, surprise surprise! Beauty has the ability to make people really happy.
So why is it that authorities at both the national and local level are not doing enough to make more town centres like Cambridge or Edinburgh, so that beautiful architecture is more readily accessible to people?
Just imagine if certain areas in Birmingham were as eye-catching as Bath or if Manchester started to look a bit like Prague.
The fact that beautiful and alluring architecture makes us happy is further backed by an increase in prices for traditional buildings. One study revealed that completely neo-traditional homes actually sell for 15% more than their completely non-traditional counterparts.
Why Aren’t There More British Cities Like Edinburgh or York?
Why aren’t all British cities beautiful and more importantly, why isn’t this beauty affordable for everyone?
Well, some architects simply prefer innovation over tradition. A survey conducted by a psychologist in the late 80s revolved around students rating building architecture according to attractiveness. It was revealed that even though most participants had similar preferences, the architecture students actually rated every other individual’s favourite as their least favourite. Rather interesting, wouldn’t you say?
In a way, this makes complete sense – folks who study music usually prefer unpopular and more idiosyncratic artists than what you’d typically hear over the local radio stations. However, there could very well be a status aspect at play here. You see, anyone can claim to fall in love with a Rembrandt, and “unloved architecture” actually sends pretty much the same message.
There is a much bigger problem though and that has to do with British planning law – under this law, Georgian architecture isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to build, given the regulations.
Make Beauty Available to All!
One solution is to do away with planning regulations completely, so that at least London has utter control over what it wants to build, especially if it has the power to opt out of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947.
Since the Tories have abandoned the capital anyway, the city can build itself up through a more efficient model, complete with Victorian and Georgian styled streets, while allowing the pro-Conservative shrines to continue putting restrictions on what they choose.
This is one way that the British dream of Georgian architecture can be made accessible to majority of Brits if not all. If the next candidate in the 2020 mayoral elections is all up for making beauty accessible and affordable again, you had better cast your vote!