Poundbury is the much-mocked 'urban extension' to Dorchester, Dorset, championed by the Prince of Wales. Started in 1993, and due for completion in 2025, it has divided critics with its high density development, traditional building styles and emphasis on sustainability.
I have visited the site on a number of occasions, and was struck by the overall sense of quality and variety in the townscape. However, the dedication to traditional building styles – classicism and Dorset vernacular – gives the development a strange feeling of being a 'model village' lacking in authenticity. There is a nostalgia for an idealised version of the English town that possibly never existed, a sanitised settlement for the middle classes.
I decided to record buildings with date plaques on their facades. There is a crashing disconnect between the date of construction recorded on the plaques, and the architectural style of the buildings they adorn.
Images are deliberately tightly cropped and slightly awkward, to reflect the sense of claustrophobia that I experienced when I first visited Poundbury.
The project – called Hameau after Marie Antoinette's model hamlet at Versailles – was exhibited in 2011 at the Riverside Gallery, Richmond-upon-Thames, as part of the Brave New Worlds group exhibition. For the exhibition, the images were mounted in a grid, to reference the photographic typology grids of the Bechers.
Hameau reflects my ongoing fascination with urban planning, townscape and utopian developments.