21 December, 2013: In the most unlikely of places, a murmur of dissent — a handful of people gathered recently at a condemned building in the old Art Deco region of Monaco, protesting an old favorite building’s demolition.
Monaco is humorously, if seriously, referred to as a kind of consensual dictatorship – it is governed by Prince Albert II, a 55-year-old former playboy who took over the job after his father, Prince Rainier, died in 2005.
The demonstration appeared more to be an issue of style preference and an ode to an era forgotten in the face of Monaco’s increasingly modern, and some might argue, tasteless propensity for buildings devoid of history and character. Given Monaco’s size, the only way to bring in new construction for the ever —increasingly prosperous principality is to demolish the old and build on top of it. When it was announced that S.B.M, Monaco’s dominant force behind the entertainment and tourism industries, planned on tearing down the Sporting d’Hiver, long known as a holding some of Monaco’s most historically famous charity balls- critics of the plan tried to block it.
A flurry of activity ensued — workers walked off their jobs for an hour strike, and preservationist lobbied with lawmakers at the National Council, journalists wrote highly charged editorials, held public meetings and an online petition of the plan drew over 1,000 signatures.
James Lewis, head of content for www.icon-property.com commented, “It is rare that such an outpouring of public support opposing one of the largest and most visible firms in Monaco comes about. People traditionally hold their status of living and being in Monaco with the unspoken rule of not publically opposing the powers that be.”
“What we are seeing is a question of resident’s being aesthetically involved in the community, which makes sense,” Lewis continues. “Monaco is a principality that houses some of the world’s richest and most talented artists, some of the oldest families with all the class garnered from histories of wealth — and they are letting their voice be heard. Only the future will tell if S.B.M and Prince Albert II will heed the call.”
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