Discourses on Architecture - Vol. 2

Discourses on Architecture - Vol. 2

Discourses on Architecture - Vol. 2

Discourses on Architecture - Vol. 2

Excerpt

In the times of Classical Antiquity, as also during the Middle Ages, there was perhaps no product of human intelligence which more clearly indicated the social condition and aptitudes of a people than their method of building. Nothing but the conflision of ideas existing in modern times, and a long succession of false teaching, could have brought about the chaotic state of things and the inconsistencies presented by our buildings of the present day. It is none the less certain that from this transitional phase there will be evolved architectural methods proper to our age and social condition. It should be the endeavour of all earnest and impartial persons to put an end to this chaos.

If we will consent to regard the works of the past as belonging to the past, -- as steps by which we must pass if we would attain to the knowledge of what is appropriate to our own social condition; if we proceed by way of analysis, and not by that of unreflecting imitation; if amid the accumulated remains of former ages we search for methods that are applicable, and if we know how to determine in what respects they are applicable; in short, if, abandoning effete doctrinal traditions, we rely on our own observation, we shall have opened the way and shall ourselves be able to pursue it.

Subjected to Roman domination, and having almost become Romans, -- at least as regards a considerable part of the territory that now constitutes France, -- we adopted the Roman methods of building. Restored to independence, and invaded by populations whose genius was of an order quite different from that of the Romans, we wavered for several centuries indeterminately between very diverse modes of building. At the end of the eleventh century and the beginning of the twelfth, we went to the East for models, and succeeded in producing a kind of Romano- Greek Renaissance, which was not devoid of merit, but which . . .

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