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Architecture - Representative Of Through

( Originally Published Early 1900's )


A building, in just as true a sense as a poem, a symphony, a picture, or a statue, is the embodied expression of an idea. In architecture, this idea is a plan. It is sown, so to speak, in a particular locality; and there straightway it springs into walls, branches into wings, leaves into doors and windows, flowers into capstones and roofs, and sometimes filaments into spires.—The Representative Significance of Form, XXIV.

If the internal arrangements are to determine the external ones, as must evidently be the case in all logical construction, then, in the degree in which this principle is carried out artistically, i. e., in such a way as to be made apparent in the form, that which is on the inside must be represented on the outside. In other words, a building to be made expressive of the thought, which, in this case, would mean the design of the artist, must have an external appearance which manifests the internal plan. Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture as Representative Arts, XVIII.

Walls in which there are doors, windows, and projections such as pilasters, pillars, buttresses, or string-courses,—and the same is true of foundations, porches, and roofs,—awaken as much more interest than do blank walls, as bodies do when infused with a soul having the power to express thought and feeling than they do when they are merely corpses. Of course, too, the more clearly the architectural features reveal not only that there is thought and purpose behind them, but what this thought and purpose is, the more successful is the result.—Idem, XVIII.

A traveler, judging merely from appearances, may say with reference to the methods of construction, that some particular pillar, bracket, lintel, arch, was shaped and placed as it is in order to furnish just the support needed for some particular weight or arrangement of material which is over it. Or he may say that some particular foundation was laid as it is in order to suit some particularly rocky, sandy, or marshy soil; or that some particular roof was pitched as it is in order to fit a dry or a wet climate, to shed rain or snow. Or, judging from arrangements of doors or windows, he may say, with reference to the general uses of a building, that some particular part is an audience hall, a chapel, or a picture gallery. Even if he find nothing except foundations, he can often declare this to be a theatre, and that to be a temple, or a bath, or a private house; and not only so, but sometimes, as at Pompeii, he can tell the uses of each of the different rooms of the house.

Observe that, in all these ways, it is possible for a building to be representative; moreover, that just in the degree in which it is so, the interest awakened by it is enhanced. It then comes to have the same effect upon us that would be produced did its builder stand by us and tell us exactly what his thoughts were when designing the arrangement that we see. It is as if he were to say: "I had a conception that it would be a good idea in this position to have an arch projected so, or a ceiling supported by a bracket inserted so; or a foundation in soil like this laid so; or a roof in a climate like this shaped so; or a chapel for a sect like this planned so; or an audience hall for an assembly like this arranged so." And the more one knows of architecture, the more innumerable will he recognize to be the thoughts, and, in the degree in which ornamentation is increased, the aesthetic feelings that it is possible for the architect to represent through these apparently lifeless forms of wood or brick or stone.—Idem, XVII.


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