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Classical archtitecture

Rhythm and ‘cues’

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Music creates order out of chaos: for rhythm imposes unanimity upon the divergent, melody imposes continuity upon the disjointed, and harmony imposes compatibility upon the incongruous                                                                                                     Yehudi Menuhin

This is an exercise that I show to my first year architectural history students, in the attempt to have them understand some of the values inherent to the knowledge of architectural history. This reasonably iconic Wellington building, when analysed in relation to the rhythm of its fenestration and major vertical elements, I argue, is a good example of notions of symmetry and rhythm in Classical architecture, which are strongly (perhaps jarringly?) juxtaposed here with a more modern development arising from the old (it is not difficult to distinguish the two).

The new development does, however, reference the rhythm of the building upon which it is based, but not in a sympathetic, or even ‘harmonious’ manner. The question is, when reduced down to the basic elements such as this, is the attempt facile, or is it very clever and appropriate to contemporary ideas of architecture, and, perhaps, the irony of ‘sympathetic’ interventions to ‘heritage’ buildings and/or streetscapes? I’m actually yet to decide…

When the actual building is revealed (which it is after the break if you have not guessed it by now), it becomes impossible to judge it objectively when presented by the awful¬†kitschiness¬†of its Postmodernised Classical motifs – but I think there is worth in attempting to do so… Read More

Architectural reasons for dumping the Monarchy…?


Poundbury Fire Station, England: HRH Prince Charles, 2009

Unfortunately the Guardian article that brings this rather strange contemporary building to our attention is dated 31st of March – so I have to assume that it isn’t some April Fool’s Day prank. This is, according to the article, the Prince of Wales’ first attempt at architectural design – a fire station in that weird little¬†phenomenon: Poundbury.

Now, there has been some discussion over at the Fish, relating to the employment of Classical architectural language by various regimes throughout history, but HRH’s uptake of the style is much more bizarre than a simple architecture-as-propaganda¬†motive. Here the Prince seems to be waxing nostalgic for a bygone era of – not royal power – but strictly mannered gentility: a romantic yearning for a bygone era that only ever existed for¬†the¬†few who had the good fortune to be born into nobility…

It’s kind of sweet really (the yearning, not the building) – but¬†what are we to make of this out here in the Dominion of New Zealand, whose Head of State may well end up being Prince Charles? Yes, the role is largely symbolic, but does his utopian conservatism¬†symbolically¬†align with our own self-styled egalitarianism? And what of architectural taste? Perhaps we should have invited the Prince to design our Supreme Court (now there would be a symbolic gesture!) – I am sure he would show us colonials a thing or two about domesRead More