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Essay on the Metaphysics of Architecture

The Architectural Magazine and Journal, Volume III (1836)

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Art & Architecture


Successful Designs for the Houses of Parliament.

place on the side, or the end, of a building with which it shall have little in common.

Thus, then, to render out streets beautiful, each building must not only be beautiful in itself, but must also harmonise with the rest; and in each street there must be but one style and one character. Thus, also, in a whole city or town, though various styles and orders may be used in its streets, yet they must all be so arranged as not to intrude upon one another, and cause confusion. It will be seen at once, that, if the Grecian style, pure and well applied, predominate in such a city or town, the general effect will be grand and magnificent; while, if Gothic predominate, the general effect can be little more than that of the mere beautiful and rich ; or, if Egyptian, that of the ponderous and sublime.

I should appear very extravagant, were I to speak of pulling down our cities, and of rebuilding them according to these principles. Yet I am not afraid to say that the incalculable expense and labour which such a proceeding would require, would not be greater than the benefits which would accrue from it to our minds, in refining and exalting our ideas. Perhaps there are few who will coincide with me in such an opinion ; but, however that may be, I shall conclude with expressing my hope that, before long, our ideas will become so refined, and our sensibilities so acute, with regard to architecture, that we shall not be content until we have none of its works around us but those that are either grand or beautiful.

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