By Timothy J. Brittain-Catlin
The traditional historical past of structure is a grand narrative of hovering monuments and heroic makers. however it is additionally a fake narrative in lots of methods, infrequently acknowledging the private disasters and disappointments of architects. In Bleak Houses, Timothy Brittain-Catlin investigates the bottom of structure, the tales of losers and unfulfillment frequently overlooked by means of an architectural feedback that values novelty, repute, and virility over fallibility and rejection.
As architectural feedback promotes more and more slender values, disregarding convinced kinds wholesale and subjecting structures to a Victorian litmus try of "real" as opposed to "fake," Brittain-Catlin explains the impression this superficial criticality has had not just on architectural discourse yet at the caliber of constructions. the truth that so much constructions obtain no severe scrutiny in any respect has ended in tremendous stretches of grotesque smooth housing and a pervasive public illiteracy approximately architecture.
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Additional info for Bleak houses : disappointment and failure in architecture
Yet the interesting thing about his selection is that none of them is really a failure; they are successes who are most interesting when they fail. In this sense, which is evidently not ours, the Italian baroque architect Francesco Borromini was a failure, and that is how Rudolf and Margot Wittkower described him and others in Born under Saturn. At any rate, architectural losers can likewise be divided into categories which themselves establish the ways in which we can best appreciate what it was that they achieved; we can work out what battles they thought they were fighting and how it is that we can go about discovering what is challenging, interesting, moving, elegant, and beautiful in their architecture.
Thirdly, many of his buildings have disappeared—a fine pair of French-looking houses he designed in Smith Square in Westminster lasted scarcely twenty years, but quite a few of his smaller houses have disappeared too. Some others have been mutilated. But Field suffered professional indignities at the time he was working, too, and perhaps because of his own judgment. There are so many that it is difficult to know where to start. His splendid neo-baroque buildings went up before the style became popular; everyone knows that Edwin Lutyens moved from arts and crafts to “Wrenaissance” about a decade after Field had given it up—in 1906, at Heathcote, the large house he designed in Ilkley in Yorkshire—so to know that Field had been and gone beforehand spoils the triumphant, teleological narrative of one of the great masters of architecture.
6 Nobody knows whether Field fell out with his various associates, or owed his success to them; or was too nice or insufficiently ambitious to develop an assertive, growing practice. Alternatively, for that matter, whether he was too bad-tempered, or difficult to deal with. In fact little seems to be known about his personal and social life beyond his childless marriage to an artist. I have no idea whether Field saw himself as a failure, and for our purposes it does not matter either way. We can all imagine that he heard that epiphonic fanfare, time and time again; and yet nothing substantial, no real fame, no real place in the history books, ever came out of it.
Bleak houses : disappointment and failure in architecture by Timothy J. Brittain-Catlin