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199 pages, Paperback
First published December 1, 1961
A city is more than the sum of its inhabitants. It has the power to generate a surplus of amenity, which is one reason why people like to live in communities rather than in isolation.
Now turn to the visual impact which a city has on those who live in it or visit it. I wish to show that an argument parallel to the one put forward above holds good for buildings: bring people together and they create a collective surplus of enjoyment; bring buildings together and collectively they can give visual pleasure which none can give separately. (7)
Suppose, however, that we take over this linking as a branch of the art of relationship; then we are finding a tool with which human imagination can begin to mould the city into a coherent drama. (9)
it is an instinctive and continuous habit of the body to relate itself to the environment, this sense of position cannot be ignored; it becomes a factor in the design of the environment...
it is easy to see how the whole city becomes a plastic experience, a journey through pressures and vacuums, a sequence of exposures and enclosures, of constraint and relief. (10)
Statistics are abstracts: when they are plucked out of the completeness of life and converted into plans and the plans into buildings they will be lifeless. The result will be a three-dimensional diagram in which people are asked to live. In trying to colonize such a wasteland, to translate it from an environment for walking stomachs into a home for human beings, the difficulty lay in finding the point of application, in finding the gateway into the castle. We discovered three gateways, that of motion, that of position and that of content. By the exercise of vision it became apparent that motion was not one simple, measurable progression useful in planning, it was in fact two things, the Existing and the Revealed view. We discovered that the human being is constantly aware of his position in the environment, that he feels the need for a sense of place and that this sense of identity is coupled with an awareness of elsewhere. Conformity killed, whereas the agreement to differ gave life. In this way teh void of statistics, of the diagram city, has been split into two parts, whether they be those of Serial Vision, Here and There or This and That. All that remains is to join them together into a new pattern created by the warmth and power and vitality of human imagination so that we build the home of man. (12, New Delhi 1959)
here and there: The first category of relationships (pinpointing, change of level, vistas, narrows, closure, etc.) is concerned with the interplay between a known here and a known there. The second category will be concerned with a known here and an unknown there... (35)
silhouette... By now we are all pretty conversant with the slab block building with its uncompromising roof line...whereas the tracery, the filigree, the openwork ridge capping all serve to net the sky, so that as the building soars up into the blue vault it also captures it and brings it down to the building. this capacity to net the sky is particularly rewarding in the fog and mists of England. (40)
grandiose vista: ...it links you, in the foreground at Versailles, to the remote landscape, thus producing a sense of power or omnipresence. (41)
handsome gesture, projection and recession, incident
fluctuation: ... The typical town is not a pattern of streets but a sequence of spaces created by buildings.
undulation: Undulation is not just an aimless wiggly line; it is the compulsive departure from an unseen axis or norm, and its motive is delight in such proofs and essences of life as light and shade (the opposite of monochrome), or nearness and distance (the opposite of parallelism). (46)
anticipation: We now turn to those aspects of here and there in which the here is known but the beyond is unknown, is infinite, mysterious, or is hidden inside a black maw. (49)
the maw: Black, motionless and silent, like a great animal with infinite patience, the maw observes nonchalant people passing to and fro in the sunlight. This is the unknown which utter blackness creates. (52)
This explosion resembles nothing so much as a disturbed ant-hill with brightly enamelled ants moving rapidly in all directions, toot-toot, pip-pip, hooray. (57)
thisness: Here and throughout the next fourteen pages we try to establish the idea of typicality, of a thing being itself...That character may be rich and very variously expressed -- secrecy, entanglement, exposure, illusion, even absence...(62)
intricacy: This quality is perhaps least understood (or the least demonstrated) in present day building, which seems to stop dead at the obvious, the slab block, the gridiron of curtain walling, the banality of pastel-shaded surfaces giggling down from the sky. But the quality of intricacy absorbs the eye. It is an extra dimension... (65)
Town squares, once the preserve of privilege, have since the wartime salvage of railings become public spaces. (97)
One of the war's advantages was that the removal of many kinds of not strictly essential fencing had something of the effect of the removal of restrictions; they opened out prospects of a more freely flowing world. (123)
severely restricted the right of free assembly. To congregate, to be able to stop and chat, to feel free out of doors may not seem very important compared to the pressing needs of transport, but it is one of the reasons people live in town and not by themselves -- to enjoy the pleasure of being sociable. Whereas the distinction between in and out doors should be one of degree and kind, it has now become the difference between sanctuary and exposure.
From the visual standpoint the greatest single loss suffered is neutralization of the floor, the space between buildings, which has changed from a connecting surface to a dividing surface. (128)
Even if you lived in the prettiest of towns the message is still just as necessary: there is an art of environment. This is the central fact of TOWNSCAPE but it has got lost on the way...On the one hand it has devolved into cobbles and conservation, and on the other it has hived off into outrage and visual pollution. (193)
From what base do we set out? The only possibly base is to set down the ways in which the human being warms to his surroundings. To set down his affirmations. Not the grandiose views on Art or God or the Computer, but the normal affirmations about our own lives. It may help to observe human response to living itself. (194)