Category Archives: Comment

On Recent Proposals for Rebuilding the Roof and Spire of Notre Dame

Within a month of the destruction by fire of the roof and flèche (crossing spire) of Notre Dame in Paris, proposals by architects for their replacement abound. Why are these designs so awful? The answer is simple: they lack respect. … Continue reading

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On Gentlemen and William Morris

Some of William Morris’s bon mots have not worn well. In the local gift shop they have chalked up the phrase ‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’. But … Continue reading

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The Bridge on the River Kwai

I was reading an article about the 1974 V&A exhibition about the Destruction of the Country House. It cited a Guardian review of the time, to the effect that why should we care that the houses of wealthy (or once … Continue reading

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The Restoration of Chartres Cathedral

Looking back at the controversy over the restoration of Chartres cathedral, and a look at some commentary available on-line: an article in the Spectator in 2012 by Alasdair Palmer (http://www.spectator.co.uk/arts/arts-feature/7836868/restoration-tragedy/), a blog by Martin Filler in the New York Review … Continue reading

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On Fabriques and Monstrous Future Ruins

‘Someone, he [Austerlitz] added, ought to draw up a catalogue of types of buildings listed in order of size, and it would be immediately obvious that domestic buildings of less than normal size—the little cottage in the fields, the hermitage, … Continue reading

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The Impossibility of Australian Architectural Connoisseurship

‘An Australian, however well-informed, simply cannot distinguish between a piece of Trust House timbering and a genuine Tudor building; an Englishman however uncultured knows at once …’. [Evelyn Waugh to John Betjeman, cited in A.N. Wilson’s Biography of Betjeman, 2007, … Continue reading

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