Essays in Architecture: Aspects of the development of Gothic and Arts & Crafts in Great Britain
After the three centuries of condemned state, Gothic architecture stood in revival in Great Britain. AWN Pugin and writings from Kenneth Clark, who wrote the Gothic Revival in 1928, championed the fashion and started a craze in English housing. Mainly seen in “garden novelty” with Strawberry hill, which was seen as a remodelling of the “gentleman’s residence”.
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812–52) acted as the protagonist of the lobby, mainly stating his opinions for the Gothic, plainly, in three aspects: 1.) it was English, 2.) it was Christian, 3.) it was Truthful. All three has no actual direct comment on the architectural aspect of the Gothic, about the idea of form, materiality, space and craft of the work. This brings to light the idea of nationalism, religion and morals of the time. It is important to note that AWN Pugin was an adapted Catholic who supported the transcendent principles of the middle ages.
It is important to consider the other influences, especially in Germany with the wake of the Deutscher Werkbund and the early years of the Bauhaus. You can say that modernism was at its infant stages and starting to grasp the next generation of architects, focused on the ideals of material, function and truth in materials and space.
In a way, with the ideals of modernism, the Arts and Crafts movement in Britain responded to the disdain of ornamentation in design and architecture in the country. This came about after the World Exhibition of 1851 in London, where British designers and craftsmen admired the “originality and integrity” of Asian and Islamic countries. The influential writings of Ruskin, Viollet-le-Duc and Semper became the foundation of European architectural discussion and practice for the rest of the remaining century.
all cast machine work is bad, as work … it is dishonest
British designers and architects were at the forefront of the arts and crafts, focusing on the principles of “sound craftsmanship, hones building and the introduction of good design” into British life. Notable works from Ruskin, Morris, Voysey and Scott were of good reference for this time, emphasising “truthfulness in material and craft”. For example, the main quote for Ruskin at this time was, “all cast machine work is bad, as work … it is dishonest”. One of the most notable examples of the movement is the Glasgow School of Art (est. 1845), designed by Charles Renne Macintosh. It boasted the early ideas of modernism with a lack of ornamentation without reason and simple forms and symmetry.