A Collection Of Architecture Essay Examples

A Collection Of Architecture Essay Examples
The Greek Revival and the Gothic Revival are terms that carry specific meanings in relation to the history of architecture. What did they represent at the time and what was the nature of the conflict between the respective adherents?
The Gothic Revival representedchiefly two things: firstly, in its earlier form, it was a Romantic celebrationin stone of the spirit and atmosphere of the Middle Ages; secondly, in itslater and more serious form, the Gothic Revival reflected the architectural andphilosophical conviction of its exponents that the moral vigour of the MiddleAges was reflected in its Gothic architecture, and that the reintroduction ofthis Gothic style of architecture to eighteenth-century society couldre-invigorate it morally. Neo-Gothic architecture in its earlier forms,typified by buildings such as Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill, wascharacterized by a highly ornamental, decadent, visually powerful and intricatestyle; and, what is more, a style that cared little for functionalism or strictadherence to specific structures. By these characteristics Neo-Gothicarchitecture encapsulated the Romantic literary and poetic spirit of the age,as had been evinced in the works of men like Horace Walpole, Alfred Tennysonand Sir Walter Scott. In this sense, the Neo-Gothic was a nostalgic andsentimental backward glance. In a different sense the Gothic Revivalrepresented the attempt of certain architects and churchmen to transfer theliturgical vigour of Gothic churches of the Middle Ages to the eighteenthcentury by capturing it in stone. Thus men like Augustus Pugin and John Ruskincame to argue that the Gothic Revival represented a standard of moralexcellence that was to be practised and imitated as widely as possible.

The Greek Revival grew out ofthe neoclassicism movement, and represented in essence an attempt by itsadherents to find in the architecture of antiquity a form of architecture thatcorresponded to the principles of reason and order emerging from their own Ageof Reason and Enlightenment. Neoclassicism, and the Greek Revival inparticular, represented a pursuit for architectural and intellectual truth. Anarchitect could perceive in the forms of antiquity principles of excellentreasoning and intelligence that prevailed in the rationalistic spirit of hisown age, and by reinvigorating the ancient style the neoclassical architectcould build buildings that were inspired by and inspired in others principlesof reason and rationality. Neoclassicism and the Greek Revival conflicted withthe Gothic Revival because they perceived the moral truths claimed by theGothic revivalists as chiefly illusory and false. The Gothic Revival was, inthe neo-classicist's eyes, a decadent celebration of style over substance thatelevated illusion and ornament above reason and truth. Neo-Gothic architectswere seemingly content to produce endless copies and weak imitations of Gothicstyle merely to please frivolous aristocrats; neo-classicists however believedthat their architecture was a creative act that gave birth to constantly newadaptations of the classical model. Neo-Gothic architects in turn conflictedwith neoclassicism because it was cold and devoid of emotion, feeling or moralpurpose; its elite attitude rendered any collaboration between the two stylesmost difficult.

Art historians divide theGothic Revival into two stages, and each of these stages came to representquite different ideas. The first stage of the Gothic revival was characterizeda 'raw' and na?ve imitation of Gothic architecture that lacked either anarchitectural philosophy or a coherent system of organization. The firstbuilding of this early type was Lord Horace Walpole's villa Strawberry Hillwhich was built in 1747; another prominent early specimen was Fonthill Abbey designedand built by James Wyatt. Both of these buildings, in the spirit of Walpole'satmospheric novel Castle of Otranto (Walpole, 2004), were attempts to preservein stone the Romantic atmosphere of the Middle Ages; both also demonstratedperhaps more clearly than any other buildings of this time the impracticalityand lack of structure of much Neo-Gothic building. This first flourishing ofNeo-Gothic architecture was extended into the public sphere also: for instancein the new Houses of Parliament designed and built by Sir Charles Barry andA.W. Pugin. In America too, this nascent Neo-Gothic style was reflected inbuildings such as Richard Upjohn's Trinity Church built in New York in 1840 andRenwick's St. Patrick's Cathedral also built in New York. The picturesquequality and organization of many of these buildings led to applause for itsRomantic splendour, but also much criticism for its lack of substance and for itsunfaithful imitation of the original Gothic form.

If the first stage of theGothic Revival lacked diligent observation and restoration of Gothicarchitecture or philosophical principles, then serious efforts were made at theturn of the century to ground the movement more securely upon such principles. The'late' period of Neo-Gothic is thus characterized by a stricter adherence tomedieval architectural form and to a philosophical interpretation that viewedGothic architecture as a paragon of moral virtue and excellence. In England twomen were of foremost importance in the development of this second stage: A.Pugin and J. Ruskin. (In France, Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Due played anequally important role). By this time, architects were no longer content tomerely imitate Gothic forms and designs, but sought to create original worksfounded upon the principles of the original Gothic architecture and whichfitted to the particular circumstances of nineteenth-century society.

Thus at the turn of thenineteenth-century it is possible to observe a clear evolution in the form ofthe Gothic Revival away from the loose sentimentality and picturesque qualityof the early period and towards a style of dominated by precise architecturalimitation of Gothic form as made possible by detailed and comprehensiveinvestigations into this style. One such early investigation was John Carter's TheAncient Architecture of England (Carter, 1795) which was the first workthat recorded with extensive detail and exactitude the Gothic style of medievalbuildings; Thomas Rickman's An Attempt to Discriminate the Styles of EnglishArchitecture (Rickman, 1817) gave an extensive account of the varieties ofGothic styles, whilst Pugin's Specimens of Gothic Architecture (Pugin,1821) deepened and extended the range and accuracy of these initialinvestigations. Nonetheless, despite the great advances that had been made inthe scholarship of the Gothic Revival, the actual building of Gothic buildingsremained for some time in the earlier ornamental style that characterized thefirst period of the movement -- famous examples being Windsor Castle which wasrestored in 1824 by Sir Jeffrey Wyatville, and King's College Cambridge in 1827to 1831. The greatest use of the Neo-Gothic style at this time was however forchurch buildings -- the style being cheaper and easier to construct thanneoclassical designs.

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