“Tradition in architecture conveys the kind of practical knowledge that is required by neighbourliness.”

Thanks to ro1 for the following article, published by The Journal of the American Enterprise Institute:

### http://www.american.com Sat, 19 Dec 2009
The High Cost of Ignoring Beauty
By Roger Scruton
Architecture clearly illustrates the social, environmental, economic, and aesthetic costs of ignoring beauty. We are being torn out of ourselves by the loud gestures of people who want to seize our attention but give nothing in return.
In Britain, the state, in the form either of local or central government, will tell you whether you can or cannot build on land that you own. And if it permits you to build, it will stipulate not only the purposes for which you may use the building, but also how it should look, and what materials should be used to construct it. Americans are used to building regulations that enforce utilitarian standards: insulation, smoke alarms, electrical safety, the size and situation of bathrooms, and so on. But they are not used to being told what aesthetic principles to follow, or what the neighbourhood requires of materials and architectural details. I suspect that many Americans would regard such stipulations as a radical violation of property rights, and further evidence of the state’s illegitimate expansion.
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Roger Scruton is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is a writer, philosopher, and public commentator, and has written widely on aesthetics, as well as political and cultural issues.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

2 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Politics, Project management, Site, Town planning, Urban design

2 responses to ““Tradition in architecture conveys the kind of practical knowledge that is required by neighbourliness.”

  1. Elizabeth

    Of course, reading this while awaiting the DCC axe to fall – or not fall – on the buildings at 372-392 Princes Street, Dunedin. And the building at 11 Stafford Street.

    Will the council give way to the obliteration of our gold-rush era buildings – for a building proposal with no ascribed tenants and an aesthetic that defies the form, history and spirit of early Dunedin, concentrated as it was around the wharf area at Jetty St… defying District Plan protections and ignoring that the existing buildings can easily be strengthened and redeveloped, to help map the regeneration of the greater Exchange area… oh question mark, question mark, and particularly over precincts we wish to recognise and see flourish.

    Christmas wishes and all that (sigh); the planning decision is due in the New Year.

  2. Elizabeth

    Just because the community, with the council, hasn’t already worked out a long-term vision for the greater Exchange area doesn’t mean we should give in to piecemeal demolition.

    As ‘contextual’ people often say, the developer of Prista Apartments is intent on removing teeth.

    The intended replacement buildings are they the dread amalgam, a time-release poison… or clumsy dentures?

    Dunedin as a heritage city is not this because of the number of Category I listed buildings (a more ad hoc, arbitrary and unrepresentative selection does not exist), regard must be had for the encompassing historic urban fabric (sites, spaces, structures and buildings from the nineteenth, twentieth and twentyfirst centuries) when we consider possibilities for the future economic success, charm and authenticity of Dunedin’s CBD. [NO, this is not saying “no new design”.]

    Gravitas is a good word, let’s apply it to the research, applications and processes of urban regeneration – here, in Dunedin.

    Cheapening our city blocks and precincts is not about “fit”, it isn’t part of the greater equation of procuring prosperity. Sustainability and success are fostered by recognising the prestige and uniqueness of a place, for and by the people.

    “Mr Prista” has not sufficiently weighed the cumulatve adverse effects of his proposal against the area’s past, present and future potential. How sad is his ‘gift’ to the city, if met.

    Shortsightedness is our collective burden – it’s not welcome here, it’s not a triumph or a goal.

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