Free Plan for the 1850s: Forgotten Imagined Architectures from Mid-Century
|Published in:||Architectural History, 2014, v. 57|
This study focuses on two little-known mid-nineteenth-century pamphlets which proposed radical changes to the ways in which large public and administrative buildings were planned. Although one author went to some lengths to remain anonymous, the other was soon to become recognized and respected as a major critic and historian of architecture. These ideas were thus by no means the fantasies of peripheral dreamers. Indeed, they were possible, practical solutions to current problems which used both proven and emerging technologies. Both authors advocated deep, top-lit, single-storey, ‘universal', undifferentiated and continuous space as the best way to plan museums, libraries and offices, supported by clearly articulated reasoning. In so doing, they advanced arguments more usually associated with the open planning and ‘free' plans of twentieth-century Modern architecture; they anticipated ideas put forward independently over three-quarters of a century later. The authors appropriated strategies already rehearsed in contemporary buildings that had been conceived for commercial, horticultural and industrial uses. They also understood how new technologies of construction and servicing developed outside the fields of public and representational buildings could help make the spaces in these types comfortable and environmentally acceptable.
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