Figs. 29 through 34 Figs. 29 through 34

We may carry out this a little further by imagining a varied treatment on plan of a marked-out space of a certain size and proportion, on which a church of some kind, for instance, is to be placed. The simplest idea is to inclose it round with four walls as a parallelogram (Fig. 30), only thickening the walls where the weight of the roof principals comes. But this is a plan without an idea in it. The central or sacred space at the end is not expressed in the plan, but is merely a railed-off portion of the floor. The entrance is utterly without effect as well as without shelter. If we lay out our plan as in Fig. 31, we see that there is now an idea in it. The two towers, as they must evidently be, form an advanced guard of the plan, the recessed central part connecting them gives an effective entrance to the interior; the arrangement in three aisles gives length, the apse at the end incloses and expresses the sacrarium, which is the climax and object of the plan. The shape of the ground, however, is not favorable to the employment of a long or avenue type of plan, it is too short and square; let us rather try a plan of the open area order, such as Fig 32. This is based on the short-armed Greek cross, with an open center area; again there is an "advanced guard" in the shape of an entrance block with a porch; and the three apses at the end give architectural emphasis to the sacrarium. Fig. 35 is another idea, the special object of which is to give an effect of contrast between the entrance, approached first through a colonnaded portico, then through an internal vestibule, lighted from above, and flanked by rows of small coupled columns; then through these colonnaded entrances, the inner one kept purposely rather dark, we come into an interior expanding in every direction; an effect of strong contrast and climax. If our plot of ground again be so situated that one angle of it is opposite the vista of two or more large streets, there and nowhere else will be the salient angle, so to speak, of the plan, and we can place there a circular porch - which may, it is evident, rise into a tower - and enter the interior at the angle instead of in the center; not an effective manner of entering as a rule, but quite legitimate when there is an obvious motive for it in the nature and position of the site. A new feature is here introduced in the circular colonnade dividing the interior into a central area and an aisle.

Each of these plans might be susceptible of many different styles of architectural treatment; but quite independently of that, it will be recognized that each of them represents in itself a distinct idea or invention, a form of artistic arrangement of spaces, which is what "plan," in an architectural sense, really means.


Delivered before the Society of Arts, London, November 28, 1887. From the Journal of the Society.


The dark shaded portion in this and the next two diagrams show the "section" of the wall as seen if we cut it through and look at it endwise.


This is the feature called "abacus" (i.e., "tile") in Greek architecture, but I am here considering it apart from any special style or nomenclature.


"Bearing," in building language, is used in a double sense, for the distance between the points of support, and the extent to which the beam rests on the walls. Thus a beam which extends 20 feet between the points of support is a beam of 20 feet bearing. If the beam is 22 feet long, so that 1 foot rests on the walls at each end, it has "1 foot bearing on the wall."


None of the forms of column sketched here have any existence in reality. They are purposely kept apart from imitation of accepted forms to get rid of the idea that architecture consists in the acceptance of any particular form sanctioned by precedent.