Facadism by Jonathan Richards

By Jonathan Richards

Facadism - the protection of historical facades, the production of facsimiles in entrance of recent structures and the ornamental workouts of postmodernism - is accused of destroying architectural innovation, of divorcing the inner and external of constructions and of decreasing townscapes to theatre units. Its defenders describe facadism because the method city culture and development stroll hand in hand. Facadism provides a serious research of an idea primary to the way town is being remodelled. Assessing architectural and townscape philosophies and their aesthetics, the foundations of city conservation, the method of background making plans and the marketplace forces of city improvement, the ebook builds a whole photograph of the factors and results of facadism within the 20th Century.

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It is also a process concerned with contextualising new development with its surroundings. These concepts are not original but have been handed on by past generations of architects and town planners. MODERN So far in this chapter, facadism has been explored in the light of ideas linked to the architecture of pre-modern times. Now the focus moves to the ideologies embodied in Modernism and Functionalism, which have had such a dramatic influence on the built environment throughout the world. In the context of this book, it is important to examine facadism in relation to such ideologies, which sit in stark contrast to concepts such as facadism and represent a fundamentally different approach to dealing with the built environment.

At least they need to be spoken of in the same breath as facadism! For instance, what else, other than a form of facadism, is the complete internal gutting and redesign of freestanding buildings such as redundant churches or former warehouses? The Bush Warehouse in Bristol City Docks actually has three facades facing public places, but offers an excellent example. Here, the three outer walls and the party wall were kept and the roof and interior redesigned to create an interesting Arts complex (see Plate Section, xiv).

Considering the antipathy shown by many town planners towards facadism, there is a certain irony that in Bristol the home of the City Council Planning Department happens to be a modern office block, constructed behind the monumental facade of Brunel’s former Royal Western Hotel, which dates from between 1837 and 1839 (see Plate Section, vi). A particularly interesting scheme in Glasgow City Centre carried out in 1989, at the corner of Gordon Street and Union Street, featured the retention of the facades of a cast-iron fronted building of Venetian inspiration called Ca’D’Oro, designed by John Honeyman and built in 1872 (see Plate Section, viii and ix).

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