T. Harold Hughes, A.R.C.A.Lond.(Arch.)
Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects (December 7, 1912):65-82; (December 21, 1912):125-132.
Thomas Harold Hughes (1887-1949) won the R.I.B.A. essay medal in 1912 for this ambitious essay on town planning. He was then near the beginning of a distinguished career that included the design of a large number of major buildings, the chair of architecture at the Royal Technical College, and the directorship of studies of the Glasgow School of Architecture. He gained these distinctions despite his humble birth as son of a Staffordshire potter. After his grammar school education he served his apprenticeship to a firm of architects before gaining a scholarship at the Royal College of Art. There he won several prizes. Hughes served as a captain in the Artist's Rifles during the First World War and was one of the principal authors of the army's manual on map reading. Following the war he practiced with Sir John Burnet until joining the Royal Technical College where he taught for twenty years. Some of material used in this essay appeared in somewhat different form in a book he wrote with E.A.B. Lamborn, Towns and Town Planning, published in 1923. A short contemporary review of Hughes's essay appeared in The Town Planning Review (3 (January 1913):280-81) by Stanley Adshead. Adshead complimented Hughes for his Mastery of "the whole of the current literature on the subject "that showed "a wonderful grasp of fundamentals." He felt, however, that the author "would have been more illuminating and much more interesting had he thrown more sidelights on existing examples," for "to be shown the discovery of principles is, after all, a more interesting entertainment than the enunciation of them." In this transcription a few of the illustrations have been omitted,APPROACHING THE PROBLEM.
Town planning is an art with a far-reaching influence. The painting or statue placed in the art gallery or in the dwellings of the wealthy is seen by few; but the town planner, whose canvas is the hill and the plain, can by his creation of the city beautiful give pleasure day by day, and affect the lives of many not only for the present but for generations to come.
To whom must we look for the creation of the beautiful town? The mind accustomed to the design of buildings, to the grasp of an entire problem, to the harmonious relation of, many details fitly proportioned to their object, alive to the value of the axial line and vista, knowing how and where to concentrate interest, able to accentuate and subordinate parts, this mind the mind of the architect--is the one to design the town such as I would define it. How must the problem be approached? No great work of art can be achieved without some high ideal, to attain which the artist constantly must strive. Some great thought must be embodied in every design, every detail must be attuned to some great ruling principle, and in a large comprehensive scheme the designer must seize upon every opportunity of enforcing the dominant idea.
The town must be conceived as a whole, and must be the work of one whose high ideals and imagination can rise above the host of details which beset the designer of such a vast and complex problem. The planner of towns must be a dreamer steeped in ideals and freeing at the outset his mind from all petty details. He must create around him by his thoughts a favourable environment, and so conceive the broad lines of his scheme. By a wise study of the past, recognising its limitations and its ideals, he can stimulate his imagination and gain an insight into the qualities required to create the city beautiful. Knowledge of the ruling principles, and aided by these, an attempt to re-create in his mind, from their ruins, the cities of long ago, will be of the utmost value; and may he not, in this respect, glean something from painters who could depict the glories of the past in such scenes as the Landing of Cleopatra, or Dido and Carthage?
II. LESSONS OF THE PAST.
Was it well-considered planning and the grouping of buildings and accessories into one great architectural scheme, or beautiful buildings superbly placed, which contributed to the effect of a Greek city? I think the latter. Selinonte, influenced by the work of Hippodamus, in whom we see the highest attainments in Greek planning, owes its beauty to its elevated position above the water and to the sense of unity in the design of its buildings-- as a town plan it is a failure. From the great period of the fifth century B.C. to the time of Alexander there was an increasing desire for clear reasoned thought and an attempt to render some fine conception in the city plan in place of chance haphazard growth; but that perfect unity and subordination of all details to one great idea so beautifully shown in their individual buildings was never attained. Though attempts are made to obtain the best effects within the limits imposed, the necessity of fortifications, and the insistence on the preservation of sacred spots, precluded the adoption of any unified architectural scheme. At no other period can a more complete understanding of the site and its resources be seen. Art and Nature are happily wedded, as shown in the magnificent disposition of their buildings on some prominent site or in the theatre cut out of the slopes of the hill; and at Pergamos, Athens, and elsewhere, the value of broad level lines on a hilly and diversified site is apparent.
The buildings on the Acropolis, Athens, though not planned in direct relation one to the other, were so placed on the rock as to give the appearance of one great ensemble as seen from the city below, the outward and visible sign of that which dominated their lives: The Propylaea, traced from the early Cretan palace to Mnesicles' superb edifice at Athens, shows a desire to obtain a dignified first impression and a portal worthy of the precincts to which it gives access. Public gymnasia and stadia were brought more into architectural relation with the city--a contrast to our method of dealing with recreation grounds, though now, as then, physical exercise plays an important part in life. The Agora, placed in relation to the two main cross streets of the town, shows an appreciation of the importance of the vista, and the grouping of their public buildings round it shows the value attached to the formation of some climax in their design, an effect, however, more magnificently obtained by the placing of the great dominating temples on an eminence, giving to the whole composition a sense of unity extending to the smallest houses, however distant and irregularly scattered about. Though symmetry was not always striven for, a general sense of balance is felt and an interesting sky-line maintained.
In the study of Roman Civic Art it is the great scale and big way of approaching problems which strike one most forcibly. Possessed of more power and fewer restrictions than the Greeks, they did not hesitate to cut away the side of a hill or to fill in a valley to suit their magnificent plans. Regular and symmetrical schemes were adopted, the chess-board system being more or less customary--the two main streets of the town set at right angles to one another regulating the lay-out of the remainder of the city plan; but effective planning is limited more or less to the public buildings and markets, the residential parts being unresolved.
The value, then, of Roman study to us must centre chiefly on the Fora and their surroundings. Placed usually at the intersection of the two chief streets, they occupy central positions, but, hidden within the angles formed by the two ways, they partake more of the nature of enclosed spaces and shed none of their glory on the adjacent streets. The surroundings of the Fora (now no longer market places), with their colonnades and porticoes, all contribute to the total effect of magnificence and speak eloquently of the civic pomp and splendour of Roman public life, something of which might with advantage be infused into our own.
The importance attached to unity and regularity of planning and to the vista is shown in the grouping of the Fora in Rome, which are so placed that they are not only complete in themselves but are in architectural relation to those already built; moreover, in the great Fora of the Eternal City the important principle that public buildings must be well placed, if they are to have their full architectural value, is exemplified. Great care is taken to mask all irregularities--in the colonnaded streets of Palmyra, set axially with the temples at each end, any deviation from the straight line is overcome by a skilful adjustment of triumphal arches.
Delightful emphasis was given to the junction of cross roads, and an added importance to the axial lines by the placing of large pylons or four-way arches at the points of intersection. The Triumphal Arch to the Forum of Trajan, the Hexagonal Hall to the Temples of Baalbec, or the steps and mighty crescent forming the entrance to the Palace of Augustus on the Palatine Hill, all show the same desire to create a magnificent first impression.
In the placing of civic ornament much may be learnt from the Romans. Their use of statuary placed on pedestals in the Fora in relation to the whole design, or on corbels attached to the columns, the lines of the drapery thus contrasting with the formal architecture, is far nobler than our haphazard methods of dealing with such objects at the present time.
The monumental character of Roman work is the result of a close adhesion to three great principles: (1) Symmetry; (2) the maintenance of the axial line, and (3) the establishment of some central feature and subordination of accessory parts. These principles, so well shown in their great Thermae with their beautifully grouped halls, directly or indirectly must assert themselves in any successful city scheme.
In the hemicycle with its great possibilities, the Romans added the curve to the straight line of the Greeks to be fully developed in the Renaissance.
In all great periods of art a desire for symmetry and regularity is observable, at one time more pronounced than at another. In the Middle Ages, plans of towns, when laid out de novo, were regular and symmetrical whenever the nature of the site would permit. the majority of examples, however, have developed the irregular forms they take owing to determining lines of fortifications and a gradual unregulated growth; under these conditions then they cannot have the value for study for a modern city, which should not be laid out to afford material for the water-colour artist! It is possible to admire and love the marvellous effects of these old towns without wishing to reproduce them in the twentieth century. They are the products of a time when to do the right thing came naturally, and each man, with a great tradition behind him, unconsciously built so that his work took its place beautifully as a unit in the whole, and effects were obtained for which it would be absurd, under modern conditions, to strive.
Lessons, however, may be learned from mediaeval work. The walls of fortification enclosing the old towns, and clearly defining them from the country around, show the value a definite boundary would be to our modern cities, instead of the straggling outskirts so often a disfigurement. The clustering of the town around some great towering church or cathedral, a dominating mass, like the Acropolis at Athens, gives a sense of unity to the whole; whilst countless examples show that perfect geometrical regularity on paper is not always necessary, for little deviations from the square are with difficulty measured by the eye. From the market place we can learn the value of the quiet, restful effects obtained by a judicious arrangement of street entrances, giving an unbroken frame of buildings, and with it that sense of seclusion so suitable for a square in a busy commercial centre (an effect which may be obtained without meandering streets but in a rectilineal system with streets entering "en bras de turbine"). Such an arcaded market place as that of Montpazier would make, in principle, an excellent model for our shopping centres; and we can learn something too for our residential quarters, where, removed from the centre of the city, the need of formality being less, a judicious variation in the building lines of the street gives a pleasing and welcome variety.
With the revival of Classic architecture in the fifteenth century in Italy, and with it earnest study of the great buildings of the Romans, appeared the revival of the "grand manner" in planning, and that fine sense of breadth and scale in architecture so closely associated with the name of ancient Rome. The regularity and symmetry of the buildings soon spread to gardens, streets, and "places" which were laid out at that time and in conjunction with them. The setting of buildings and arrangement of their sites and the practice of formal gardening developed a desire for larger fields to conquer, and plans of cities and towns were schemed showing a desire to consider the problem in the light of a complete harmonious whole. A masterly grasp of the possibilities, a largeness of conception, and a power and a courage to handle civic design on a scale such as never before had been attempted now becomes apparent.
The desire to shed the glory of important buildings upon their surroundings by placing them on some prominent point to which many roads converge, large open spaces or forecourts to buildings to enable their designs to be properly appreciated, magnificent vistas, a predominance of geometrical forms, and a linking up of many features into one connected design are all characteristics to be seen in the plan of any Renaissance town.
The Italian villas of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (largely the works of men who were painters before architects!) are excellent examples of the "grand manner" in architecture. A realisation of the possibilities of the site, of the value of dignified approaches, of noble terracing, of vistas, of formally laid out gardens in excellent relation to the buildings, these and many other qualities which defy analysis are to be seen in such designs as the Sacchetti, Madama, Aldobrandini, or the D'Este.
But in other countries besides Italy, countries to which the Renaissance spread, there also may be studied noble works. In France, perhaps more than anywhere else, can be seen the finest examples of the harmonious design of buildings and sites--of grounds treated as an essential part of the architecture. The sites usually flat, prolonged vistas large open spaces and beautiful broad effects of water, grass, and foliage, are points in which the French excelled. No other people have shown such a magnificent sense of breadth and space as may be seen in such creations as the gardens of Chantilly or Versailles. In the Renaissance, for the first time, we see the city planned as an artistic whole. A fine conception precedes its slower realisation, and every detail is subordinated to the one central idea. Would that we again could pick up the threads of a lost tradition!
III. INFLUENCE OF TO-DAY.
All good art must live--it must reflect the age we live in. Full recognition must be given to all the practical considerations which affect civic art, for town planning is not an art plus a science, but demands that all modern utilitarian requirements and scientific problems be accepted and expressed in beautiful forms. Our retrospective glance at the cities of the past shows the results of forces entirely different from those at work to-day, and the habits and customs of the people who inhabited them are clearly written in their plans. It follows, then, that we must consider every tendency of modern life, science, and invention which will directly or indirectly affect our design and reflect the twentieth century.
Determining factors will be found in the railway and transit systems in general. The speed of traffic almost as much as its bulk will regulate the width of roads, and faster transit facilities will be desirable in the future. Motor and other rapid modes of locomotion necessitate long, straight streets, the avoidance of awkward turns, and the provision of open points of intersection together with means of easy supervision and direction. Modern city life with its stress demands that office quarters be as free as possible from traffic; and, as shopping streets and centres must always entail blockage in the traffic, for such quarters as these duplicated streets may be the only solution.
Class distinction, "fashionable quarters," or socialistic tendencies will all leave their mark on plans. Economic problems, the cost of living, the desire of the workman to have easy or cheap access to his work, the tendency to avoid domestic problems and live in flats and hotels, and many other such present-day influences will have a marked effect on the city, and, properly grasped, will help in the production of a living plan suited to the needs of the population of to-day and to-morrow.
Scientific progress must leave its mark. The tendency to concentrate in the production of power at large central stations will affect the aspect of the city, and newer methods of transit both by land and air must be considered. May it not be something of a fetish that in the days of such undertakings as the Suez and Panama Canals we should let our designs be regulated by every little undulation of the site, perhaps to the detriment of a broad, straightforward scheme?
ATTAINMENT OF THE IDEAL.
THE GENERAL TOWN PLAN.
(a) The Individuality of the Town.
To portray the town's individuality and to express its character must be the first consideration and constant endeavour of the designer. He must consider the life of its people, the use of the city, be it collegiate, legislative, or commercial, the materials to be used, the vegetation that will thrive, and, greatest of all powers to give individuality, the configuration of the site, considerations which, by a clear acknowledgment and expression in his design, will give to the city its distinctive character and clearly reflect the life and history of its dwellers.
(b) The Site in General.
A glance at those cities which stand out pre-eminently as the most beautiful in the world will prove that, in each instance, the nature of the site has entirely governed the general layout, and will show how natural features have been turned to the greatest advantage; but whereas in the cities of the past military considerations have usually governed the selection of the site, we, more or less within limits, may select one for its aesthetic possibilities. Full knowledge of the site must precede the formation of any scheme for its covering--no greater mistake can be made than to approach the problem with some preconceived idea of a type of plan "formal" or "informal" which the designer wishes to produce. Originality, it should be remembered, will arise from a close adherence to the demands of the site.
The mountain, valley, plain, or river will all determine the form of plan, whilst every feature of the site, woods, ponds, or clumps of trees must be taken into consideration and turned to good effect. The lake will suggest a water frontage and the public buildings placed in conjunction with it. The river, perhaps, will have the strongest influence in the development of the city site, and the possibilities of great sweeping curves to its embankments, or the splendid position for public buildings, lining each side, should not be overlooked. The bridges should be carefully placed, since they will govern the setting out of the streets on each side, and care must be taken in the placing of the industrial quarters that they may not in time unduly spoil the riverside development. If the river runs at the foot of some precipitous hill, as does the Wear at Durham, a magnificent site is afforded for the building, ecclesiastical or civic, which is to dominate the whole city plan.
The hillside or summit will afford the most commanding position for the chief public buildings of the city. If the former, its dark covering of trees and foliage will demand a careful silhouette to the buildings grouped upon its slopes, and if these be of a public nature the effect must not be spoilt by allowing the town to develop behind them. If the hill or mountain side be steep many opportunities may occur for noble terracing and sheer cliffs of wall. The residential quarter will naturally require high ground, which should not, however, compete with the spot selected for the civic centre.
Not only will the nature of the site itself determine the general lines of the design, but also prominent features of the surrounding country. Views of distant mountains, hills, or water, or any beautiful prospect, should be linked up with the city. Avenues, open spaces, and the forecourts to important buildings must be schemed to obtain a view of the distant country, the formal city buildings forming a foil and setting to the landscape.
Every part of the site having been given the fullest consideration, and all its possibilities grasped, the planner, always thinking in three dimensions, may outline his scheme.
(c) The Sub-division of the Site.
Practical considerations such as prevailing winds, rainfall, geological formation, &c., accounted for, we may begin to dispose of the various quarters which will go to make up the city plan.
The city may be sub-divided into three areas: (1) The Civic and Commercial, conveniently considered together; (2) the Residential; and (3) the Industrial. Reasons of convenience and health may dictate that these areas must, within certain limits, be separately placed and grouped and determine the relative positions they should occupy. Our architectural standpoint demands more--it demands that, though separated (and each requiring a different treatment and some effect of centralisation in itself), they shall retain their positions as units in a complete whole, and be in relation to one another whether viewed from the mountain-top or public square. The following are ways by which this may be obtained: (1) The subordination of the minor parts and accentuation of the chief, giving a greater vigour and sense of completeness to the whole. (2) Main radial avenues between the heart of the city and its outskirts which should, at their termination both in the centre and in the area they serve, have some prominent and well-fixed focal point, to give a sense of connection to city and suburb. (3) Ring roads maintaining their width and character throughout. (4) Great formal sweeps of dwellings in the residential quarters, perhaps terraced high on some hill like the seats of a Greek theatre, and having the chords of their curves in definite relation to the centre, whilst, whenever possible, straight streets, however short, may be planned with their axes radiating from the important buildings in the heart of the town. (5) Scale obtained by the adoption of a similar unit for both town and outskirts. There is no reason for the level lines of classical cornices in the civic centre to give way entirely to spires and medieval gables in the environs.
Of great importance are the problems of the disconnection of the various areas, and the transition from one quarter and class of building to another. No definite rules can be laid down since each site will require a different solution. By treating the main avenues connecting the areas for part of their length as park- ways, not only would the park system be continued from the open outskirts to the more closely built upon commercial part, but the transition from one class of building to another would become less noticeable. More effective, perhaps, would be ring avenues of ample width connecting up a series of open spaces.
Where the residential area is in close contact with the commercial, the office buildings should not give way immediately to the detached villa standing in its own grounds. Flats or tenements would form a more agreeable transition from the city block to the suburban dwellings--yet, in any attempt to attain pleasing transition from one area to another, great care must be taken not to give too disconnected an appearance to the whole.
Assuming the positions to the various areas already allocated, each individual one may be considered. Something of the principles governing the lay-out of the whole town will apply to each area, each must have some centre of greater or less importance, whilst various other points of emphasis should be provided round which the plan may form. Proportion of solid and void, of masses of buildings and masses of foliage carefully considered, will greatly assist in the ultimate effect of each quarter and of the whole.
1. The Civic and Commercial Area.--Something of a climax is required in the whole city design, and this "climax", if the city be a political one, will be formed by the Government buildings; if collegiate, perhaps by the university; usually it will be formed by the civic centre of the city itself. The preliminary consideration of the site will have shown the most suitable position for this centre; an elevated spot, the mountain side, or water frontage, or a combination of these, being selected as the most important and prominent place; round it the civic and commercial area will be formed.
Dignity should be the key-note in the lay-out of this quarter, and a greater degree of formality obtain here than in any other part. A more spacious distribution of the various parts, of roads, buildings, and open places, and a greater breadth of treatment, not only in the design of the individual buildings, but in the proportions of streets and forecourts, should pervade; and, in general, architectural magnificence will demand a more generous-treatment than mere utility requires. From this quarter the greater number of avenues will radiate; its general shape and lay-out, then, should be so devised that its more prominent buildings may be seen from as many points as possible and cast their radiance over the greatest area practicable. It will be the organic centre of the whole, and should be so disposed as to leave no doubt in the mind of the visitor, arriving by rail, road, or water, as to which is the heart of the city. If circumstances dictate that the civic quarter be placed at one end, then, in its relation to the other quarters, it should occupy some such position as does the Schloss and surrounding buildings to Karlsruhe
Ample space should be reserved for the civic buildings, which, with their surroundings, should embody the pride of the citizens, for such centres as those of education, amusement, and shopping, and for the general commercial and office quarters; and if the various important buildings of the different centres be linked together by broad avenues, the value of each and of the total effect will be greatly enhanced.
2. The Residential Quarter.--A more homely, restful character will be proper to this quarter, and a much greater use of foliage, together with the smaller and more disconnected type of building, will prevent this part, on however much higher ground, competing with the civic centre. In this, as in other areas, a centre point to the design is desirable. Round this subsidiary centre, which should be spaciously laid out in conjunction with the great avenues coming from the city, churches, branch libraries, shops, &c., will be built, and from it avenues should radiate to the various parts of the area. Other points of interest in the plan may be formed at the junction of main roads, where groups of shops, a church, or a school may be placed to give further emphasis to the plan, whilst recreation grounds will, in the poorer quarters, similarly provide points of interest. The main avenues should be laid out in a simple and direct manner; they may be of great width and planned with centre plots of grass and trees, forming promenades. Variety may be obtained by broad terracing, by plateaux, and by great formal curves, having, when possible, relation to the centre of the area or the chief civic centre itself.
Great care will be required in plotting the streets when the site is hilly. A street carried straight up an incline will, if the houses be built fronting it, result in broken, restless masses. It would be better in such cases to make the streets run on level lines on the hill-side, giving the long, unbroken roof- lines so suitable to such a quarter. If the road to ascend the hill winds to right and to left, delightful effects may be obtained if direct access by foot be given by long, easy flights of steps, always providing some spot of interest at the summit.
Endless rows of small houses in the poorer quarters must be avoided. Houses should show some method of concentration and be grouped together in the streets or round open squares or spaces, as any appearance of dotting the buildings separately about the site, each with its little garden, would be ruinous to the effect as a whole.
Street junctions offer interesting problems in design; the houses must be so spaced and designed as to form interesting vistas to the incoming streets and to prevent any unpleasant effects from unconsidered "side elevations."
3. The Industrial Quarter.--The treatment of this quarter will be the most difficult, for its future development cannot be easily foreseen. It will, in its general disposition, be governed by railway lines and sidings, rivers or canals. It follows, then, that in the careful placing of railways and waterways in the first place much can be done to ensure some ordered growth. This area, just as any other, should express its character in its streets, its places, and its buildings. Civic ornament will find no place here. Large and important buildings, such as customs houses, goods stations, or power houses might provide point of emphasis, and here, as elsewhere, a good street system will count for much. Architectural magnificence must, in the avenues, give way to the requirements of heavy traffic, and the buildings lining them should be of strong and simple character. Open spaces, quiet and restful in appearance will be needed here more than anywhere else, and such should be placed away from the busiest thoroughfares. Offices and warehouses should be grouped in an orderly manner, and when large yards are required for loading and unloading goods, these might face the road with the buildings grouped round the sides, the breaks thus formed giving variety to the lines of the streets.
The Approach by Water.--In our country this may be from the sea or river. Water in relation to a town has great possibilities, and in the approach from the sea, the harbour should be brought into direct relation to the heart of the town presenting the most imposing buildings, and the docks and warehouses treated in a more dignified and orderly fashion than usually obtains. Many cities may possess a river approach. Here again, if possible, a vista should be opened out from the docks to the civic centre, and the river-side given as attractive an appearance as possible. If the sides of the river are embanked the buildings should not be placed too closely to the river-side, but set some way back to give full value to the wide sweeps of river-side road, though, at intervals, some building, a customs house or dock office, may with great effect rise sheer from the water's edge.
The Approach by Rail.--The station, a noble building, the entrance portal to the modern city, should be placed in proximity to the best quarter, and from it should radiate Avenues to the various centres, terminating in vistas of some important buildings Where possible, the chief avenue should lead directly, on the axis of the station, to the town's civic centre, framed in by a monumental arch or imposing pylons. In front of the station there should be a large open space, and the building itself must be somewhat recessed from the point of the traffic's greatest density. This open space should be laid out in a generous fashion, and planted with grass and foliage. Something of the city's character might here be expressed, by the chief industries of the place forming the subject for sculptural ornament, and, recessed from the whirl of the traffic, a statue of some prominent citizen who may have brought fame to the town might well be placed. Ample provision for cab ranks and car shelters must be made so that they detract as little as possible from the general effect. The passage of the railway lines through the city must be devised to present as pleasant a picture as possible to the traveller, and, when they must necessarily run through districts fully built upon, it would be wise to plant the sides with trees, and in every case some reasonable space should be left between the rails and buildings.
The Approach by Road.--All main avenues will be designed to open out a vista of some important building which will add interest to the approach by road. Main roads connecting the city with the neighbouring towns should be wide and imposing, great piers or pylons should be built on the boundary line, which could serve the purpose of distance- indicating posts, and on the outside of these a less formal treatment of trees, hedges, and footpaths will all serve to mark more distinctly the transition from country to town.
The whole city should be designed to present a beautiful mass and outline as seen from afar, and some attempt should be made to define its boundaries, such definition not necessarily being incompatible with the provision for expansion. Wide ring avenues, belts of park land or fields might help to attain this, whilst streets laid out in the outskirts should be so designed and the buildings so placed as to give a closed-in appearance to their outer ends--gable ends curbstones, and macadam too often rub shoulders with grass and trees. Beyond the boundaries, too, straggling houses must be banned; inconvenient as they are to schemes of drainage and lighting, they are still more objectionable as eyesores.
(e) The Main Avenues.
From the architectural standpoint these are of twofold value: (1) As determining the development of the scheme, and (2) for their intrinsic beauty.
1. The main traffic lines will always be the chief factors in regulating the growth and expansion of the city, forming as they do the backbone or structure of the city plan. They must then, within such latitude as practical considerations and the configuration of the site allow, be laid out to give a broad, simple, and dignified scheme, helping to give a sense of connectedness and unity to the various parts and areas, and to accentuate the physical centre of the plan. These main avenues will naturally by their connection with the outlying main roads help to link up country and town, an object, however, more effectively obtained by laying out streets so that they have as vistas some distant mountain, hill, or other beautiful prospect, linking up Nature and Art--whilst the formal lines of architecture will give a delightful setting to the view.
2. The avenues should be broad, not alone for traffic facilities, but as befitting the great scale on which an important town should be built, and an air of stateliness may properly be given to them. Buildings forming vistas to these great avenues must be of such size as to provide satisfactory terminations and not be dwarfed by them. Care must be taken that the road levels be continuous, either flat or inclined, dips and curves being avoided as destroying the effects of the avenue itself and in many cases obscuring the terminal vista.
Formal planting of trees and shrubs will make these avenues pleasant promenades as well as traffic routes, and fountains and monuments placed to form focal points to by-streets will give additional points of interest, helping to break up too lengthy a vista. Trees planted in the avenues must have definite proportion in height and width to the street and buildings, and when strips of turf are planted in conjunction with them in the centre or side the plots should be simple and unostentatious in design. By the use of trees, shrubs, and grass, by fountains and monuments, and with good proportion between the height of buildings and width of roadway and well-schemed vistas, interest in the avenue itself should be maintained.
Ring avenues with their constant change of direction and vista afford a delightful contrast to the straight street. At their intersection with the main avenues large open spaces are necessary; here triumphal arches and great pylons may be placed, and suitable sites contrived for important public buildings.
(f) Allocation of the Various Centres.
The position of the various areas--residential, commercial, and industrial--settled, and the approaches and traffic lines laid down, the next step will be to provide focal points and spots of emphasis giving the necessary architectural expression to the plan. These points will be supplied by the various centres which practical as well as aesthetic considerations render desirable, civic centres, centres of education and recreation, of commerce and shopping. Such centres should be treated in a generous manner, indicative of the wealth and importance of the town, being formed as they will by its chief buildings, whilst in their treatment something of their function and relative importance in the life of the inhabitants should be expressed.
Centres may be formed in connection with park areas, in connection with water or in the heart of the city, when they may be grouped in some great broad street or round some place or group of open squares; whatever the site they should be so treated as to add as much dignity as possible to the neighbouring streets and "places." The total effect may be increased, and greater importance given to each individual centre, by a judicious linking up, one to the other, with spacious avenues, and in their relative positions in the whole plan a balance of effect is necessary.
1. The Civic Centre.--The point for this centre, which must be the chief and predominate over the whole city, was selected on the first consideration of the site, since to a certain extent it governed the setting out of the main avenues and the general disposition of the quarters, and in laying out the civic and commercial area it was so placed as to be seen from as many points as possible that all might feel it to be the "hub" of the city and city life. This centre will include such buildings as the Town Hall, Law Courts, Public Offices, &c., and round it offices, both public and private (such as legal), will naturally congregate, and provision for them in relation to the chief buildings must be made from the first, assisting as they will in the architectural treatment of the whole centre. The arrangement of the streets and open places in connection with it should be spacious, and they should be so placed and proportioned as to express something of the "pomp and splendour" of the town. This portion of the city will afford the best positions for public statuary.
2. Educational Centre.--This centre, including such buildings as museums, art galleries, libraries, and colleges, will, especially if it include a university, form one of the largest. If such be the case, a compromise must be effected here; museums and libraries must be near to the heart of the city, to the people, whilst a university will require a more secluded spot, and ample space for playing fields--even then it may be brought architecturally into touch with the remainder by opening out a vista of it from the square round which the museums, libraries, technical colleges, &c., are grouped. If it be brought actually into conjunction with the other buildings, the large open "campus" such as will then be necessitated will add greatly to the breadth and dignity of the whole and form a noble setting. The necessary residences might be linked together and form interesting features in the scheme. A quiet and dignified effect should be striven for, and an artistic lay-out, well-designed buildings, and good sculpture, happily combined, will have an educational value in themselves.
3. Recreative Centre.--This centre, the centre especially of sports and pastimes, offers endless opportunities. Stadia, playing fields, swimming ponds, and playgrounds can be arranged to form a magnificent composition of architecture and formal gardening on a large scale. Physical exercise, occupying as it does so much of our modern life, might be provided for more on such lines as those of ancient Rome, the baths of Titus, with their surroundings, forming a better model than the present-day park playgrounds, playing fields, and scattered baths. This centre will probably form part of the park system, the most healthy spot being naturally chosen, and an effort should be made to form such an architectural whole of buildings, grounds, and surroundings, that, whilst the body is being exercised, the educational influences of an artistic environment may be felt.
4. Shopping Centre.--Shops will naturally be formed along the most frequented routes, but the establishment of a market in one spot will lead to the congregation of shops around, and this might form the chief centre. At such spots as this, and wherever any considerable number of shops will be formed together, an attempt to obtain orderly and artistic grouping should be made, and whilst a sense of quiet and enclosure is desirable the whole must have some architectural expression and value in the plan. Too wide a spacing of the streets and "places" will defeat the object of the centre, but great effects might be obtained by the frequent use of colonnades and covered ways, such as those of the Rue de Rivoli, and arcades linking street to street and place to place will in themselves afford excellent opportunities for architectural treatment.
5. Commercial Centres.--The stress of business and the bulk of the traffic will demand that here everything be spacious and reticent in design. Sculpture and ornament should be reserved for less distracting spots. This centre, for which Wren's city centre in his scheme for rebuilding London is an excellent model, will contain such a building as an exchange, round which other public or semi-public buildings, banks, and offices will be arranged. These must all be grouped in an orderly and architectural manner; a centre square, with the lofty office buildings surrounding it, offers great opportunities for a dignified treatment of an essentially twentieth-century problem.
6. Minor Centres.--These can be effectively devised for small towns and residential quarters, giving the architectural emphasis which may be there required. Small centres, such as of hospitals or theatres, massing together buildings devoted to the same purpose, will all help to give variety to the plan and break up any too large areas of regular streets and buildings.
The existing system of dotting about "natural parks" unrelated to one another is bad. The park system should at all times provide a sight of its glories; all parks must be so placed that they may help to adorn the city, and that their benefits may always be felt. The tendency therefore should be to provide a number of gardens and parks--not dotted about, but connected together into one big system by wide boulevards and strips of park-way linking up the open spaces and providing walks and drives about the town.
Land should be reserved for park-ways on the outskirts of the city, thus spreading the value of the system further afield. Such strips of park-way carried out on radial lines will give delightful effects by the contrast of building and cool green trees, and greatly enhance the appearance of the city by creating interesting "voids" in the city's mass of buildings, giving a more open and dignified appearance and affording a pleasant setting to any building or buildings which may be placed in conjunction with them. Under such conditions they should be so planned that their value may be felt over as large an area as possible.
City parks will, perhaps, be placed to separate the commercial areas from the residential, or the resident from the industrial. The nearer to the heart of the city the park is, the more formal must be its character, though the principle to be observed in the lay-out of a park will, of course, depend upon its use. It may be primarily for children, or perhaps a means of education, containing a vivarium, aquarium, botanical or zoological gardens. It may, again, be used as a recreation ground with tennis, football, and other fields, when it will form part of the recreation centre; or perhaps it may be used for music or a parade, as the Bois de la Cambre or Hyde Park are used, though for such purposes as drives a wide ring avenue or boulevard would be much more effective. Parks, in addition to those suggested within the town and of a different type, may be required in large manufacturing districts when the country is far away and inaccessible to the poorer classes. These parks, large in size, should naturally contain as many beautiful features as possible, running streams, hills and dales, and have in addition good views of the surrounding country. No attempt must be made to make unpromising sites look naturally romantic, and, when Nature is not especially beautiful, for man to try to "design" her is false and impossible of attainment.
In designing the parks a sense of spaciousness and scale should be observed throughout, the general plan being laid out on simple broad lines, with quiet masses of foliage and unbroken stretches of grass. On no account must any attempt be made to bring little scraps of country into the town, and the best types to select as models for our parks would be such examples as Kensington Gardens, Hampton Court Gardens, or the Tuileries. When there are no dominating architectural lines a sense of formality and an easily grasped geometrical lay-out become all the more necessary.
These parks will afford excellent situations for monuments and sculpture, to which foliage perhaps planted in great hemicycles, will form a delightful background.
Road frontages to parks are often desirable, spreading their influence over a larger area. The problem of the transition from the buildings and streets of the town to the park is an important one. A park laid out on simple formal lines will usually easily fall into place, but if some great avenue run directly up to the park gates a satisfactory termination to it must be provided, and it would be wise to continue the avenue, in no way cut up, for a short distance into the park, to terminate in some feature such as a monument, which may also form a focal point to which the park avenues may converge. White stone terraces and balustrades, &c., will all help to "carry through" the architecture of the city into the park.
Vistas of groves, woods and parks should be planned for the open places and groups of public buildings, whereby both will gain by the contrast of Nature and Art and more dignified view- points will be obtained for the buildings.
(h) Streets in General.
The various areas and centres of the town's activity located, the large avenues and boulevards laid down, and the position of parks and approaches determined, the development of the city plan will be completed by the lines of the various streets. The disposition of these will have an important ultimate effect on the plan and can do much to accentuate the ruling idea which has so far governed the design. The setting out should be simple and direct, and every line should have a purpose in, and definite relation to, the whole scheme.
Streets, where possible, should converge on to points of interest and show to best advantage the prominent buildings, an effect which streets radiating from some centre will give, providing a splendid series of vistas. Again, some streets in distant parts may be laid out in relation to the chief city centre itself, so giving greater unity to the plan. A "grid- iron" treatment of the whole city must be avoided, but efforts must be made in laying down the lines of the streets to form good building plots and to avoid sites difficult to deal with.
The gradient of the street will materially affect its appearance--a long street will appear less monotonous if on an incline than if perfectly level. Changes in section, longitudinally, of the roads must be carefully considered, they may cut off the view of the terminal vista and have a disagreeable effect; the levels of the roads also must be taken into account in the design of the buildings lining it to obtain a pleasant treatment of the sky-lines. The streets should always be of a width and character suitable to the district they serve. In the main traffic lines the amount of traffic will determine their size, but some definite proportion should be given to the minor streets, both as regards length to width, or width to the height of buildings. The former cannot be easily regulated, and for the latter no hard-and-fast rules can be laid down, but, generally speaking, it will be found that they should either be definitely wide--the width being not much less than twice the height of building--or, when necessary, definitely narrow, high buildings being less suited to broad streets than to those of restricted width. When no vista is provided it becomes all the more important that the street be well proportioned and of interest in itself.
Long straight streets may become monotonous, however imposing the vista; in such cases their too extended appearance may be broken by fountains or monuments, not so large as to spoil the value of the terminal vista, and placed to accentuate the intersection of another street, which intersection may also be widened out to increase the value of the break. The widening out of the minor streets at their junction with the main avenues will, by displacing a certain part of the perspective, create interesting breaks, an effect which may be also obtained by sets- back in the building lines, giving sites for more important buildings, and an opportunity for the introduction of foliage.
Whilst straight streets offer the most dignified approaches to architectural monuments, opportunities should be taken to plan great formal curves, and crescents and quadrants may be with advantage used. Such arcs of circles will give right-angled junctions with streets planned on a radial system, an effect which may be also obtained by bending the two ends of the street to an obtuse angle with the centre. This type of street and the curves will, well treated, afford excellent "closed street pictures," effects which will be all the more valuable as a contrast to the wide, open avenues. When two points have to be joined together, if the line connecting them forms awkward angles with the places around these points, the ends may be curved with good effect, and thus afford regular junctions.
The junctions of streets require careful management; merely canting the angles of the buildings does not give a sufficiently dignified treatment. It would be better that they should be widened out, to form circuses or other shapes, and thus give better sites for buildings and opportunities for their successful treatment. Streets intersecting at various angles should be avoided, since they form sites difficult to treat satisfactorily, and careful proportioning between the width of streets and the buildings between them is always necessary. An attempt should be made to provide a satisfactory vista to each incoming street.
Care must be taken to avoid spoiling any feeling of breadth and continuity by bringing too many cross streets into another street, and when brought in they should be reasonably spaced apart to leave good building blocks between.
Footpaths should be broad and carefully proportioned to the width of road. They need not be paved for their full width; when trees are planted strips of grass or of gravel may be laid down, and in the former the tram-lines could be made to run.
In the heart of the city important centres with their public buildings may be linked together by wide streets giving a continuous impression of spaciousness and increasing greatly the value of each individual centre. Such streets might be primarily "show" streets, and be of great width, with gardens and statuary in their centre and amply planted with trees.
In the residential areas difficulties will arise in laying down the lines of streets, for these districts will usually be on hilly ground giving new problems in street plotting. Here lines that may appear to be formal on paper will not necessarily be so in reality. Long lines of buildings should not attempt to "climb the hill" but should be made to run on one level, and the effect of the sky-line considered. Broad terracing would here be an effective solution.
In the width of streets in residential parts a greater latitude will be allowable. Streets which are not thoroughfares, but serve only groups of houses, need not be wider than will allow two vehicles to pass, though the distance apart of the houses will be much greater. Gardens to houses which face important roads must be treated by the town-planner in a continuous and broad and simple manner, making the strips of garden form part of the roadway in effect, the only sub-division being a stone curb, low wall or hedge.
(i) Open Spaces.
Open spaces are desiderata in every plan, and may vary in size from the vast round point or square in the heart of the town to the small enclosed place recessed from the busy street. There are two ideals in the designing of open spaces, each having its proper place. The object of one is to cast its radiance on the adjacent streets, while that of the other is to form a sense of enclosure, becoming in its nature something of an open-air room. A combination of both these ideals may at times be made, and it should be remembered that open spaces, linked together by broad avenues and well planted with trees, will form valuable and effective park systems. Open spaces which are complete in themselves and not connected up with strips of park-way can, both "open" and "enclosed," be of various shapes. Squares, oblongs, ovals, circles and ellipses, hexagons and octagons, may all be effectively used, many of these shapes giving excellent effects of light and shade on the buildings which surround them.
Good proportion and complete harmony between the open spaces and the buildings around them are essential. One of the objects of the open space being to show to advantage the buildings in relation to which it is planned, great care must be taken that it be not so large as to dwarf them, nor so small as to prevent them being properly seen. Though no definite rules can be laid down, it will be generally found that a long building will require a space longer than deep, whilst the narrow lofty building will require the reverse. Care should also be taken in the method of running streets into the "place" to preserve the regular lines of the buildings surrounding it, and important buildings should be so placed as to form interesting vistas to such streets. Uniformity in the skyline is desirable, and in places of circular or elliptical form attempts should be made to preserve the great sweeps of cornice and roof.
Large open spaces will be much used as traffic centres, and as such should not be placed in direct relation to any public buildings. They must be big enough to receive effectively the great avenues, and to preserve regularly the line of buildings round. The large round point will, when used as a "place" with traffic circulating round, and not crossing the open space, afford an excellent opportunity for some large central monument, which, with avenues entering obliquely, must be of such a form as to present a regular face to all points.
When open spaces have buildings occupying the sides only, some architectural frame to the angles, formed by trees or by columns, will be necessary to prevent any feeling of weakness at such points. Sometimes it may be necessary to group several open spaces round a building when owing to its location plenty of open ground is required, which must not, however, dwarf the building; then by some subdivision a proper setting to it on all sides may be obtained.
The value of the enclosed space should not be overlooked. The sense of enclosure may be obtained by a judicious arrangement of the incoming streets, by effectively closing the vistas of all openings out of it, by linking up the buildings with colonnades, trees, or arches, or the lines of the buildings themselves may be strong enough to carry the eye across an intervening street. Some methods of enclosing the space may be architecturally of great value, as, for instance, the use of hemicycles as at Nancy and the Roman Fora with their magnificent colonnades are excellent examples of the happy treatment of similar problems.
When the centre of the place is laid out as a garden, well- designed piers and railings, preferably of stone, should be used. Thin cast or wrought iron fencing is ineffective in scale.
In the well-laid-out town railway bridges within the city will be avoided, and the only bridges required will be those crossing some river or deep ravine, or, with streets at different levels, viaducts offering interesting problems in design. It should be borne in mind that the bridge must be satisfactory not only as seen from the top, when its proportion and vistas will be of great account, but as seen from beneath, when the proportion of its arches, its general design and connection with the embankment are the chief considerations. Naturally many lines of traffic will converge on to the approaches; these, then, may be made of great size, and possibly would be best in the form of large circuses, giving greater dignity to the bridge. The scale of the structure and its approaches must be very carefully considered in relation to the surrounding buildings--in all cases they will necessarily be so diverse that it will be advisable completely to disconnect them.
The ramps to bridges should make agreeable composition of line both with the bridge and embankment. The architectural forms which may be used to decorate the open place in front of the bridge should also have some definite connection with the embankment, welding by firm lines the river-side and open space together. Flights of steps, triumphal arches, colonnades, and trees may be used for the purpose, connecting the embankment with the bridge and giving greater importance to the approach.
Monumental bridges may be adorned with colonnades, whilst the piers will afford excellent opportunities for the introduction of sculptural decoration, and their approaches may be enhanced by triumphal arches, pylons, and great curved colonnades.
Long bridges with strongly marked architectural lines and broad formal surroundings should have no camber if it can be avoided.
When iron bridges are necessary the iron should be used in the simple straightforward manner expressive of construction in that material, and to bring the bridge into harmony with its surroundings stone abutments, pylons, and balustrades to the approach should be used, as so well exemplified in the Pont Alexandre III. at Paris.
(l) Grouping of Buildings.
The grouping of buildings is of the utmost importance in giving greater emphasis to the chief points in the plan, and, more effectively than can be done by a single building, however large, in making an impression upon the spectator (as it should be the designer's constant effort to do) of the bigness of scale of the city and the greatness of the civic life which the buildings express.
Public buildings must always be placed where they will be seen to best advantage and confer the greatest dignity upon the whole design. They may be grouped in a wide street, when their projections and general treatment should be modified to suit the points of view obtainable. They may be placed at the end of a long avenue, when care must be taken to proportion effectively to the latter the forecourts and open space in front, and the design itself must be composed to tell at a distance. They may be built on an eminence, when a crypto porticus, great embankment walls, terraces, carriage-ways, flights of steps and buildings placed at a lower level to throw back the central mass, will all be conducive to a great monumental effect. They may be placed in conjunction with an open space or spaces, and then must be so grouped as to be well seen from the various avenues which may be connected with them; or again, they may rise from the water's edge, when the treatment of water and architecture offers endless opportunities. A continuity of effect may be obtained by linking up the several groups of public buildings by wide avenues or strips of park-way.
The scale of the buildings must always be adjusted to the distance from which they will be usually seen, and should be suited to the size of the town which they adorn.
Buildings placed in architectural relation to one another may be all in line, some may be recessed or advanced from the general front or placed at right angles, or they may be grouped round a forecourt, or all these methods may be combined. When it is desired to preserve a vista of a building some distance away the grouping may take the form so effectively devised by Wren at Greenwich, a treatment which might also be adopted when an opportunity occurred in the streets of the town. When one building is placed behind another, it should be simple and severe in its lines as a foil to the more richly treated building in front.
In grouping, some principal units should be repeated through all the designs, thus obtaining unity of effect; and small subsidiary buildings must be so treated and placed that they may not be hindrances to the preservation of the general scale, a matter of some importance. A concentration of interest is desirable, and this, when produced by larger masses and deep shadows, will materially increase the value of the vista.
The buildings may be linked together by arcades, colonnades (not timidly used, but used as Bramante would have done at the Vatican!), trees, terrace walls, and steps, whilst police boxes, monuments, statuary, and flights of steps well placed will help to link up the buildings with their surroundings and to create a greater total impression. All lines of grass, steps, terrace walls, and trees or shrubs should be so laid down as to give good composition of line with the buildings and their details.
An endeavour should be made to raise the buildings, when on the flat, above the general level. When the approaching street rises it should be made of great width, and the centre part may be sunk to form a series of flat terraces, connected by steps, the broad lines of which will greatly help in the attainment of a monumental effect.
(m) Buildings in General.
Modern conditions of city life and methods of transit condemn the irregular streets and junctions; on all hands formality is required, and this formality must be carried through to the buildings, long level lines of cornice and string best suiting the straight street and formal curve.
The planner of the town, unhappily, will not supervise its execution. He must not calculate, therefore, in his disposition of the several parts, that one building by a greater projection or a greater height, or by the addition of a tower, porch, or gable required to form a pleasing termination to some vista, will be erected when the time comes for his plan to be completely carried out. Such is impossible. All points of emphasis therefore desired in the buildings must be located at the centre or angle of a facade, or any other point which would naturally receive attention at the hands of its future designer.
Some system of massing buildings together should be adopted, avoiding a multitude of little straggling units, especially in the residential quarters, where it would be better to group several houses together and throw the little bits of garden into one large open space. Similarly six or seven storied flats and hotels could be grouped together round some open space, well laid out, the sum of all the unbuilt-on areas belonging to each.
Scale should be maintained in the buildings of each quarter, and their heights might be regulated in different well-marked zones. An attempt also should be made to obtain a certain uniformity of colour and bulk in buildings on a given area. Absolute symmetry is not so essential as a balance of skyline, and it should be remembered how roof-lines affect the appearance of the city as seen from without. Long, level lines will generally be found to suit a hilly site, whilst vertical lines will be more effective on the plain.
The character of buildings should be expressed in their elevations, certain areas expressing their purpose in the design of the edifices--a solidity and plainness will characterise those of the industrial quarter; quiet, restful lines and a homely effect those of the residential; whilst a greater richness and wealth of ornament, together with an appearance of greater dignity, will be the note for the buildings of the civic centre.
Buildings should be designed to suit the positions from which they are likely to be most seen--breaks and projections being avoided when it is impossible for the spectator to get far enough back to appreciate them properly, and the effect of the sun on the buildings according to their position should be carefully considered.
In the long city thoroughfare a judicious break might be formed by a set-back in the building line which may extend to the ground and be filled with trees or to the first floor only, leaving a roof garden, a pleasant spot of colour in the street. Similarly in the residential area long rows of buildings exactly alike should be avoided, and houses occasionally set back or brought forward from the general building line or gathered together into groups of definite form will give a welcome variety.
An effort should be made (in spite of our lack of tradition) to give some architectural character to the city, a character such as the dome gives to Byzantium, column and pediment to a Greek city, or the spire and gable to a mediaeval town. Even under present conditions the establishment of a Minister of Fine Art might do much to preserve a more uniform and higher standard of design in the buildings of our towns.
II. THE TOWN'S ORNAMENTATION.
(a) Trees, Shrubs, and Gardens.
Of all methods of adorning our towns the use of greenery is naturally one of the most attractive, and every town plan must provide amply for trees, shrubs and gardens. These must not be thoughtlessly dotted about, but subordinated to the architecture and used to assist in the general city design. No attempt must be made to make the work of man imitate that of nature, and trees and gardens used in our cities must partake of some of the city's order and formality. The introduction of trees, shrubs, and grass may be considered under the following heads:--(1) Trees in Avenues and Open Places; (2) Shrubs, Flowers, and Gardens; (3) Plots of Grass; (4) Treillage.
1. Trees in Avenues and Open Places.--Trees, as spots of colour contrasting with the buildings of the city, add much to its beauty. They must not be scattered about, but will be used to best advantage when planted in some open space or forecourt or in the long lines of the street. A building of strong classic lines may gain in appearance by the contrast of a free and informal treatment of greenery in front, and so with squares which are surrounded by buildings simple in outline, as may be seen in many London examples; but care must then be exercised in the disposition of the larger trees that they do not by their bulk dwarf the buildings and prevent the square being seen as one complete and architectural scheme. In avenues less than seventy feet wide trees should not be planted in the centre of the roadway, but only at the sides and openly spaced. In wider avenues the trees may be planted in the centre in one or two lines, and may be paired or used in rows of four giving delightful shaded walks beneath. They must always be proportioned in their height and bulk to the buildings on either side. Variety can be obtained by using different kinds in the various squares, but care must then be taken to avoid anything in the nature of specimen planting. Trees may often be planted to frame-in some distant view; and long avenues of trees with some interesting terminal vista, such as in the Luxembourg Gardens, should find a place in every city plan. Trees may be effectively used to link building to building and complete some great architectural scheme.
2. Shrubs, Flowers, and Gardens in Open Places.-- Shrubs, since smaller in size, may be planted in greater freedom. In open spaces they may be used with advantage to accentuate the angles of the gardens there laid out, or, again, clipped, used as a border and in connection with statuary to which they form an excellent background. Shrubs in boxes should be freely used in conjunction with buildings and monuments, and flanking the steps of the former they will give an added dignity. If they are to be disposed regularly as a border to open spaces, and to accentuate angles or cross paths, excellent models will be found in the Tuileries and Luxembourg Gardens. When put on parts which are paved and too small to permit of earth beds, they are of great value in "carrying through the green." Large shrubs in boxes, lining an avenue to a building, will, by the contrast of their mass and shape, give something of the effect of an avenue of obelisks before an Egyptian temple.
Parterres may be laid out in the open spaces, where masses of one kind of flower only should generally be used and not divided patches of different colours; for the shape of their beds, simple and interesting geometrical figures will always be best. In their general lines they must contribute to the total effect of the surroundings, and a fussy and restless appearance be avoided.
3. Plots of Grass.--Plots of grass will naturally be chiefly placed in the open squares and forecourts of public buildings, long wide stretches of grass unbroken by shrubs or flowers giving a splendid sense of breadth and repose. Intersecting paths should form good shapes to the plots, and an edging of flowers or shrubs will help more clearly to demarcate their shapes. Proportion between the paths and grass must carefully be observed, the bulk of grass (unless merely surrounding a statue) must predominate: the Schloss Garten, Vienna, is an example of the ill effects resulting from a neglect of this rule. Grass will be most effective in avenues when it is flanked on each side by shrubs or trees, and will help to take away from the hard dusty look of too broad an expanse of paving and roadway.
4. Treillage.--As a general rule the light appearance of treillage will exclude it from any position near to the large public buildings, and it will be best reserved for parks and open spaces, where it may be used with great advantage in connection with such utilitarian structures as conveniences, shelters, &c. As a background to a garden, in its general lines treillage should take some architectural form, and with it many interesting little alcoves and recesses may be formed.
In addition to the river, lake, or stream, which the site may possess, the possibilities of sheets of artificial water or of playing-fountains should not be overlooked. These may be introduced into all parts of the city, the calm and repose suggested by water being intensified when contrasted with the roar of traffic.
Small streams or rivers passing through the city site, and of themselves too small to be in scale with their surroundings, might well be converted into water canals broad and formal in treatment, their banks affording excellent opportunities for the laying out of strips of pleasure gardens. When such streams or brooks are tributaries of rivers and their banks likely to be used for manufacturing purposes, Wren's scheme for the Fleet Ditch should be borne in mind
Water as used to decorate cities may be considered under four heads:--(1) Large Sheets and Canals, (2) Ponds of Medium Size, (3) Small Ponds, and (4) Fountains.
1. Large Sheets and Canals.--Big sheets of water are well adapted to the plain, and when large canals or lakes are planned they should definitely become the dominating element in the scheme, any grass plots in size and number being subordinate. With the great formal shapes such as these sheets of water would take, it would be best to avoid a too formal cutting of the surrounding trees; the Chateau de Chantilly and Versailles with their broad masses of foliage are good examples of the most effective treatment. Vast expanses of water such as these, with their feeling of great breadth, are eminently suitable for the forecourts to palaces or large public buildings. As sculpture in the water would be out of scale and detract from their broad effect, small jets of water only should break the line; and any sculpture should be placed at the ends, where, with architectural details, it may become an integral part of the scheme. The edges of the lakes should be kept low and parapets be avoided; a wide stone curb and an edging of grass will appear more effective and less disturbing to the general sense of breadth.
2. Ponds of Medium Size.--As with plots of flowers or grass, the first essential is that ponds shall be of interesting shapes, and so disposed as to harmonise with their surroundings. In a scheme in which both grass plots and water ponds are used, the water ponds will naturally be placed where any special point of emphasis is required, as in the gardens of the Tuileries or the Luxembourg. Variety can be obtained by sinking the ponds below the general level. Much scope will then be afforded in the treatment of the sides with architectural details and formal planting, and, here as elsewhere, terminal figures might be placed in such positions as to give interesting reflections from prominent view-points. Delightful effects may be obtained by planning long narrow strips of water, the sides closed in by tall trees and the ends terminating in a building or piece of sculpture.
When sheets of water are planned in relation to buildings they should be so placed, both as regards levels and position, as to obtain from suitable points some interesting reflection. The great possibilities of water in conjunction with architecture should not be overlooked: water emerging from the deep shadowy recesses of the sub-structure of a building or terrace, or the walls rising sheer out of some lake or stream, such as Du Cerceau pictured in his ideal Chateaux, give effects worth striving to obtain.
3. Small Ponds.--Small ponds of water are of value in giving emphasis to certain points in a park or open place, or at the intersection of avenues having in their centres strips of grass. Such water ponds, when occupying important positions, may often be most effectively combined with architectural features, such as bridges, balustrades, and fountains, as in the Villa Lanti, Bagnaia. The small ponds will also afford excellent opportunities for the exercise of the sculptor's art and for the combination of architectural details with water. Interesting geometrical shapes will be the most effective, and proportion between the surface of grass and of water must always be carefully considered; one or the other must predominate.
4. Fountains.--Fountains should not be indiscriminately placed about the town, but rather reserved to accentuate spots of interest, and should be placed either in connection with some building to which their suggestion of life and movement will form a striking contrast, or in some relation to a formal lay-out in the avenue, open space, or park. A small and interestingly shaped basin fed from a fountain in some dark recess round which rise the approaching steps to the entrance of a building, as may be seen in such examples as the Villa Sacchetti or the Capitol, Rome, would greatly increase the importance of the entrance when the principal floor is much above the level of the ground.
In the bringing of the water service to a town, particularly if it be closely surrounded by hills, a water chateau could be most effective, even if on such a small scale as may be seen at Bourges.
(c) Utilitarian Accessories.
Such features as car shelters and cab ranks have, in this country at least, proved themselves objectionable, not only on account of their bad designs, but chiefly because of their lack of proper positions. Structures of this nature should never be placed at the sides of streets; from the very first in a well- ordered design they should have a proper place assigned to them where they will not detract from, but rather add to, the effect of the avenue and open place. Given a proper position, they might be built of a more permanent material; wooden erections can hardly be in keeping with the dignity of the surroundings.
Lamp standards might more frequently be of stone when in conjunction with buildings. If of metal, both wrought and cast- iron, properly treated, will give satisfactory results; better designs might also be attempted for the standards of the electric-car systems--designs more expressive of the material of which they are made. Lamp standards should be placed to serve some definite purpose in the street or square or on the buildings they illuminate, when, by day and night, they might enhance the effect of the architecture or the lines of the open place; the brilliant effect obtained by a judicious arrangement of lights, following the lines of the plan, may be seen in the Place de la Concorde.
Street name-plates should be uniform in size, of good lettering, and placed at uniform levels. They would be better on lamp standards than on buildings, the varied features of which will naturally prevent uniformity of height always being obtained. These and many other utilitarian objects necessary to the city, if provided for in the first place, even when not objects of beauty, will at least not assert themselves to the detriment of the general effect.
(d) Civic Ornaments.
Civic ornament must be in scale and harmony with its surroundings. Having a definite part in the conception of the whole scheme, it should be used, like ornament on a building, to concentrate upon points of interest, and as in architecture the structural parts are left severely plain, so also civic ornament would be better reserved for less distracting spots than the busier thoroughfares and traffic places.
Civic ornament may be divided into four classes:--(1) Triumphal Arches; (2) Monuments; (3) Statuary; (4) Architectural Details.
1. Triumphal Arches.--These should be sparingly used and only in connection with some great wide avenue or bridge; in the first case, either to mark in an imposing manner the beginning of some such avenue, or used at its termination in some open space. Arches may be used in connection with bridges either in the centre or at the ends. They may, especially when used with a small bridge, be of great size, completely dominating the whole and forming a magnificent entrance to a city, or, with larger bridges, they may be smaller in relation and linked by colonnades and other details to the bridge and open space in front. Triumphal arches should be unattached to any building which, of its nature, must be different in scale, and skill is required when using them in juxtaposition to prevent the scale of the latter being destroyed. The arches themselves must be so designed and of such dimensions as to prevent their looking insignificant in comparison with neighbouring buildings or forming an ineffective terminal to a vista. They must be placed with discretion; the Marble Arch can hardly be regarded as an example happy in its position, serving as it does no definite purpose; and they should never be placed to form, seen obliquely, a terminal vista to any important avenue or street.
2. Monuments.--Every city will have in the course of time some citizen or incident the people may wish to honour or perpetuate the memory of by some large monument. Such may be largely architectural with sculpture of secondary importance, such as Wren's monument to the Fire or the monuments to the cities of France in the Place de la Concorde; then, as with all other civic details, situation is of primary importance. They may be set in the centre of some large open place, such as Napoleon's column in the Place Vendome; and when in direct relation to a building or group of buildings they must accord in bulk, shape, and detail with their architectural surroundings. They may be placed to form terminal vistas to the avenues or within the parks, in both of which cases the immediate surroundings should be formal and architectural in treatment, a link between the monument and the trees and gardens around. The importance of the monument may be increased by the addition of colonnades, large flights of steps, water basins or statuary, when it may become the raison d'etre of a surrounding open square.
3. Statuary.--The use of sculptural detail should not be to mark the absence of any architectural idea but rather to accentuate one, and if sculpture be used with buildings, as it should, then to have its full value in any scheme it must be thought out from the very first in relation to the architecture it is to adorn. Statuary may be used most effectively in conjunction with buildings in such positions as flanking flights of steps, when its light and more fanciful touches will contrast well with the more formal building. Detached groups of sculpture completing the scheme of the building itself will have the value of linking the architecture with the open spaces and streets in front. The details of isolated groups of sculpture should always be designed to blend with the architectural character of the neighbourhood, and when placed in conjunction with some building, the details should be considered with those of the building itself. "Realistic" statuary would be best reserved for parks and gardens away from the buildings, while monuments with much movement and grouping of figures may be "steadied" by an architectural canopy. The beauty of statuary in combination with foliage must not be forgotten, but figures should not alternate with vases--such a plan only results in the scale of each being destroyed. The subject of the sculptural decoration of buildings night well be the history and industries of the town, and so help to portray its individuality.
4. Architectural Details.--These include such objects as seats, steps, vases, and other civic furnishings, all of which must take their place as units in the whole scheme, not asserting, themselves, but helping to attain the general effect. Decorative paintings, iron, bronze, marble, and many other materials and crafts might be used to adorn the city and give colour to a usually too sombre appearance. Finally, every little detail requires careful consideration, for interest in the town's design must be maintained to the least accessory. A baluster ugly in contour may mar the effect of a whole terrace. As Sir William Chambers said, speaking of mouldings, the whole can be spoilt by bad details, just as a fine musical composition may by murdered by a group of village fiddlers.
In the realisation of a fine conception, by a steadfast adherence to a great ideal and rejection of all that is unessential the city should have, as Wren said of buildings, at least "the attribute of eternal."
Selected, scanned, edited, provided with headnotes, and formatted as a web document by John W. Reps, Professor Emeritus, Department of City and Regional Planning, West Sibley Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA. Tel: (607) 255-5391, Fax: (607) 255-6681, E-mail: email@example.com