The Lesson of Movement

Either I’m getting weaker, or banana skins are getting stronger.

Tonight’s entry is inspired by my previous comments about Oscar Naddermier, my first architectural history lecturer. I returned to his notes and decided that they should be shared with you. Oscar preferred his students to be listening rather than writing, so he always typed out his notes himself and issued them at the start of the lecture. The next hour would be filled with wonderful slides of seminal, iconic, important architecture from all over the world; all of which he’d personally photographed. We could never quite decide on Oscar’s age but when he once told us that during his education he had met Edwin Lutyens, we knew he was passing on many years of wisdom.

A great teacher, greatly missed. Here’s a piece by him called The Lesson of Movement. It seemed the most fitting since we were previously looking at action and reaction.

Architecture Movement is the dynamic element of accommodation, the first business of a building, and is seen to purpose in the contrasting characteristics of ‘Hall’ and ‘House’.

In ‘Hall’ the plan of progression and activity in movement is memorable in form and occasion, with assurance of safety. The architecture of ‘Hall’ will declare and fulfill this common expectation with the conviction of a work of art that works. ‘Hall’ is theatre, arena and the like where symmetry rules in the round or axially, with movement in reflective order which clearly establishes and refers to front, right, left and return, the vital orientation affecting communal intelligence in an assembly: safe dispersal depends on it.

‘House’ has infinite variety of arrangement in the shape and relationships of accommodation. There is progression from room to room in royal apartments and houses of parade, and in museums; and there are arterial corridors serving rooms in hotels, hospitals, schools. In dwellings, some are wholly of rooms opening off halls and landings; others combine rooms of privacy with a living space of open quality that integrates circulation.

Movement is as varied as human behaviour, and every age has manners in moving, giving it style; but the art of design is timeless in principles that shape form to induce and control this dynamic.

The empathy between movement and repose is a visible spirit in architecture.

I’ve turned this and two other pieces into PDF files (of inexplicably varying file sizes) so that you can enjoy them in their original format; The Lesson of Light, Utilitas, Firmitas et Venustas and The Lesson of Movement.

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