Page:Old Towns and New Needs.djvu/33

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
15
OLD TOWNS AND NEW NEEDS

the future, that science must be called in to guide the measures for which necessity is clamorous. This is a self-evident truth, but up to the present it has seldom been evident to the corporations who control the destinies of our towns.

Every city should have some professional, I would sooner say some artistic guardian of its architectural interests. I use the word architectural advisedly and apply it consciously to a wider field than is generally allowed to it. A city has a corporate architecture, a cumulative architecture, no less important than the architecture of its component houses though hitherto that architecture has been disregarded, the only tribute to its very existence being the coinage of the word town-planning. The nobler word town architecture is as yet not come into use. A city is or should be a work of art. The fact that it has been built at different dates and by different minds with different aims and even different ideas of beauty is no bar to its qualification to be so considered. We do not on such grounds bar the claim of a cathedral reared in successive ages; and so when supreme difficulties of traffic, or supreme ugliness, or obvious inconvenience, or manifest social changes call imperatively for some remodelling in the city's features the aid should be sought of some artist who has made a study of the science of town-planning. It is clear, is it not, that no real work of art can be effected, either by a body of laymen elected mainly on political or economic grounds, or by an expert whose training and skill are directed to problems of a purely engineering nature. Even a corporation whose every alderman was a Michel Angelo or a Raphael would