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Arts and Crafts

Origins --- Belief System --- Political Situation --- Arts and Crafts Architecture

Arts and Crafts in Britain --- The Red House--- 19 Lincoln Inn Field--- Standen

-------------Old Swan House----- Tabard Inn ---- Glasgow School of Art --- Hill House --- Tea Room

Arts and Crafts in Europe --- Casa Batllo--- Casa del Baró de Quadras -- Amsterdam

Arts and Crafts in North America ---- Studio Building FLW--- Moore House-- Auditorium

Origins

Arts and Crafts architecture is unique in that there is no recognizable style, no lexicon of terms or ornaments, no formal design principles and no underlying colours, textures, symbols or signs that unite the work. Rather it is an attitude shared by architects who can be described not so much for what they were as for what they were not.

Nineteenth century architecture was immersed in a battle of styles: Classical versus Gothic. Variations of revived Classical architecture vied with variations on revived Gothic architecture and those were both victims of excessive ornamentation and gross sentimentality since both styles had been reused, century after century, until the variations had become tired and repetitive. The Industrial Revolution coupled with a migration to cities and a growing middle class based on commerce instead of heredity resulted in a questioning of every aspect of the established social order. Arts and Crafts architecture grew out of the writings and inspiration of the Gothic Revival style: both styles being a direct response to the overbearing influence of the Classical in architecture. The styles are very different, but the attitudes towards craftsmanship, handwork and medieval sensibilities are found in both. Gothic Revival was a reaction to Classical eclecticism. Arts and Crafts was a reaction to all eclecticism and historisizing detail.

For the Arts and Crafts movement, the writings of the two Gothic Revival champions, August Pugin and John Ruskin, provided the inspiration to look back to medieval times for purity of the design process, but also the aesthetic behind the creation of medieval buildings.

Classical architecture is the architecture of empire. Prior to 1850, most empires were based on slavery. Thus Classical architecture was seen by Ruskin as the architecture of slavery. Every aspect of the design was spelled out with very clearly defined proportions and rigid geometric rules. Any slave could produce it if he was beaten hard enough. Gothic, on the other hand, was produced by free men in a free and spontaneous manner. The masons and craftsmen producing the work were providing their unique responses to both the layout of the building and the decoration of it through observation of nature.

Pugin was the earlier of these two writers and his message was fidelity to place: let the building fit into its environment. Ruskin's writing continued on that theme emphasizing fidelity to function: the building must follow the needs of the interior space.

Ruskin preached not only a return to craftsmanship and the organic forms of the Gothic, but also a form of socialism. The French Revolution of 1789 - 1799 left all of Europe reeling with the possibilities of a stronger working class. The beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century was changing the fabric of society and inviting autonomy for people other than those born into the aristocracy. The social trends provided by these two influences plus the writings of Ruskin channeled through William Morris became the Arts and Crafts movement. It was not just a style, it was a philosophy.

Belief System

Unlike Classical that was originally based on temples to honour the Greek Gods and Gothic that was originally intended for church buildings where the 'light' of God could warm and enliven the room, Arts and crafts is not based on any religious theory. Having said that, there is an almost religious, definitely mystical sensibility that can be seen to transcend the mere functionality of the work.

Political Situation

Arts and Crafts architects were part of a wave of reform that embraced every aspect of society. On both sides of the Atlantic designers felt that a change in attitude, a change in the very basis of the political system, could be nurtured by a change in architecture and the objects of every day life. Arts and Crafts challenged the accepted norms of revivalism and provided a style based on individuality, simplicity and form based on the function of the building rather than an expression of the owners political or social position.

The Gothic Revival in the first half of the 19th century is seen as a romantic reaction against everything that the Industrial Revolution stood for, both socially and technologically. During the second half of the century, the Arts and Crafts reaction against commercialism was more fierce, more widespread, and more inclusive of other forms of art. Architecture was meant to grow free of imposed style to meet the needs of ordinary people. By the mid-nineteenth century there were enough people solidly established in the middle classes to make this movement possible.

Arts and Crafts Architecture

Essentially the Arts and Crafts style championed the individual. These architects no longer thought it was either appropriate or necessary to apply foreign styles that were not befitting either the climate or the client. The form of the buildings differs from country to country and even from architect to architect, but the fundamental approach is based on harmony with nature and good design without eclecticism.

The buildings are generally residences and small businesses. They are informal and friendly. They are designed to fit into their environment as if they grew there and take advantage of the natural movement of the sun to provide both light and heat. The relationship between the house and the surrounding gardens was paramount. Discrete entrances, often on the side replace the huge porticoed entrances of the Classical styles.

The massing of the house is generated by the arrangement of the interior spaces, not by some predetermined geometric grid. Particularly in residences, the design should evoke a sense of shelter, warmth and solidity as opposed to reflecting the owner's social position by means of ornate carvings and detailing imported from Greek or Rome. Finally the materials used on the property should be simple, well crafted and honest. Un adroned brick, stone, stucco and wood with structural elements exposed were the preferred materials. Windows were usually casements with leaded glass. The forms of the house were menat to express the beauty of the form within the natural environment. Decoration, if there was any, was taken from nature.

William Morris

Just as Abbé Suger is the father of Gothic architecture and H.H. Richardson is the father of American architecture, William Morris is the father of Arts and Crafts. Morris's designs and writings provided a fundamental shift in attitude that was felt across the whole spectrum of Western Architecture and design. From this movement came the Art Nouveau movement in Paris, Brussels and Nancy, the style Florial in Milan and Turin, the Jugendstil in Munich and Berlin, National Romanticism in Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen, and the Prairie School in America. In addition, individual architects such as Charles Rennie MacIntosh, Antonio Gaudi, and Frank Lloyd Wright who can be classified into a few movements but really belong to a stratosphere all their own were inspired by the emphasis on the inspiration of the individual.

Arts and Crafts in Britain

The Arts and Crafts movement in Britain was a reaction to the Industrial Age and the dehumanization of people that resulted from the sudden restructuring of the population to accommodate large factories. It was a social movement that encompassed artistic, ideological, even political, ideals which affected many forms of visual art from pottery and wallpaper to furniture design and finally architecture. The roots of the movement can be found in the writings of John Ruskin, the major critic of the century, whose violent reaction to mass produced decoration and artifacts found in the Great Exhibition in London 1851 can be read in The Stones of Venice and The Seven Lamps of Architecture. Ruskin argues that British decoration should be based on a Northern aesthetic as opposed to an Italian one, and that art and architecture both should reflect man's connection with nature and the curious kinship between man and his craft. He argued that industrialization was separating man from his tools and that the result was not simply less beautiful, but also morally bankrupt.

 

William Morris was the driving force behind the Arts and Crafts Movement. His early life was spent on a large, self sustaining, wooded estate owned and operated by his parents. He enjoyed limitless time to fish, ride his pony through the forest, and discover the natural beauty of birds, animals and plant life. His adult life was spent trying to recreate these idyllic formative years. During the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s, he and his associates, specifically Philip Webb, developed a style of architecture and design accompanying an aesthetic for craftsmanship and fidelity to materials that spread throughout Europe and North America influencing every aspect of interior and exterior design in a wide variety of styles. The company that Morris developed, Morris and Co., was involved in the production of furniture, pottery, wallpaper, and metals. The quality of this work, still found in abundance today, needs no further qualifiers.

The Arts and Crafts movment spread through Britain during the late 19th century. Norman Shaw was an important influence in residential architecture as well as his New Scotland Yard building. Ernest George and Thomas jackson are other important influences on the later part of the century. In Scotland C.R. MacIntosh produced the Glasgow School of Art, the teaRoom and a few houses, then gave up architecture to devote himself to painting.

Philip Webb
The Red House 1859

The Red House in Bexley heath is the first example of Arts and Crafts architecture. It was built by Philip Webb for the newly married William Mrris, and it is the only house that Morris ever had built.

The plan is a series of rooms connected by a long corridor and constructed on an L shape providing a courtyard around the well. The well was necessary as there was then no main water. The stair tower is at the crossing of the L.

The Red House

Philip Webb
The Red House

The plan of the house was revolutionary. Ruskins idea of architecture was that the function of each room should be immediately apparent from the outside, in contrast with the Classical pentient for rooms arranged inside to suit established conventions of external appearance. Here Webb has provided a series of rooms linked by a corridor. This had never been done before in a small house. This arrangement of rooms provides a beautiful sheltered courtyard.

The garden is faced by the corridor. Apparently Philip Webb realised his mistake as soon as it was built and from then on never wanted to hear about the Red House again. It was this that lead him to say that "no architect ought to be allowed to build a house until he was forty."

The courtyard is delightfully picturesque with the local orange brick against the very green grass of England. The bricks are placed masterfully creating two centered discharging arches above the windows.

Red House Well

Philip Webb
The Red House

The upper hall stairwell is an example of the quirky and interesting shapes developed by the style as a result of the 'form fits function' aesthetic. The staircase needed a landing. A full bay was not needed, only a short landing extending but a few feet from the main structure of the house. Webb's solution was to have the brickwork extend up the side of the house as if it was growing there.

Leaded fixed windows provide light for the landing, but the bottom of the structure still allows for a casement window below. Random placement of windows is part of the basis of the style.

 

The Red House

Philip Webb
The Red House

This chimney detail shows the extent to which materials were experimented with in order to provide an interesting final product.

 

The Red House

Philip Webb
19 Lincoln's Inn Field

To the untrained eye this building is not too remarkable, fitting nicely between two others in a typical Georgian terrace. For the time, however, this was radical and ground breaking. A central stone bay on a brick background was unheard of in an 18th century square.

Webb was passionate about getting the effects of traditional craftsmanship on his buildings. By this time the bricks would have been mass produced, but they are still applied with brilliant craftsmanship. Careful attention to detail can be seen in the piers which are perfectly proportioned to make use of headers and stretchers with interesting interior patterns.

Lincoln's Inn Field

Philip Webb
19 Lincoln's Inn Field

The door on 19 Lincoln Inn Field is also remarkable. Instead of the typical classical portico supported by four or six Ionic columns, this doorway is protected by a simple gable-hooded porch. The fanlight is not an elaborate elliptical affair but a simple equilateral arch with a grid pattern on the panes.

Lincolns Inn Feild

Philip Webb

Standen, Sussex 1894

Standen is constructed using local materials only, and a wide variety of them. The farmhouse that was originally on the site was encorporated into the design. The main family oriented spaces face south, the morning room faces east, and every room opens up onto a perennial garden. In fact it is known as the Arst and Crafst garden.

Standen was commissioned by a solicitor, J.S. Beale.

Sanden

Norman Shaw

Old Swan House

The second major figure in English Arts and Crafts is Norman Shaw whose interest was in the houses and villages of Kent and Sussex. His designs employ an eclectic mixture of visual styles and details from the country homes and pubs from the English country side. His influence can be seen in Arts and Crafst buildings as well as Queen Anne Revival, a style that he was instrumental in bringing to England and later North America. His designs evoke the gentility of a past time.

The Old Swan House in London was a mixture of old English styles ans symbols with the new flowery style being introduced by Art Nouveau designers from the continent. This building is symmetrical but most of his larger wrok is not.

Old Swan House

Norman Shaw

The Tabard Inn

Possibly Shaw's best known work is the suburb of Bedford Park. In the mid 1870's a speculator named Jonathon Carr bought the estate called Bedford park which was situated near the new railway station at Turnham Green. he asked Shaw to design a set of standard house plans for the new suburb. These plans were so successful in providing cozy private houses within private gardens that they became the standard for suburb design for forty years. The tabard Pub was the commercial building within the specualtive work. It is a pub, a coffee shop and a department store. The design and materials are those of a traditional village pub.

Tabard Inn

Glasgow School of Art

Mackintosh 1899

The Scottish faction of British Arts and Crafts revolves around the genius of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. He and his small group of architects designed residences, small businesses, and this one spectacular educational building that solidified Mackintosh's reputation internationally.

The Glasgow School of Art is one of only five buildings designed by Mackintosh. Unlike the English Arts and crafst architects who wove many kinds of coloured materials, brick, stone, stucco and wood, into an English counry setting, Mackintosh used an achromatic palette of whites, greys and black with accents of bright colours, usually behind light.

The north facing front façade is ashlar finished with huge lead encased windows that take advantage of any natural light, most painters prefer a north facing window in that the light is more constant and free of shadows. The entrance bay is a- symmetrical. The ornament along the front is characteristic of Mackintosh: there is a balustrade of great originality and front face that is curned in unexpected directions.

Glasgow School of Art

Glasgow School of Art

Mackintosh 1899

The entrance on the western façade is equally original. Like many Arts and Crafts entrances, the door is placed behind an obstruction, in this case an undulating stone wall.

The door surround is a medieval looking hood mold. The keystone over the door on the flat arch is indented rather than projecting. The windows are almost an oriel style with unadorned ashlar surfaced bases and heavy stone caps. The glass itself is in a squared, lead, grid pattern.

Glasgow School of Art

Glasgow School of Art

Mackintosh 1899

The east façade is a fanciful mixture of elements. A polygonal bay is found on the upper stories with an exaggerated cornice over the lower window.

A set of paired windows have no lintels, but a large curved sill. The windows themselves curve into the wall. Underneath this is a curious hood that is almost a curved pediment with an encloded lunette.

The arrangement of the windows is random, all the windows are original in design, the leaded glass providing the only uniformity.

Glasgow School of Art

Glasgow School of Art

Mackintosh 1899

It is in the metal ornament that Mackintosh gives way to his creative urges. Against the stark ashlar surface, these almost Art Nouveau accents provide another unifying feature around the building and across his work. .

Glasgow School of Art Rustication Palazzo Entrance

Glasgow School of Art

Mackintosh 1899

One of mackintosh's signature effects is the repetition of systems of ornament across a façade or surface. Here on the balustrade he has placed a series of clustered metal tulips along the metal bars. The base of the balustrade swoops in even stone curves along the sidewalk, the ornaments swoop over in the opposite direction.

Glasgow School of Art Rustication Palazzo Entrance

Glasgow School of Art

Mackintosh 1899

T

Glasgow School of Art Rustication Palazzo Entrance

Hill House 1902

Mackintosh

The gate at Hill House provides another venue for Mackintosh's metalwork. The ornament is similar to that above, but designed for this house in particular, the design being taken from the flowers and ferns around the garden.

Tea Room Rustication Palazzo Entrance

Hill House

Mackintosh

The exterior of the house has the monochrome finish that Mackintosh is famous for. It is derived from the harlinged walls of Scottish eighteenth century country houses. The roof is slate.

The exterior of the house is absolutely free of historical detail. Even the shape of the chimney is more like a country cottage than a manor house.

Tea Room Rustication Palazzo Entrance

Hill House

Mackintosh

The really startling part of the Hill House is its similarity to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Seeing this interior, you might think it was the Robie House or the Winslow House, but this was, in fact, built 4 years before the Robie house.

The interior design and furnishings were as much the result of his wife's work as his own. Margaret macDonald and her sister Frances were well known Arts and Crafts furniture designers. They exhibited in the 1896 A&C Society show in London where they met English contemporaries.

Arts and Crafts Light Rustication Palazzo Entrance

Glasgow Tea Room

Mackintosh

The Tea Room was one of the few commercial buildings that mackintosh finished.

Tea Room Rustication Palazzo Entrance

Glasgow School of Art

Mackintosh

T

Tea Room Rustication Palazzo Entrance

Glasgow School of Art

Mackintosh

T

Arts and Crafts Light Rustication Palazzo Entrance

Arts and Crafts on the Continent

The French Revolution had a huge impact on all European countries. By 1850, every country was involved in a process of redefining their national identity. Royalty and the upper classes had, for centuries, intermarried and interwoven themselves within an elevated culture. The culture of the people in the lower and middle classes was different in every country and every region. the Arts and Crafts

movement thus became part of the international concern for national identity. In all countries across Europe, people began to applaud the 'talented amateur', the person who worked on fabrics or tapestries, woodworking or furniture design, painting or architecture as an enthusiast rather than as a professional. Each of these varied attitude was part of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Casa Batlló - Gaudi

Compared

 

Casa 
                  Batlló

Casa Batlló - Gaudi

Compared

 

Casa 
                  Batlló

Casa del Baró de Quadras

Gaudi

Sullivan

Casa 
                  del Baró de Quadras

Casa del Baró de Quadras

Gaudi

Compared

Casa 
                  del Baró de Quadras

Amsterdam

Gaudi

 

Casa 
                  del Baró de Quadras

Arts and Crafts in North America

In America, more than Canada, there was a quest to create an American architecture that was not based on the styles and methods of the countries that people had voluntarily left behind. From 1776 when the new republic in America declared a fundamental break with England, designers and architects were looking for a style that expressed the American spirit leaving the Old World behind.

The Arts and Crafts movement was the first cohesive attempt at foraging a national aesthetic in architecture and the decorative arts. Architects such as Richardson, Sullivan and Wright all proclaimed the need for an independant spirit, a unique identity. Architects such as Stickly and Greene and Greene provided the new form within an American context.

Studio Building 1891
Frank Lloyd Wright

This building is beautifully integrated with the surrounding garden. There is nothing historical about the form, indeed nothing about the massing of the building had been seen before either in North America or in Europe. The materials used are local, vernacular, and 'honest' (as opposed to imported marble carved into Greek shapes and covered with Amazon gold, as was happening in England, France, Germany, Russia, Estonia, etc. with the Classical Revival).

 

Studio Building

Studio Building 1891
Frank Lloyd Wright

The entrance to an Arts and Crafts property is always discrete, without fanfair, without ostentation, without pomp and circumstance. Here a small brick partition separates the door from the street. Again the materilas are organic, local and intermingled with plantlife.

 

Studio Building

Studio Building 1891
Frank Lloyd Wright

The garden was an intrinsic part of the whole design. The shrubs and trees were part of the overall plan.

Studio Building

Studio Building 1891
Frank Lloyd Wright

Like the Red House, Wright could not find anything that suited the new style of his houses, so he designed columns, furniture, and ornament himself to fit into his designs. This decorated post leads into the entrance for his studio. Like Richardson, Wright worked from home. There were a few employees and later apprentices who worked with hi from his home.

Studio Building

Studio Building 1891
Frank Lloyd Wright

Most of Wright's buildings had some form of sculpture. This female figure was created for this spot.

 

Studio Building

Moore House
Frank Lloyd Wright

The Moore house, directly across the street from the studio building, is one of the first and only buildings that is recognisably historical. The verticality and the massing of the building are all Gothic in flavour. Note the size of the chimney.

Moore

Moore House
Frank Lloyd Wright

This detail is clearly Gothic, but it is not within the realm of possabilities that a Decorated French Gothic window of these proportions would be found extruding from a brick wall and under a garrison in a French or English building.

Moore House

Moore House
Frank Lloyd Wright

The balustrade is an example of Sullivan's influence on Wright.

Moore House

Moore House
Frank Lloyd Wright

The dromer, as well, is like no other dormer.

Moore House

Moore House
Frank Lloyd Wright

The

Carson Pirie Scott

Arts and Crafts Further Reading

Books

Brooks, H. Allen, Prairie School Architecture, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1975

Brooks, H. Allen, The Prairie School, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1972

Brown, Douglas, Eden Smith, Toronto's Arts and Crafts Architect, New York, Twayne Publishers 2003

Clarke, Kenneth, The Gothic Revival , London, Constable and Company, 1928

Cumming, Elizabeth, Kaplan, Wendy, The Arts and Crafts Movement, London: Thames and Hudson, 1991

Davey,Peter, Arts and Crafts Architecture, Chatham G.B. , W.H.MacKay Limited, 1980

Kaplan, Wendy, Encyclopedia of Arts and Crafts: The International Arts Movement 1850 - 1920, London: Quatro Publishing, 1989

Kristofferson, Robert B, Craft Capitalism
Craftworkers and Early Industrialization in Hamilton Ontario, 1840-1872
, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 2007

Weaver, Lawrence, Small Country Houses of Today , London, Country Life, 1890

Stansky,Peter, Redesigning the World , Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1985

Weir, Scott, "The beauty of function" National Post, Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wilson, Richard Guy, From Architecture to Object: Masterworks of the American Arts and crafts Movement, New York, Dutton Studio Books, 1989

 

Films

Gibbon, Edward, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume IV, London, Methuen & Co.

Gibbon, Edward, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume VI, London, Methuen & Co.

Kaldellis,Anthony, Procopius of Caesarea : Tyranny, History, and Philosophy at the End of Antiquity .Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, c2004

Maas, Michael, The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian, New York, Cambriddge University Press, 2004

Mango, Cyril, The Art of the Byzantine Empire, 312-1453; sources and documents, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, [1972] N6250.M25

Mango, Cyril and Roger Scott, The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1997

Krautheimer,Richard, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Press, 1986.

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