The Cotman Collection | 19

Cotmania. Vol. X. 1934-5

Archive: SDK Sydney Decimus Kitson Archive
Reference Number: SDK/1/2/1/10
Page: 10 recto

  • Description

    Press cutting from The Times on The Royal Institute of British Architects (R.I.B.A)

    Article discusses the opening of the new building of the R.I.B.A by the King, celebrating the institute's centenary. The President of RIBA Sir Giles Gilbert Scott spoke at the event, connecting architecture with arts and sciences, with only one reference to the past, and about the responsibilities and successes in the future. The King also made reference to the future regarding architecture. The article goes on to state there 'could be no clearer proof that architecture is, and intends to be, a living art'.

    Date: 1934-1935

  • Transcription

    The R.I.B.A.
    Yesterday, when the KING opened the new building of the Royal Institute of British Architects, the past met the future-and was routed. It would have been natural for the past to be strong enough to prevail. At any rate until quite recently architecture was the art that of all others clung to its traditions and its descent. The scene was Portland Place, which imperfectly, but still almost unbroken and on a grand scale, preserves the gracious dignity of a great period in the past of English domestic architecture. And the Institute celebrates this month the one-hundredth anniversary of its foundation. The past might well be expected to put up a very good fight and to attract the chief of the attention. And had it done so, had the speeches told only of past achievements and past honours, had none but old buildings and dead architects been held up for veneration, the effect of the ceremony upon the general public would have been to frighten them farther away than they are at present from a kind of mystery called architecture, which seems to do nothing except send up the price of buildings and set the experts quarrelling. Yesterday nothing of that sort happened. True, the President, SIR GILES GILBERT SCOTT, made one reference to the past. He quoted from the charter granted to the Institute by King William IV. But the words that he chose pointed not to architecture only but also to "the various arts and sciences connected "therewith", thus bringing the mystery within reach of other forms of human knowledge. And the KING, after a reference to the centenary, passed straight to the future. He spoke of coordination in the whole field of building; of the claims of the passer-by (he is sometimes called the man in the street); of homes for the people; of buildings along new roads and in places of beauty; and finally of "still greater "responsibilities and greater successes in the "future." In the KING'S few sentences a great deal was packed; and all of it was addressed, not to the past, but to the future.
    There could be no clearer proof that architecture is, and intends to be, a living art. There need be no fear-however defiant of old notions and aims some modern buildings may look-that architecture can ever cut clean away from its past, since no discovery of new materials can change the fundamental laws of structure, and no change of style can escape from the conditions laid down by several needs of men for houses, places of worship, places of entertainment, and so forth. Even vulgarity and conceit, though they have plenty of scope in days of change like the present, cannot do without lessons that this art has learned of the past. But not only in new styles of building must the lively future of architecture be looked for. The conception of its scope has been enlarged. An architect is regarded to-day not only as one who designs particular buildings, prescribes the materials, and instructs the contractors. He is also a general adviser on all the material setting of civilized man, at home and at work. Especially in association with his fellow architects, he may devise, or at least may guide, that vast resettlement of the population in new dwellings and new collections of dwellings, with the new roads to and about them, the new churches, the new public halls, the new factories, the new gardens, the new furniture and decoration, which the present insistently demands. The need for magnificent new buildings is still great enough to offer golden chances; but never perhaps has there been a time so rich as the present in opportunities for architecture in its wider reach. That the Institute is perfectly aware of it may be taken as proved by yesterday's ceremony, and by the very building which the KING then opened.
    {Kitson note}
    The Times. Nov: 1934.

Press cutting from The Times on The Royal Institute of British Architects (R.I.B.A)