`Ornamentation,' says Ruskin, `is the principal part of architecture.' It is that part, he says in another place, which impresses on a building `certain characters venerable or beautiful, but otherwise unnecessary.'' Sir George Gilbert Scott amplified this surprising statement when he recommended to architects the use of the Gothic style, because its `great principle is to decorate construction.'
Modern movement has not grown from one root. One of its essential sources, it has been shown, is William Morris and the Arts and Crafts; another was Art Nouveau. The works of the nineteenth-century engineers are the third source of our present style, a source as potent as the other two.
Engineering architecture in the nineteenth century was largely based on the development of iron, first as cast iron, then as wrought iron, later as steel. Towards the end of the century, reinforced concrete appears as an alternative.
The history of iron as a material of more than auxiliary usefulness in architecture begins when the inventiveness of the Industrial Revolution had found out how iron could be produced industrially, that is after 1750.p118
Morris was the first artist (not the first thinker, for Ruskin had preceded him) to realize how precarious and decayed the social foundations of art had become during the centuries since the Renaissance, and especially during the years since Industrial Revolution.
He had been trained as an architect and as a painter, first in the Gothic studio of street, and then in the circle of the Pre-Raphaelites. But when in 1857he had to furnish his first studio in London, the thought struck him that before one can settle down to paint elevating pictures, one must be able to live in congenial surroundings, must have a decent house, and decent chairs and tables. Nothing was obtainable that could possibly satisfy him. This was the situation, which all of a sudden awakened his own personal genius: if we cannot buy solid and honest furniture, let us make it ourselves. Therefore, he and his friends set out to build chairs `such as Barbarossa might have sat in' and a table `as heavy as a rock' (Rossetti). The same experiment was repeated when Morris had a house built for his wife and himself, the famous Red House at Bexleyheath in 1859. P21-22 Red house as a whole is a building of a surprisingly independent character, solid and spacious looking and yet not in the least pretensions. He shows the red brick of the facades without covering it with plaster as Neo-Classical rules prescribed, and takes the outside appearance of the house as an expression of inside requirements without attempting a grand and useless symmetry.p59 Later on, Morris' style becomes broader and statelier and thereby loses some of its youthful and adventurous charm. Not that his creative vein was less abundant now. His very simplicity of approach led him to forms more traditional.
Morris's attitude of hatred towards modern methods of production...