“The Old Way of Seeing ~ How Architecture lost its magic – and how to get it back”

A Book Recommendation

The Old Way of Seeing by Jonathan Hale

This manifesto by Jonathan Hale is a must-read for Architecture students, and building lovers. It describes an aesthetic sense that cannot easily be defined.

Almost intangible, it is “the old way of seeing” – which has been lost for quite awhile now, resulting in nameless, shapeless, gutless buildings, that we have the unfortunate pleasure of having to view. Hale shows how contemporary architecture slaps on “symbols” of what it’s trying to emulate, without really understanding the mathematics of it.

For example, a Victorian commerical building can look beautiful with minimal adornment, if the proportions are correct. Meanwhile, a modern builder trying to make something look “Victorian” will slap a bunch of faux gingerbread on his building, figuring “that ought to do it”.

But the builder misses the point. There is a sophisticated system of geometry to beautiful buildings. Hale points out that Audrey Hepburn’s face is beautiful, largely because it is perfectly symmetrical. He uses her face to illustrate “The Golden Section” proportion to the accuracy of 1/1000 of a decimal. This book will definitely fascinate the reader, and it covers a lot of ground. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Perhaps we can convince the publisher to produce another run!