Page 2, 21st December 1951

21st December 1951
Page 2
Page 2, 21st December 1951 — BUILDING OF CHURCH&S •
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Organisations: OF CHURCH, Coventry Commission
Locations: Liverpool

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BUILDING OF CHURCH&S •

Coventry Cathedral

SIR,-1 am unable to agree with Mr. lames F. Johnson ; indeed, now that fuller plans have been published and the drawings placed on view, I find Mr. Spence's design not so "uncompromisingly modern " as it first appeared to be; in fact it appears quite Gothic in character.

D. J. W. (Manchestei) points out that " few compromises are successful in architecture." yet Mr. Spence has undoubtedly seen the justification for this compromise of character in this case. in hie concern to achieve harmony in the external stone finishes and avoid that contrast with the existing Cathedral, warned against by the Coventry Commission. This harmony the architect will surely establkh further, by sensitive detailing, careful matching of scale. and wise choice of artists and artisans.

Mr. Johnson raises several points which I must answer. Let me assure him that liverpool's Anglican Cathedral and Westminster Cathedral I regard as great and valid architecture; they are beautiful expressions of all age of academic revivalism which however has now passed. Sir Edwin Lutyens's cathedral on the other hand, I cannot regard in the same light. considering it rather to he the final quip of a great architectural wit. Yet for the prospect of the cheer del:eh!. which Lutyene in this Cathedral holds out, for indulging one's architectonic appetite for proportion, geometry and textures. the design is irrestible. invalid architecture though It be, and it is good to know that construction will recommence some day, Mr. Maufe. whose architecture at Guildford Mr. aohnson applauds, was one of the assessors who chose Mr. Spence's design from the 219 entries!

As for " not being grounded in traditional forms" and being " a contrast too much to accept." 1 hope I have shown shove that the latter criticism hardly apniies in the case of Mr. Spence's design, but in a broader context it may be said that had this argument applied.in the past, we would have no St. Paul's or City Churches as we know them today: the art of Wren would never have flowered. New forms of construction were exploited immediately in the past without sentimental attachment to the old: thus, often we find the varying techniques of 500 years compressed in one building, Rest assured that if steel and ferroconcrete had been available Yevele would have used them in Westminster Abbey.

Ecclesiastical and architectural advance are inseparable in history and must be so today. yet Switzerland is almost the only country today the design of whose architects seems to answer the call of Pius X and of our present Holy Father in " Mediator Dei," and whose work truly reflects what is best in the spirit of our age.

Peter Gilby. Liverpool.




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