Friday, April 19, 2019

more wood and stone...

The photo shows the inside of the loft of the large stone barn at Nääs, Sweden where I visited a few years back. The photo is fuzzy due to being taken in near darkness, but it shows the kinds of framing that one might find hidden in the remaining roof of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. For a craftsman to visit such places is a gift. This barn, all stone on the outside, was built in the 1700's.

The dairy barn that once served the castle at Nääs and then Otto Salomon's school for Sloyd is now a stable for horses, and very few would know of the wonders above. You would have to be a laborer or a sneak to find it.

John Ruskin bridged the terrain that lay between the designer and user, the economics of supply and demand by pointing out the effects of building on the builder... the common man at the heart of all things.  The following is by English professor and legal scholar John Matteson in a 2002 essay, "Constructing Ethics and the Ethics of Construction."
...we tend to think principally in terms of the relationship between producer and consumer, and we assume this to be the most significant relationship in any activity related to commerce. Our ethics unconsciously orient themselves around the relationship between supply and demand.

Ruskin is valuable to us because he did not share these assumptions. He rejected the idea that buying and selling lay at the heart of the ethics of architecture. He focused not on production for the purpose of consumption, but on the moral effect of the production upon the producer. He required above all that the process of building should, in all ways possible, enlist the emotion, the imagination, and the intellect of the laborer.
As they begin the process of saving the Notre Dame Cathedral, perhaps they should think less about what it will cost or what it will look like when fixed and more about how the process of restoration can transform and restore individuals and society. All the great monuments of architectural genius were built by common folk whose contributions should be held in the very highest regard. Plans should be cast to have the maximum developmental impact on the workmen and women, knowing that craftsmanship (not religion) is the foundation of ethical culture.

Make, fix, grow and create...

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