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Preface to the Third Edition

Source:
The Oxford Dictionary of Architecture

Preface to the Third Edition

And let a scholar all Earth’s volumes carry,

He will be but a walking Dictionary.

George Chapman (1559/60–1634): The Tears of Peace (1609), l. 530.

New editions (and this Dictionary is far more than that) require new Prefaces, although the Preface to the previous edition still stands and is also presented here. Six decades studying real architecture (rather than what is too often miscalled by that term) and working with old buildings have driven home the fact that modern architectural education does not equip students for any interventions concerning existing fabric, be it of individual historic structures or established urban patterns: the tabula rasa is assumed or made, and designs pay no heed whatsoever to context. Architecture is probably one of the most politicized of professions, and, regrettably, one not strong in terms of intellectual content. Too often bullying and shouting have replaced rational argument (though the bullies and shouters ludicrously claim affinities with ‘objectivity’ and ‘rationalism’): the rot seems to have set in during the C19 when ‘moral’ arguments were used to enforce the adoption of architectural styles, and similar techniques were employed by devotees of International Modernism to insist that a limited set of clichés was universally embraced, but those clichés never added up to a vocabulary, let alone a coherent language of architecture.

The first edition of this Dictionary (1999) was centred on architecture, and the second (2006) included material on landscape architecture, although the emphasis on architecture remained. This third edition differs from the previous two. First of all, a decision was taken not to include individual biographies of living persons (though some are mentioned in relation to movements/style/building-types where appropriate) because many modern practices are huge, and any attempted entry is obsolete as soon as it is written (let alone published), and, furthermore, it is impossible to form rounded judgements about somebody’s life’s work before it is complete. Second, it was recognized that the imbalance between architecture and landscape architecture (highlighted when a thematic key was constructed) had to be addressed; there are now many more entries on landscape than in earlier editions.

Oxford University Press’s requirements to electronically track revisions and account for words (added, deleted, or revised) exposed the need for a collaborator. Following a constructive meeting in convivial surroundings with Ms Judith Wilson, Commissioning Editor at OUP, in January 2012, when the author was attending a conference at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, it was agreed to omit specific entries on living persons and strengthen the historical content (not just with terms, but biographies of architects and landscape architects). Later, over dinner at St Hugh’s, the author was fortunate to meet Dr Susan Wilson, landscape-historian, and possibilities of some sort of collaboration were discussed, followed up by several months of correspondence, then a meeting in the summer, and a fortnight of preliminary work together to test the waters, as it were. Collaboration began in earnest in October 2012, with many months of intensive work lasting as much as twelve hours a day, six days a week (and sometimes seven): the bulk of the task was completed by the end of March 2014. The complicated business of the Excel sheets (including categories, word-counts, etc.), was handled by Dr Wilson, but Mr Richard Golding also rendered generous help, sorting out problems with his accountant’s skills: he is gratefully thanked for all his efforts.

The new edition, therefore, has been greatly expanded to include almost 1,000 new entries, 50% of which are related to landscape, and for this transformation a mighty debt is owed to Dr Wilson, who not only researched and prepared many articles on landscape architects, architecture, and gardens, but organized a vast amount of material relating to the Excel sheets, thematic keys (applied to the primary activity or discipline of the topic/subject), and word-counts: the author could not have had a more dedicated collaborator and friend, whose devotion to what has proved to be a daunting task has been exemplary. She has the compiler’s gratitude for her many contributions, reliability, many suggestions, and support, unstintingly given. Her name, deservedly, now graces the title-page. Thus this volume contains much more information on landscape (ideas, people, styles, and terms), and many more entries on historical architecture are included, replacing biographies of living practitioners. This should prove useful for those involved in assessment, study, practice, conservation, and preservation in both disciplines, and for others interested in architecture and landscape in general. Illustrations are provided when appropriate, for pictures can do so much more than words to clarify matters. All drawings are by the author, and some new drawings, also by him, have been added.

A word of warning is necessary about sections on ‘architects’: in the Middle Ages many master-masons were actually architects, and until the C19 architects were skilled in surveying, and several were structurally inventive, so were also engineers. Compartmentalization of expertise is therefore comparatively recent, for many ‘engineers’ and ‘surveyors’ also had architectural knowledge and ability: even the official positions of ‘Surveyor’ to London Livery Companies or the City of London were filled by persons skilled in architecture. Similarly, the term ‘landscape architect’ includes garden-designers, gardeners, horticulturalists, etc., given that it is of relatively recent general acceptance.

In addition to the sources mentioned in the earlier Preface, Colvin’s Biographical Dictionary in its 2008 manifestation has been invaluable, and other works consulted include A Dictionary of Architecture and Building; Biographical Historical, and Descriptive by Russell Sturgis (1836–1909) published by Macmillan (1901–2); Brendan O Donoghue’s The Irish County Surveyors 1834–1944 (2007); the companion-volume to Skempton’s Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers for the period 1830–90, edited by P.S.M.Cross-Rudkin et al. (2008); the excellent online Dictionaries of Scottish Architects and Irish Architects 1720–1840; A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851 edited by Ingrid Roscoe et al. (2009), based on Rupert Gunnis’s Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660–1851 (1968); The Oxford Companion to the Garden, edited by Patrick Taylor (2006); Pioneers of American Landscape Design, edited by Charles A.Birnbaum and Robin Karson (2000); Shaping the American Landscape, edited by Charles A.Birnbaum and Stephanie S.Foell (2009); Chicago Botanic Garden Encyclopedia of Gardens: History and Design, edited by Candice A.Shoemaker (2001); Encyclopedia of 20th–Century Architecture, edited by R.Stephen Sennott (2004); Bouwkundige Termen: Verklarend woordenboek van de westerse architectuur—en bouwhistorie, edited by E.J.Haslinghuis and H.Janse (2005—which gives Dutch, English, and German equivalents); Edward Cresy’s enormous and staggeringly full An Encyclopaedia of Civil Engineering, Historical, Theoretical, and Practical (1861); the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004—with later online updates); Dictionary of Irish Biography (2009); Jane Loudon’s updated versions of J.C.Loudon’s Encyclopaedia of Cottage, Farm, and Villa Architecture (from 1846); and last, but not least, Loudon’s massive Encyclopaedia of Gardening (1835). Other sources consulted are listed in the Bibliography. However, the compiler and his collaborator are aware that the amount of material available on architecture and architects is enormous compared with that for landscape architecture and landscape architects (a trawl through the bibliography of the present work shows this very clearly), and suggest that a comprehensive dictionary of landscape architects/architecture is something that is sorely needed.

From April 2013 the author was appointed Professor at the Department of Architecture and Design, University of Ulster. Thanks are due to Professor Peter Walker, Head of the Department, for his understanding of the time needed to carry out the work on the new edition: the appointment enabled Dr Wilson to be retained as research assistant, without whose input the Dictionary could not have taken its present form, so the author records here his gratitude to Professor Walker for helping to ease the creative processes.

For the third edition Ms Judith Wilson, Mr Jamie Crowther (Assistant Commissioning Editor), and Ms Abigail Humphries Robertson of Oxford University Press have provided speedy, courteous help and encouragement, and are warmly thanked for their patience, help, and understanding. The Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects made a small personal grant available, and this is acknowledged with thanks. In addition to individuals mentioned in this and the previous Preface, the following have given generously of their time, advice, and general support, all much appreciated: Dr Tatiana Abramzon helped with matters Russian; Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin was of assistance over several points; Mr Lucas Elkin of Cambridge University Library helped to find elusive bibliographical information; the author’s wife, Professor Dorota Iwaniec, tolerated late meals (which she kindly provided), and, realizing that time was limited and long periods of concentrated work were necessary, created conditions that hugely eased pressures; Professor Gavin Stamp suggested additions and generously provided notes; the Reverend Anthony Symondson SJ kindly made suggestions concerning Dykes Bower; Mr Trevor Todd took the trouble to supply lists of omissions which he felt should be made good, and these were all taken on board and implemented; and Professor David Walker once again came up with very helpful comments in writing.

The commonest terms (e.g. arch, architect, architecture, brick, cathedral, chapel, church, column, door, garden, hall, house, landscape, monument, park, roof, theatre, tomb, tower, walk, wall, and window) are only cross-referenced where it is considered helpful for the reader to turn to those specific entries. Italics are used to draw attention to alternative names or otherwise employed for clarity. In instances where a term has more than one meaning each has been prefixed by a number in bold type (1., 2., 3., etc.), with the most usual meaning given first, and the least usual given last: in some cases, however, the numbering has no particular significance, as where two or more meanings carry equal weight.

The compiler and his collaborator embrace the idea that the intellectual content of the Dictionary might be made available through other contemporary means, in addition to the online version currently offered in parallel to the printed book itself.

Finally, the Dictionary’s Dedication to two remarkable men remains unchanged: memories of them both are undimmed.

J. S. C.

Holywood, Co. Down

2012–14