Beauty isn’t so difficult

Prague

I took this from the bridge in the photo above, looking toward the Old Town.

I took this from the bridge in the photo above, looking toward the Old Town.

How do they do it? Beauty. Other things being equal, people spend much of their discretionary time in places where it is enough merely to be there to feel pleasure beyond what can normally be felt at home. Building beauty is not rocket science, or unduly expensive. Most societies have, in the modern era, simply decided against it. Places like Providence have destroyed less of their beauty than other places, and built less ugliness in its place. Prague is another such place. Why don’t other places follow its example? There are explanations for this – they are not good ones, in fact they verge on evil, but they do exist – but rather than drag them out here I will simply post this piece of beautiful photos of Prague published by huffingtonpost.com.

That’s my case and I’m sticking to it.

(I trust that all readers understand that I mean amid the broad range of choice in methods available for improving a society, building beautiful rather than ugly is an easy one compared with choices on such matters as improving the schools, improving the environment, improving the environment for business, reducing the crime rate, reducing the income gap, etc. I do not mean that making beauty is “easy.”)

The photo of Prague at the top of this post is from iises.net, web site of the International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences, which held its annual conference in Prague last September. I visited in 2005 and have my own favorite shot of Prague [which is the inset photo above. The reblog has upset the original post’s arrangement, for which I can only express my regret. The architecture of cities and buildings doesn’t degenerate quite so easily as the architecture of a piece of illustrated bloviation on the internet.]

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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4 Responses to Beauty isn’t so difficult

  1. Very nice! I have sketched this very bridge in your first picture before. I’ve never been there, and I drew it from other people’s travel photo.

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  2. Reblogged this on Architecture Here and There and commented:

    On Thursday I will speak at Rosecliff, the famous mansion on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, R.I. The event, sponsored by the Preservation Society of Newport County, begins at 6 p.m. It is open to the public, with a fee of $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers.

    As I prepare my presentation for the event, the question of beauty looms large. I stumbled on a post from May 2014 about the lovely addition to the Newport Casino then about to be announced. The next post back, I found, was this one about beauty, and not just in Prague. Please enjoy! And please come to Thurdsay evening’s event at Rosecliff.

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  3. barry says:

    I note the almost complete absence of motor vehicles in the photos. They, and their infrastructure would detract from such scenes. Indeed pre-auto age Providence scenes that I’ve seen at City Hall and URI-Providnce capture similar beauty of great buildings in streetscapes uninterrupted by parking lots and garages. We can’t recapture that but I hope the proposed pedestrian bridge on the old I-195 right of way is an opportunity, if done right, to replicate some of what the bridge in the Prague photo does.

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