So, a livable building may be made of mono-material in one operation!
There is an outer shell and an inner shell separated by a complete air space.
The inner walls, floors and ceilings which this inner shell becomes are the same as the outside walls, and, fabricated in the same way at the same time.
Windows? Made in the shop, standardized to work with the block slab units. Made of sheet-metal finished complete and set in the walls as the work proceeds.
Piping? Cut to the standard unit-length in the shop and set into hollow spaces. Plastering? None. Carpenter work? None. Masonry? None. “Form” work? None. Painting? None. Decorations? All integral, cast into the structure as designed with all the play of imagery known to Persian or Moor.
The process of elimination which standardization becomes has left only essentials. Here is a process that makes of the mechanics of concrete building a mono-material and mono-method affair instead of the usual complex quarreling aggregation of processes and materials: builds a building permanent and safe, dry and cool in the summer, dry and warm in winter. Standardization here effects economy of effort and material to the extreme, but brings with it a perfect freedom for the imagination of the designer who now has infinite variety as a possibility in ultimate effects after mastering a simple technique.
I give here only one instance of many possibilities in this one material.
What precisely has happened? Well, one consistent economical imperishable whole instead of the usual confusion of complexities to be reduced to a heap of trash by time.
A quiet orderly simplicity and all the benefits to human beings that come with it.
A simple, cheap material everywhere available, the common stuff of the community – here made rare and exquisite by the Imagination.
Imagination conceives the “fabric” of the whole. The “unit” is absorbed as agreeable texture in the pattern of the whole. Here, too, is certainty of results as well as minimum of costs assured to the human being by free use of the Machine, in perfect control. The whole now in human scale and thoroughly humane. Here is true technique. The technique of a principle at work; at work in every minor operation with this material – concrete. Here the material is affected by a process suited to the result desired to such an extent that Architecture may live in our life again in our Machine-age as a free agent of Imagination.
Copper, glass – all materials are subject to similar treatment on similar terms according to their entirely different natures.
The forms and processes will change as the material changes – but the principle will not. In the case of each different material treated the expression of the whole would become something quite different with new beauty. So comes a true variety in unity in this, the Machine Age.
Coition at last. The third dimension triumphant.
The sickening monotony achieved by a two-dimensional world in its attempts to be “different” mercifully ended, perhaps forever.
True variety now becomes a natural consequence; a natural thing. We can live again and more abundantly than ever before. Differently, yet the same.
Such harmony as we knew in the Gothic of “Le Moyen Age” is again ours – bud infinitely expanded and related to the individual Imagination, intimately, and therefore to the human being as a unit of scale.
Is Machine-Standardization a hindrance? No, a release.
Boundless possibility, and with that comes increase of responsibility. Here, in the hand of the creative-artist, in fabrication in this sense, lies the whole expression, character and style, the quality, let us say, in any spiritual sense, of modern life.
The integrity of it all as an expression is now a matter of the creative-artist’s Imagination at work.
Where is he? And if he is, may he be trusted with such power? Yes, if he has the Gift. If he is “God” in the sense that “man-light” lives in him in his work.
But should he fall short of that, if he is faithful, looking to principle for guidance, he is sufficiently disciplined by the honest technique of fabrication to be sure to produce steady quiet work.
Inspiration cannot be expected in any total fabric of civilization. It may only be expected to inspire the whole and lay bare the sense of the thing for others.
The whole is safe when discovered principle is allowed to work! Going with Nature in the use of Imagination may seem little different from going against Nature – but how different the destination and the reward!
It has been said that “Art is Art precisely in that it is not Nature,” But in “obiter-dicta” of that kind the Nature referred to is nature in its limited sense of material appearances as they lie about us and lie to us.
Nature as I have used the word must be apprehended as the life-principle constructing and making appearances what they are, for what they are and in what they are. Nature inheres in all as reality. Appearances take form and character in infinite variety to our vision because of the natural inner working of this Nature-principle.
The slightest change in a minor feature of that “Nature” will work astounding changes of expression.
When the word Nature is understood and accepted in this sense, there is no longer any question of originality. It is natural to be “original” for we are at the fountain-head of all forms whatsoever.
The man who has divined the character of the ingrown sense-of-the-pine, say, can make other pine trees true to the species as any that may continually recur in the woods; make pine-tree forms just as true to the species as we see it and as we accept it as any growing out of doors rooted in the ground.
But, principles are not formulas. Formulas may be deduced from Principles, of course. But we must never forget that even in the things of the moment principles live and formulas are dead. A yardstick is a formula – Mathematics the principle. So, beware of formulas, they are dangerous. They become inhibitions of principle rather than expressions of them in non-sentient hands.
This principle understood and put to work, what would happen to our world? What would our world be like if the Nature-principle were allowed to work in the hands of Creative imagination and the formulae kept where it belongs?
Note – the chemicalization of concrete or cement is too well-known to need any attention here.