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City building according to artistic principles



In the South of Europe, and especially in Italy, where ancient cities and ancient public customs
have remained alive for ages, even to the present in some places, public squares still follow the
type of the ancient forum. They have preserved their role in public life. Their natural relationships
with the buildings which enclose them may still be readily discerned. The distinction between the
forum, or agora, and the market place also remains. As before, we find the tendency to
concentrate outstanding buildings at a single place, and to ornament this center of community
life with fountains, monuments, and statues which can bring back historical memories and which,
during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, constituted the glory and pride of each city.
It was there that traffic was most intense. That is where public festivals and theatrical
presentations were held. There it was that official ceremonies were conducted and laws
The existence of two powers, temporal and spiritual, required two distinct centers: one, the
cathedral square (Fig. 1) dominated by the campanile, the baptistry, and the palace of the
bishop; the other, the Signoria, or manor place, which is a kind of vestibule to a royal residence.
It is enclosed by houses of the countrys great and adorned with monuments. Sometimes we see
there a loggia, or open gallery, used by a military guard, or a high terrace from which laws and
public statements were promulgated. The Signoria of Florence is the finest example of this. The
market square, rarely lacking even in cities of northern Europe, is the meeting place of the
citizens. There stand the
City Hall and the more or less richly decorated traditional fountain, the sole vestige of the past
that has been conserved since the lively activity of merchants and traders has been moved
within to iron cages and glass market places.


It may be observed from old engravings that in ancient times the public places were not paved,
nor even graded, but were furrowed in paths and gutters, as may still be seen in certain villages.
If the building of a fountain were desired, it obviously would not be located on a thoroughfare, but
rather on one of the island-like plots separated from traffic. When, with an increase in wealth, the
community grew little by little, it had its public places graded and paved, but the fountain did not
change its position. When it was desired to replace it by a similar, but more elaborate, structure,
the new one was put up on the same spot.
Thus, each of these sites had its historical importance, and this explains why fountains and
monuments are not located at places of intense traffic use, nor at the center of public places, nor
on the axis of a monumental portal, but by preference to the side, even in the northern countries
where Latin traditions have not had a direct influence. This also explains why in each city and in
each public place the arrangement of monuments is different, for in each case streets open onto
the square differently; traffic follows a different direction and leaves other points free. In short,
the historical development of the public square varies according to the locality. It sometimes
happens that the centre of a public place is selected for the placement of a statue, a practice,
preferred by modern architects, was never established as a principle by the ancients. They were
not given to the excessive use of symmetry, for their fountains were built most frequently near
the angle of a public square, where the principal street opened and where draft animals were
brought for watering.
Thus to the ancient rule that prescribes the location of monuments at the edges of public squares
may be added the principle followed during the Middle Ages, especially in cities of the north,
according to which monuments and fountains were erected at points segregated from traffic. Now
and then the two principles are put into practice simultaneously. They avoid common obstacles in
seeking masterly artistic effects. Sometimes practical needs coincide with artistic requisites, and
this is understandable, for a traffic obstacle may also interfere with a good view. The location of

monuments on the axes of monumental buildings or richly adorned portals should be avoided for
it conceals worthwhile architecture from the eyes; and, reciprocally, an excessively rich and
ornate background is not appropriate for a monument.


The old practice of setting churches and palaces back against other buildings brings to mind the
ancient forum and its unbroken frame of public buildings. The old plazas produce a collective
harmonious effect because they are uniformly enclosed. In fact, the public square owes its name
to this characteristic in an expanse at the center of a city.
Today the practice is to join two streets that intersect at right angles at each corner of the square,
probably to enlarge as much as possible the opening made in the enclosure and to destroy every
impression of cohesion.
Careful study shows that there are many advantages to an arrangement of street openings in the
form of turbine arms. From any part of the square there is but one exit on the streets opening into
it, and the enclosure of buildings is not broken. It even seems to enclose the square completely,
for the buildings set at an angle conceal each other, thanks to perspective, and unsightly
impressions which might be made by openings are avoided.
(Exp The Cathedral Square at Ravenna )
The ancients had recourse to still other means of closing in their Squares. Often they broke the
infinite perspective of a street by a monumental portal or by several arcades of which the size
and number were determined by the intensity of traffic circulation. This splendid architectural
pattern has almost entirely disappeared, or, more accurately, it has been suppressed.
Columns were used with porticos to form enclosures for public squares.
At times public squares are completely surrounded by high walls opened by simple or
monumental portals,
Arcades were used to embellish monumental buildings more frequently
in former times than at present, either on the higher stories


We can distinguish between two kinds of public squares, those of depth
and those of expanse. This classification has only a relative value, however,
because it depends on the position of the observer and the direction
in which he is looking. Thus, one square could have both forms at
the same time, depending upon the observers position with respect to
a building, at the principal side or at one of the lesser sides of the
square. In general, the character of a square is determined by one building
of special importance. The position of monuments in either case
should be determined by the form of the public square. Moreover, the manner in which the
different streets
open into the square is noteworthy. Everything is arranged to present
a perfect setting. The street in front of the church does not detract
from the general effect by breaking the enclosure, since it runs perpendicular
to the direction of the observers view. It is difficult to determine the exact relationship that ought
to exist
between the magnitude of a square and the buildings which enclose it,
but clearly it should be a harmonious balance. An excessively small
square is worthless for a monumental structure. A square that is too big
is even worse, for it will have the effect of reducing its dimensions,
however colossal they may actually be.
The principal squares of large cities are larger than those of small
In each city some principal public squares have expansive dimensions,
while others must remain within confined limits.
The dimensions of public squares also depend on the importance of
the principal buildings that dominate them; or, put another way, the

height of the principal building, measured from the ground to the

cornice, should be in proportion to the dimension of the public square
measured perpendicularly in the direction of the principal faade. In
public squares of depth the height of the facade of the church should
be compared with the depth of the square. In public squares of expanse
the height of the facade of the palace or public building should be
compared with the breadth of the square.


Let us study another example from the plan of Modena (Fig. 19). The
Piazza Grande is evidently intended to set off the lateral faade of the
church. It is also of rather elongated shape and extends beyond the
vault. This might be expressed theoretically by saying that a faade
square and a vault square are joined together. The squares I and II are,
on the contrary, quite distinct from each other. The Piazza Grande
makes a complete entity by itself, and the Piazza Torre likewise has its
individual character. Its purpose is to open up a perspective on the
church tower, which thus produces its entire effect. Moreover, Square
I, which commands the principal faade, is deep, conforming to the
rule. The street opening there in the direction of the portal does not
interfere with the harmony of the whole. At Lucca the Piazza Grande
and the double square at the Cathedral, with one part in front of the
church and the other at its side, establish a comparable rule. These
examples, which could be multiplied indefinitely, demonstrate that
the different facades of buildings have determined the form of the
corresponding public squares in order to produce a fine work. In fact,
it is not likely that two or three squares would have been created
unless the various facades of a church could be readily adapted to it
afterward. In any case, it is certain that this combination brings out all
the beauties of a monumental building. We can scarcely ask for more
than three squares and three different views, each forming a harmonious
whole, around a single church.

ne Cit Industrielle portrays a utopian, modernist vision that in

corporates functionalist principles a decade before they were

advocated by any other architect (Miriani, 1990). Garnier envisioned
an entire city in plan and in detail, including schools, hospitals,
factories, residential quarters and recreational facilities. His generating
concepts included a decentralized layout, traffic-free pedestrian zones,
and residential districts with gardens to emphasize continuous pedestrian
circulation and orientation and placement to follow local climatic
design variables. In the Preface to Une Cit Industrielle, presented below,
Garnier includes regulations to institute his design and plannng principles.
The proposed materials and building techniques of reinforced
concreteup to then used only experimentallywould permit open
plans and roof terraces, and glass windows disposed generously for sunlight
and natural ventilation.


The town is assumed to be of average size, to have a population of
35,000 inhabitants.
. It is also assumed that the site includes an equal amount of hillside and level plain that is
transected by a river.
. The
setting is assumed to be southeastern France and the building materials
proposed are indigenous to the region.
In this case, the determining factor
is taken to be a rushing stream that is advantageous for a dam and
location of a hydroelectric power station to provide electricity for heating,
lighting and power for factories and town. There are also mines
although these could be assumed to be located farther away.
The main factory is situated in the plain, where the stream meets the river.
A major railway line runs between the factory and the town, located
above on a higher plain. Higher still are the well-spaced hospital buildings.
Like the town itself, these are shielded from cold winds, oriented to the
southern sun on terraces sloping facing the river
To arrive at a design that completely fulfills the moral and material
needs of the individual, a set of standards are established concerning traffic
circulation, hygiene, and so on. The assumption is that a certain progress
of social order would have already established such standards, thus insuring
the adoption of such regulations although these are completely unrecognized by current law. As
such, it is assumed that there is the
enabling public power of eminent domain, governance of uses of the
land, distribution of water, food essentials and medicines, and the
reutilization of refuse.

Building regulations:
In residences, each bedroom should have at least one south-facing
window, large enough to illuminate the whole room and admit direct
All spaces in residences, however small, should be illuminated and
ventilated directly from outside and not rely upon internal shafts
House interiors (walls, floors, and so forth) should be of a smooth
surface with rounded corners
These standards, required for residential construction, will, whenever
possible, also serve as guidelines for public buildings.

The area in residential quarters is subdivided into blocks measuring

150 meters in the east-west direction and 30 meters in the northsouth.
These blocks are then divided into lots of 15 by 15 meters, each
one abutting directly onto the street.
A residence or any building for a public function may occupy one or
more lots. But the area of lot coverage for construction must always be
less than half the entire site, with the remainder devoted to public garden
accessible to pedestrian use: that is, each building lot must include a
public pathway available from the street to the building behind.
This arrangement makes it possible for pedestrians to cross the city in
any direction, independent of the street pattern. The land of the town
as a whole is similar to a great park, free of enclosures and walls delimiting
the terrain. The minimum distance between two houses in the
north-south direction is equal to at least the height of the construction
situated to the south. Due to these planning standardswhich limit
site coverage and prohibit the use of enclosuresand also because the
land is graded for drainage, there is great variety in overall design.
The town is composed of a grid of parallel and perpendicular streets.
Its main street originates at the railway station and runs east-west. The
north-south roads, tree-lined on either side, are 20 meters wide and
planted on both sides. The east-west roads are 13 or 19 meters wide;
those of 19 meters are planted on the south side.

At the center of the city, an extensive area is reserved for public buildings.
They form three groups:

Group I: Administrative services and meeting halls

A very open hall continuously accessible to the public, with a capacity
of 3,000; the hall is equipped with public notice boards and
a public address system to amplify meeting or musical entertainment;
it is also used for large-scale meetings
A second hall with amphitheater seating for 1,000 people, and two
further amphitheaters for 500; all are equipped for conferences and
film projection
A large number of small meeting rooms (each with its own office
and changing room) for unions, associations, and other groups
All these rooms are located beneath a vast portico that provides a covered
promenade for the town center and a spacious area where people
can meet, sheltered in case of inclement weather.
To the south of this portico is the clock tower, visible along the length
of the main street. It is a landmark indicating the center of town. The
administrative services include:
A building containing municipal offices open to the public records
(births, marriages, and deaths), and an arbitration tribunal; each of

these will include rooms for the public, committees, and related offices
An office building for all those branches of civic government that
require at least one clerk in direct contact with the administration
A building for social research
A building for archives, sited near the fire station
There will also be an office housing the labor organizations, which
include employment registry office; information offices; offices for
trade union organizations and associations; temporary residences and
cafeterias. There are also special advisory offices, including a building
fitted out as a medical clinic, a pharmacy, and a center for hydrotherapy.
Further south on the main street is the central post and telecommunications
office, with complete mail, telex and telephone facilities.
II. Museums
Historical collections and important archaeological, artistic, industrial
and commercial documents relating to the city; permanent
monuments will be erected in the park surrounding the rooms
containing the archives
Botanical collections; in the garden and in a large greenhouse
The library, including a spacious reading room (one side devoted
to library volumes, the other to periodicals and newspapers) and a
large map room (at its center a vast globe fitted with a stair to
facilitate consultation). Located at the entrance to the library are
service rooms for cataloging, book maintenance, book-binding,
archiving, printing, a book loan office, and so forth.; surrounding
these are the various storerooms
A large separate hall for temporary exhibitions; with four entrances
so that several small exhibits can be set up at once, or a large exhibition
can utilize the entire hall
III. Facilities for sports and entertainment
A hall for entertainment and theater (1,900 seats), with all necessary
support facilities; movable stage sets for quick scene changes
(to eliminate equipment above and below the stage); green rooms
for performers, orchestra and for theater sets; cloakrooms, toilets,
foyer, and public restaurant
A semi-circular amphitheater (after the ancient Greek theater) for
open-air performances framed within a natural landscape
A large public bath building with heated and unheated pools, changing
cabins and bathing pools, shower rooms, massage and relaxation
rooms, a restaurant, a fencing room, and tracks for athletic training
Athletic fields (tennis courts, football pitches, and so forth), tracks
for cycling and running; areas for high jump and discus throwing,
and so forth; this area will be bordered by covered grandstands and
grassy terraces screened by trees

Conveniently located throughout the citys neighborhoods are primary
schools for children up to approximately fourteen years of age.
Schools will be coeducational
A special landscaped street will separate the
classes for smaller children from those of their elders, and will provide
a play area for use between classes. Recreation areas will also include
arcades and open porticoes. Schools will be equipped with projection

theatres in addition to the necessary classrooms.

Secondary schools will be situated at the most northeastern point of
the town. The curriculum will be addressed to the needs of an industrial
town. For the majority of students, the education will involve
general courses in vocational studies.
The professional arts school is intended to prepare those who will
engage in artistic production.
The professional industrial school is concerned primarily with supporting
the two major industries of the region, metallurgy and silk
production, and will offer specialized courses devoted to the study of
production and procedures.

The hospitals (715 beds) are situated on the hillside north of the city
center. They are sheltered from the cold mountain winds by trees forming
a screen to the east and west. The complex contains four main
Heliotherapy center
Hospital for contagious diseases
Hospital for invalids
The plan as a whole as well as in detail has been designed according to
current standards of medical science. Each section is disposed to accommodate
future expansion.

The railway station square will
face an open-air market.
The station is of average size and is sited at the intersection of the great
artery leading out of town and the streets leading to the older developed
area along the riverbanks. The main building opens onto the
square and its clock tower is visible from all over town.
Public amenities are at street level and underground walkways are
equipped with platforms and waiting rooms. The railway yard is situated
farther to the east, with the sidings serving the factory to the west.
The railway tracks are planned as straight lines, so that trains can move
as rapidly as possible.

The main factory is a metallurgy works. Nearby mines supply raw
materials. Energy is generated from the local hydropower site and
power plant.
The factory complex includes blast furnaces, steel mills, workshops
with large presses and power hammers, assembly and repair shops, a
dock for launching and repairing ships, a river port, workshops for
outfitting automobile bodies, and workshops for refractories. It also
includes vehicle testing tracks, numerous laboratories, and housing for
engineering staff.
Support facilities will be distributed throughout the complex, including
rest rooms, changing rooms, cafeteria, and first aid points.
Each department is arranged to
allow for future expansion without curtailing other parts of the complex.
Around the center of the city, other manufacturing facilities may be
added, including farmsteads for food production, silkworm production,
spinning-mills, and so forth.