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Downward trajectory: towards a theory of failure

Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2011) Downward trajectory: towards a theory of failure. Architectural Research Quaterly, 15 (02). pp. 139-147. ISSN 1359-1355. (doi:10.1017/S135913551100056X) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:28059)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.
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When I first started researching the work of the Edwardian architect Horace Field (1861–1948), I soon realised that this was a man whose achievements could best be measured in terms quite antithetical to those conventionally used by architectural historians. Nearly all buildings are judged on the basis of their originality; and, if they are old, on the basis of their influence or their relationship to what subsequently became a significant direction in the arts or culture of their time. Even in a field such as the history of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, transformed by Mark Girouard and Alistair Service forty or more years ago, a story has only been worth telling when it is a story. If a collection of buildings adds up to very little, what then? Field's buildings are mostly incidental to other more interesting, more imaginative stories. Was he a failure, then, in designing buildings which fail to appear in their own right as part of a critical canon? Was he a failure too, in that his career started so promisingly and tailed away to nothing; that he was tucked away in rural Sussex, in Rye, fiddling about with old buildings and designing garages and cheap villas, while other architects of his generation spent their final years on some of the most enthralling projects of their lives? Or does the story of Field's career suggest that there are other ways to evaluate an architectural career than to tell the story of its conventionally-defined successes?

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1017/S135913551100056X
Subjects: N Visual Arts > NA Architecture
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > Kent School of Architecture and Planning
Depositing User: Timothy Brittain-Catlin
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2011 14:18 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:06 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Brittain-Catlin, Timothy.

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