It was felt that architects could and should write. This was the Humanist literary culture that puts human interest and the mind of ‘man’ as paramount. Christof Thoenes, in his introduction to Architectural Theory: from the Renaissance to the Present points out that Alberti, a scholar and man of books but with no training in craftsmanship and so therefore could never have become a good sculptor or painter (which required the hands on experience of the craftsman) but became, instead, one of the greatest architects of his time. “In contrast to the number of architects who were writing the number of visual artists who tried their hand at literature was quite small”. He goes on to point out that: “there are, however, some successful, indeed outstanding writer/architects, (for example Vignola and Palladio) whose status in the history of architecture is due as much to their building accomplishments as to their writing”.
For Richard Reid and Associates it was the writing of Professor Ronald Brunskill and Professor Maurice Barley, that inspired our studies of the vernacular tradition (The Shell Book of Cottages and The Georgian House and its Details) but it was Ruskin’s The Stones of Venice, Gordon Cullen’s Townscape and Peter Davey’s Arts and Crafts Architecture as well as the work of the many Pugin Scholars that encouraged us to take up pen and pencil and to go out into the towns and villages with our sketch pads in hand to sit down and draw the world around us – Some Pages from a Sketchbook (1987); Main Street is Almost All Right: The View from the Road in American Painting 1913 – 1950 (1997); Are the Artistic Principles of City Planning Dead and Buried? (2006) – and it is by drawing that we get the time to form a better understanding
of the “spirit of a place” and its role in the creation of space.