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This article is taken from PN Review 15, Volume 7 Number 1, September - October 1980.

Adrian Stokes on Architecture Colin St. John Wilson

'Architecture has always been my first concern'-Adrian Stokes

In the prologue to his great panegyric on the Acropolis Le Cor-busier draws attention to a commonly felt distinction. 'You employ stone, wood and concrete and with these materials you build houses and palaces; that is Construction. Ingenuity is at work. But suddenly you touch my heart. You do me good, I am happy and I say: "This is beautiful". That is Architecture.' However in spite of his intense observation and description of the Parthenon Le Corbusier does not enlarge our understanding of what happens when our emotions are aroused in this way. I have elsewhere tried to account for the intense feelings of this kind that I experienced on the turning of the stair in the portico of Schinkel's Altes Museum. 'It is as if I am being manipulated by some subliminal code, not to be translated into words, which acts directly on the nervous system and the imagination at the same time, stirring intimations of meaning with vivid spatial experience as though they were one thing-something like Wordsworth's great evocation of our wonder at nature only this time provoked by structures and images that are man-made.' For reasons upon which I shall touch in due course, the only phenomenon to which this experience can be likened is sexual attraction with which it shares some common features,-a split-second immediacy of sensation, a mingling of the visual and the visceral, an uncanny awareness of some magnetic charge in the ...


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