Scruton presents Krier’s architectural proposal as an antidote to modernist architectures, trying to “extract” the general principles of a healthy architecture, as reflected in the history of Europe. Here are select excerpts from Scruton’s, Cities for Living (City Journal), which you can combine with Scruton’s, Architecture needs a grammar.
Scruton rightly traces the origin of the European city in Ancient Greece, but he tends to forget that the buildings, types and logic he admires were developed in the Middle Ages, in the Christian Europe. In ancient Greece too religion was the ground of common life. Only in the Hellenistic cities after Alexander the religious bond was really weakened, already declined in Greece – a weakening that made possible Alexander’s very exodus to the East. This ‘interval’ between ancient Greek religion and Christianity, a period irrelevant with the concept of ancient City, created the city as just a common abode.
After the christening of Hellenism the ancient city reappears transformed by the new religion. Anyone who admires the European city, needs to recognize by thinking its historical course, that this city cannot be a place where people will be united only by “social networks, economic cooperation, and friendly competition through sports and festivals”! We like it or not, European Union needs Christianity. If we deny this future for Europe, we cannot in the same time dream of and fight for an architecture that will be European, unless we are ready to abandon all contact with reality. Cf. Scruton’s books.
Roger Scruton, Modernist buildings exclude dialogue
The city, as we have inherited it from the ancient Greeks, is both an institution and a way of life, one coterminous with the civilization of Europe.
The confluence of strangers in a single place and under a single law, there to live peacefully side by side, joined by social networks, economic cooperation, and friendly competition through sports and festivals, is among the most remarkable achievements of our species, responsible for most of the great cultural, political, and religious innovations of our civilization.
Nothing is more precious in the Western heritage, therefore, than the cities of Europe, recording the triumph of civilized humanity not only in their orderly streets, majestic facades, and public monuments, but also in their smallest architectural details and the intricate play of light on their cornices and apertures.
The American who leaves the routes prescribed by the Ministries of Tourism will quickly see that Paris is miraculous in no small measure because modern architects have not been able to get their hands on it. Elsewhere, European cities are going the way of cities in America: high-rise offices in the center, surrounded first by a ring of lawless dereliction, and then by the suburbs, to which those who work in the city flee at the end of the day.
Admittedly, nothing in Europe compares with the vandalism that modernists have wreaked on Buffalo, Tampa, or Minneapolis (to take three examples of American cities that cause me particular pain). Nevertheless, the same moral disaster is beginning to afflict us—the disaster of cities in which no one wishes to live, where public spaces are vandalized and private spaces boarded up.