Carlisle Cathedral Fratry review – poised and intelligent

It may draw flak from both modernists and traditionalists, but Carlisle Cathedral’s Fratry hall, rebuilt by Feilden Fowles, is well crafted and respectful of its past For at least two centuries, architecture has been riven by style wars: gothic against classical, one kind of gothic against another, modernist against historicist, postmodern against modern – feuds with the internecine venom of religious sects. John Ruskin, for example, was an arch style warrior: “An ugly soot from the smoke of the pit… the sickly phantoms and mockeries of things that were,” he called the kind of gothic he didn’t like. Yet, in any sane view, architecture has always come in multiple shapes. Square or pointy or curvy, ornate or plain, machine-made or hand-crafted, orderly or free form – it doesn’t really matter so long as it’s good. Such wars, to the extent that followers of Prince Charles and Donald Trump promote neoclassicism as the one true architecture, are still going on, but the more pernickety battles, the ones that might once have impaled your career for using the wrong kind of crocket, have receded. So a project such as the Fratry at Carlisle Cathedral, whose pointed arches would have roused accusations of heresy from modernists and of impurity from traditionalists, now comes across as a work of sweet and slightly playful reason. Ruskin would have hated it – for the use of industrial processes and the fact that the arches are purely ornamental Continue reading...

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