This year’s Oundle Lecture on “The Rules and Manners of Good Buildings” was presented by Professor Maxwell Hutchinson (D 1966) to an audience of Governors, staff, parents, Old Oundelians and Lower Sixth Form pupils.
Professor Hutchinson is a regular television and radio broadcaster, and is the best-known broadcasting architect in the UK, appreciated for his ability to effectively communicate both his erudition and enthusiasm for our built environment.
He commented on how we are educated to appreciate music and literature, but not taught how to appreciate or understand buildings, which have such a profound aesthetic and practical impact on the everyday life of citizens. “We make our buildings, and our buildings make us,” he said.
In a brief masterclass he outlined the features of a building and the criteria by which to judge it. A starting point is to consider how it meets the sky, how it meets the ground, and what happens in between. The three classical orders remain an enduring measure of the characteristics of design, while the timeless principles of the Roman architect, Vitruvius, are the foundations for the success of a building: strength, functionality, beauty.
While teasing pupils with necessary additions to their vocabulary, such as sciagraphy and entasis, he earnestly exhorted Oundle’s pupils to look up and down our streetscapes and appreciate the harmony, charm and complexity of the environment they are so fortunate to live amidst.