Surprising Guardian column of the day

Great architecture doesn\’t come cheap

In some medieval villages, half the annual budget was spent on building the parish church. Now our money goes on ourselves

So says the architecture correspondent of The Guardian, arguing that more should be spent on design, architecture and great buildings: thus giving the architecture correspondent of The Guardian something to write about and, given the likely sums involved, make the architecture correspondent of The Guardian a very important person indeed.

This is a surprise, isn\’t it?

5 comments on “Surprising Guardian column of the day

  1. a friend of mine wanted to write an economics paper to do with how in days gone by economic surplus was extracted in order to build bloody great cathedrals etc. It’s a Malthusian sort of argument – rather than productivity gains being eaten by extra offspring, they’re eaten by the church. I think it’s a great idea – how much richer would we have been if we’d spent all the manpower building roads, improving land etc.

  2. The other thing the guardian columnist hasn’t twigged to is that although half the budget was spent on architecture; the budget was so much smaller and construction so much more expensive.

    Over time construction has got cheaper and the size of the pie has expanded. To achieve medival level outcomes we’d have to spend a fraction of what they did, both in real terms and in proportion to our national budget.

    There are many explainations for the lack of good architecture nowadays — my favoured being the lack of personal aesthetic oversight by an individual stakeholder in modern construction projects, buildings are often built for committees or corporations — but lack of spending isn’t one of them.

  3. …….There are many explainations for the lack of good architecture nowadays — my favoured being the lack of personal aesthetic oversight by an individual stakeholder in modern construction projects, buildings are often built for committees or corporations — but lack of spending isn’t one of them…….

    I agree entirely. The best examples of architecture today are when vanity beats the bean counters.

  4. “…half the annual budget was spent on building the parish church…”

    Whereas now, half the annual budget (income tax plus National “Insurance” plus council tax plus VAT) is taken by the State and either pissed up against a wall somewhere or handed out to its friends to build (e.g.) windfarms.

    Not much has changed, really, has it?

  5. Can I write a Graun column on pole dancing?
    Please
    I’m sure I can make a case for money being spent on it.
    Other peoples of course.

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