From Notes for a textbook on architecture c1830

After peace was reestablished in Europe following the exile of Napoleon, Schinkel returned to architectural practice with a high position in Prussian state service and began his illustrious career. His principal theoretical concern remained always style, or more specifically, how to create a new style in keeping with the ambitious ideals of an expanding Prussian statehood. The Romanticism of his early period, which initially inclined toward the Gothic style, gave way in the late 1810s to a stripped-down classicism, as seen in his Berlin Guardhouse

Karl Friedrich Schinkel, from Notes for a textbook on architecture (c.1830), trans. Harry Francis Mallgrave from Das architekonische Lehrbuch, ed. Goerd Peschken. Berlin: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 1979, pp. 114-15.

(1816-18) and Berlin Playhouse (1818-21). The 1820s also saw further experimentation with elements of the Italian vernacular and most importantly with his efforts to design buildings with no stylistic reminiscences whatsoever. At the same time Schinkel was much concerned with composing a textbook for architectural students, and throughout the 1820s it took the form of a comparative morphology of structural solutions and building forms. The following passage, probably penned around 1830, gives voice to this concern with construction during this phase of his development, but also in his desire to expand his conception of architecture beyond it.

Every work of art, of whatever kind, must always bring a new and living element into the world of art. Without this genuine element, the artist cannot have true and necessary tension, nor does the work of art offer the public an advantage, to the world in general a gift. This is the moral value of a work of art from which the individual soul of the artist speaks, and to be sure in such a distinctly characteristic manner that no other kind of expression can display it. [... ]

In architecture the artist needs above all a general education. It is not that he should carry around in his head an excess of idle knowledge and on its basis take every occasion to instruct with a professorial language, or excel with a positive knowledge of the existing, or discuss what exists in terms of philosophical concepts, abstractions, and syntheses. But rather, his spirit must be so imbued with the essence of the classical period that his activity, which can only be directed to the new conditions within the new circumstances, may freely proceed in the spirit of those classical times and, with an unimpeded cadence, bring forth the correct, the beautiful, and the characteristic from among the new and transformed conditions.

In order to catch a foothold in the broad field of architecture of our time - where the confusion or the total lack of principles had increased with regard to style, as useful criticism becomes very difficult because of the endless number of buildings that have arisen in the various epochs of the world - I will speak the following basic principle:

Architecture is construction.

In architecture everything must be true, and any masking or concealing of the construction is an error. The real task here is to make every part of the construction beautiful within its character.

In the word "beautiful" resides the whole story, the whole nature, and the whole feeling for conditions. In itself it expresses, in short, everything of trivial purposiveness [Zweckmassigkeit], which at the same time it may never lack, even when it can be invested with greater or lesser insight.

The second basic principle for architecture with style leads me to the following consideration:

Every perfect construction in a specific material has its own very distinct character, and cannot be rationally carried out in the same way in another material. This individual separation of one material from the other forbids any complete mixing of different materials during construction, wherever one material, the internally complete and perfect, shames the other. Even the simplicity of the viewer's conception would get lost.

In architecture with style, therefore, every construction produced in a specific material must be complete in itself and whole. It may exist beside or above something else, but may not mix with it; it remains self-sufficient in itself and displays its full character.

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