Letnia Szkoła Księcia Walii, 1991
Oksford, Rzym i Villa Lante


In recent years we have all been led to believe that architecture is based on individual expression, novelty, originality, the over-riding principle that 'form follows function' and the apparently inescapable conclusion that modern technology is the only real solution to man's problems. We are told that the contemporary buildings must reflect the 'spirit of our age'. But for myself, I cannot escape the conviction that we have only succeeded in creating an 'age without spirit'.

I believe architects need to understand that, in order to design buildings and direct the consequent changes to our environment with sensitivity and reverence, their first need is to learn humanity and humility. They must also learn to observe the world closely and understand the extraordinarily complex inter-relation of man's built environment and the rest of the natural world. And then they must rediscover the timeless philosophies that engendered the principles of harmony and beauty that we all recognise in the great buildings of the past. In short, they should be civilised and 'civil' in their architecture, as in everything in their lives.

This is to be the second Summer School in Civil Architecture set up in response to what I believe is a widely held desire by many students to follow a course of study that reflects these more profound attitudes and that seeks to revive the delicate thread of wisdom that connects us with our forebears.

Last year more than 200 students applied for the Summer School. Sadly there was room for no more than 25. They came from all over the world and they varied greatly in their attitudes, backgrounds and experience. I was delighted by their response, their enthusiasm and their hard work. After the course was over, many of them reported that they had found it deeply inspiring and that it had changed their attitudes profoundly. I have been greatly encouraged by this and intend that the Summer School should be repeated in a similar form.

The course has been designed to extend the conventional boundaries of architectural education in two directions: on the one side towards increased fluency in drawing and the crafts of design and building; and on the other hand towards a deeper philosophical and spiritual understanding of an architect's role in society.

Everybody accepts that drawing of all types is central to the practice of architecture - both as an aid to observation and as a means of communication. But traditional freehand drawing has been sadly neglected in schools of architecture in the recent past. The course therefore includes traditional life drawing which trains the eye to see subtlety of form, to observe changes of surface under light and to grasp the principles of symmetry and proportion in nature; the study of fine buildings of the past through freehand and measured drawings; and drawing/board studies of the Classical orders following the models of accepted masters and exercises in their use.

And in parallel with these practical studies, there are lectures, seminars and discussions on the broader subjects - the role of traditional forms and patterns in architecture, the ethics of architectural practice, the confusion of current architecture thinking, the reintroduction of the values of the craftsman, the interactions between architecture and the community, the rape of the traditional fabric of the city, and so-on.

Finally, to bring together the 'practical' and the 'philosophical', there are a series of studio projects exploring various aspects of the architectural dilemma from the design and detailing of small buildings to the architecture of the street and the planning of towns.

Last year's Summer School students went out into the world with the feeling they had experienced something quite special; that a new dimension had been revealed to them, striking a chord in their hearts that I hope will never stop resonating. I hope, too, that they and their successors will recognise that the fundamentals of harmony and beauty are themselves reflections of the order of the Universe. For I believe that they will need to rediscover these great truths in order to re-civilize a world increasingly devoid of real meaning and those most precious of all commodities - faith and hope in the future.