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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
V 1990 - 2002
Dedication - to W.M Dudok

Later on at the School of Architecture after my infatuation with the archdeacons of the Modern Movement of Architecture; Walter Gropious, Mies van der Rohar and Le Corbusier had somewhat waned, I eventually discovered an other personal hero; though I am sure unlike Joyce he would have detested being called that.  He was you might say, the other side of the coin which has been a talisman that I have kept close to me throughout all the years that I have been working in my profession.  In my book I write about my meeting with him; it must suffice here to repeat only some few words about him and of my debt to him.  His architecture and his personality revealed another route that I should take.  His name is W. M. Dudok; a Dutchman, who spent almost his entire professional life in and around the town of Hilversume, the town in which he held for many years the post of city architect and where he built some of his most beautiful buildings.   Dudock and his work exemplified for me not only artistic authenticity, but also the essentially social role of the architect and his ethical responsibilities for the well being of people in all its physical and spiritual manifestations.  For Dudok the path to his professional goal was through a sincere humility towards his public, not one I dare say, that James Joyce would have been particularly enthusiastic-  bless him.  It seems that I could not have found two more diametrically opposite personalities to admire.  Aristotle has characterized metaphor as "the intuitive perception of the similarity of dissimilars".  For me, literature and architecture have been such a symbiotic metaphor, and it is in this fashion that I have resolved the apparent disparate natures of these two fine artists; each in their own very different mediums, were supreme humanists.  

   Dudok wrote relatively little about his work during his career, but on his eightieth birthday, in reply to the warm greetings which he had received from the President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, he replied in an extraordinary letter of thanks, with an inimitable command of the English language.  It is an extraordinary document, because within a single page he wrote, in my opinion, almost all that is necessary to know about being an architect.  I have quoted from it before, throughout my text, but now I quote it in its entirety, as I could think of no better way to sum up the values which I myself have endeavoured to pursue throughout my own architectural career. Dudock, In the evening of his life unconsciously composed this paean to the Art of Architecture and the role of the Architect: himself in society.;- 

"My architectural philosophy, if at least you are willing to give this name to my simple meditations, has not changed, perhaps it has deepened in the course of the years. 

    Just as the human mind derives beauty from rhythm and sound in poetry and music, it also recognizes beauty in proportions of spaces in architecture.  Building only becomes art when it is sublimated by space proportions, which ingeniously express the character of the building



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