Loudon’s Architectural Magazine and Public Debate

ArchitecturalMagazineLoudon1834i cover

The Architectural Magazine, and Journal of Improvement in Architecture, Building, and Furnishing, and in the Various Arts and Trades Connected Therewith was first published by John Claudius Loudon in March 1834. As its frontispiece tells us, Loudon was also the author of the Encyclopœdia of Cottage, Farm, and Villa Architecture and Furniture as well as several other educational tomes on gardening, agriculture and design. The Architectural Magazine itself came out monthly until January 1839 in issues offering c. 40-50 pages each. They are now available as five bound volumes the last of which contains an index to all volumes, indicating that they were meant to be preserved as a whole contained unit.

The Architectural Magazine’s spread was not huge; generally 1000 copies were printed with reprints of 250 more as and when needed. For comparison, the Penny Magazine had 110,000 copies per issue. The tone of the magazine is for the most part instructive; students of architecture are often directly addressed and given recommendations how to further their education. In general, the editorial policy supported a restrained Neoclassicism with formal motifs. Loudon assembled an impressive range of writers around himself, including the architects I.J. Fowler and E.B. Lamb as well as John Ruskin himself, who wrote, under the pen name ‘Kata Phusin’, on ‘The Poetry of Architecture’.

LArchitecturalMagazineLoudon1834i Apriloudon’s purpose with putting together this magazine – one of the first of its kind – was, besides supporting the education of students, to intellectualise architectural discourse. Sections such as ‘The Philosophy of Architecture popularised’, Ruskin’s ‘The Poetry of Architecture’ as well as ‘Practical Architecture and Building’, which included articles on ventilation, heating, furniture or engineering, were all intended to enable readers to partake in an informed debate about architectural questions of all sorts. This was clearly aimed at the professional architect, but also at the client as well as the general public. The Architectural Magazine became literally a storehouse (‘magazine’) for ideas and opinions but also a logbook (‘journal’) for what was being said about architecture anywhere else in the press. Readers found frequent extracts from daily newspapers such as the Morning Chronicle, but different from these news broadsheets, such extracts were usually commented upon and put in perspective. Thus arises, in The Architectural Magazine, a public debate in printed form, illustrated in places to enhance the words written by Loudon and others, and importantly always attempting to give a somewhat balanced view – within the stylists preferences which no architect or architectural writer could have avoided at this time.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: The Act of Publicity, n. | The Printed and the Built

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