Saint Malo, Rue Porcon

Notice the slight jog in the street at the intersection, and the way the street beyond is narrower than the street in the foreground. Although narrow, this street is able to support a large volume of foot traffic, in the absence, of course, of cars.

I found a contemporary photograph of this street on the Internet and was disappointed to see that a considerable width of the street has been given over to parking, although that part of the street is a meter or so wider than the section shown here. The street also appears to have been renovated, and with sensitivity.

Notice that the building on the right has arches above the windows. This looks right to the eye because it is also right structurally - the arch is a strong element of construction that is well suited to masonry because there are no tensile loads created - everything is in compression. I think we know this almost instinctively and are subtly troubled by straight lintels, unless they are of wood, which we know from experience to bear bending loads well.

Too much of modern building construction is done because it is possible, not because it is a good idea. Many of the structures built by Dutch architects in the 1920s and 30s include brick used in tension, and it soon requires major and costly repairs. Arrogance is a dangerous quality in an architect, and one that is all too common. Le Corbusier must have been about the most arrogant man who ever lived.

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