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Walls

Most books on building construction still begin with the wall, while books on architectural design begin with the column. Guadet, whose "Eléments et Théorie" is much more practical than aesthetic, also starts off with the wall as the primal element from which all the complications of structure may be evolved. The teachers of design are no doubt by a good deal more modern than the teachers of construction, for the wall has ceased to occupy that position of eminence which it used to enjoy. Once the beginning and the end of structure, it has become as a garment spread over a structure to keep out the rain and the cold. For this purpose, at any rate, we shall always want it. The very humble position to which the wall has to-day been relegated is one from which it is not likely ever to be ejected. We must have walls to shelter us, though we no longer require that they shall sustain our buildings, a task which the column is to-day expected to fulfil. The time is bound to come, therefore, when our manuals of construction will begin with the column, and deal with that minor and quite non-structural adjunct, the wall, somewhere towards the middle of the book, if not at the end. The time will come, but before it comes the victory of science over tradition will have to be very nearly complete. To-day the two still manage to exist side by side without any manifestation of hostility, and our scientific text-books, which are daily adding many fresh adherents to the columnar persuasion, have by no means succeeded in extirpating the traditional mural school. Theatres and officeblocks may be built according to science, but our houses are still (though no one knows how long they will continue to be) built by the age-hallowed and leisurely process of laying brick upon brick which seemed to Mr. Wells of such antediluvian extravagance. Christian Barman