When Morality and Architecture was first published in 1977, it received passionate praise and equally passionate criticism. An editorial in Apollo, entitled "The Time Bomb," claimed that "it deserved to become a set book in art school and University art history departments," and the Times Literary Supplement savaged it as an example of "that kind of vindictiveness of which only Christians seem capable."
In writing his groundbreaking polemic, David Watkin had the temerity to take on the entire modernist architectural establishment, then at the height of its power, throwing up brutal buildings in the hearts of our communities. Watkin showed how such an approach was rooted in a long theoretical tradition stretching back to Pugin, Viollet-le-Duc and Corbusier who claimed that their chosen style has to be truthful and rational, reflecting the needs of contemporary society. Any critic of such ethical, mechanical and populist fallacies was labeled antisocial and immoral. The book rapidly became a cult text, Here for the first time, is the story of its impact. Only covertly did Karl Popper and Ernst Gombrich, and the giants of the architectural establishement-men like John Summerson, Denys Lasdun and Ove Arup-support the author. Watkin goes on to give an overview of what has happened since and summarized the situation today, arguing that many of the old fallacies still persist. This return to the attack is a revelation for anyone concerned with the past, current, and future direction of architecture.