Sunteți pe pagina 1din 2

Fotau Rares 25B

Classical architecture why do people love it and asperse it at


the same time?

Classical architecture is something that every one of us has experienced at least once
in his life, even if they cannot define it. It is out there, everywhere: a library, a museum, a post
office, the church you go to every week, the chances are they are built in a classical manner.
This is what its familiarity is based on: plenteousness. However, due to a lack of knowledge
in terms of architecture (I am talking here about the majority of the population), classical
architecture tends to be mistaken as the use of decoration, columns as structural elements, and
stone as main material. The problem is that more and more architecture students and even
practitioners misunderstand the classical architecture.
In his article, Robert Adam states that architects entertain three common fallacies
when condemning classical architecture. The first one is that classicism is just one style. It is
indeed a false statement, and it can be proven by emphasizing the differences between certain
styles (as in ancient Greece and Rome, renaissance, baroque, neoclassicism), all derived from
the same ancient principles. But the main mistake is much more subtle. In comparison to a
language, you can compare classicism to the syntax; it forms a set of principles that dictates
the way that different elements are put together, where the style can be compared to the
morphology. Saying that classicism is just one style is like saying that a certain dialect is a
language by itself.
The second fallacy is that classicism simply doesnt belong in the modern world.
This is as poorly founded as the first one, because the concept of a modern world is vague
and relative. The 21
th
century is for us as modern as the 4
th
century B.C. was for Plato, or the
17
th
century for Louis XIV. Classical architecture did belong to every modern world up to
this day, and it continues to do so. And the reason is merely a matter of human thinking.
People need to know they belong to something, it is a comforting feeling (and usually this
something is a collective history). Over the ages, classical architecture is what has formed
our identity, and that is why every single style has developed in relation with the ones
preceding it. James Joyce said: Classicism is not the manner of any fixed age or of any fixed
country; it is a constant state of the artistic mind. It is a temper of security and satisfaction and
patience. Robert Adam justly compares architecture to a language; it is a self-evolving entity,
which transforms and adapts to certain needs and factors, different from one period to
another.
The third fallacy is that its no longer possible to build proper classical buildings,
due to a lack of skills or the expense of decoration. The word proper is rightly stressed in
this sentence. Nowadays we still have the skills, and much more important, we have the
technology to build classical buildings. Up to a couple of centuries ago, it was indeed a
Fotau Rares 25B
collective effort, involving large amounts of money, time and hard work, for the building to
be completed. But given todays technology, a classical building should not be more
expensive than any other building. I think that the word proper is used here in a slightly
different manner. And I return to the general comprehension of the concept classical
architecture. Broadly, people see it as the style of what was, and not what will be, meaning
that it doesnt represent an interest for future styles development. We live a constant need of
renewing, both ideologically and substantially, thus the idea of assuming styles from the past
for todays programs is in a way discouraging. A stone or brick building can be beautiful
(here, can be implies that the building was designed by an architect), you like it, but it can
often give you the idea of recession. The problem is seeing a building being classic in form,
and not in substance. So I think that the reason we can no longer build proper classical
buildings is not the lack of skills or funds, but the lack of knowledge in terms of what
classic means and how it can be implemented using modern technology and materials.
Seeing the new buildings, purposely designed to amaze through unusual shapes,
makes me think that we are moving towards what is called form without substance. This is
the important lesson that classicism has to teach us.