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View Poll Results: Has architectural modernism failed?
Yes 190 45.13%
No 231 54.87%
Voters: 421. You may not vote on this poll

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Old August 23rd, 2011, 08:41 PM   #201
kaligraffi
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@ El_Greco: Yeah, he did crazy stuff, but the point is we can't infer that Nero himself built all the new porches of Rome from the evidence provided...just as we can't infer that Nero came up with the more fire-resistant design for residential buildings from what Seutonius writes.

But the original point was that common people were able to enjoy quite sophisticated classical architecture in the era of the Roman Empire. This means that classical architecture was an important part of the lives of many common people, not just the rich few. Trying to portray non-modernist architecture styles as exclusively elitist (which is what tpe was trying to do) is false when we look at the facts.

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Originally Posted by tpe
Please read my above posts. They are easy to understand (even by you!) and are self-explanatory.
Except you never addressed my points on the issue, which means you have nothing of substance to say.

Quote:
I see that you don't know your Du Cange either? Are you really a classicist?
The only thing that matters here is that you're failing to justify your statements.

Quote:
And his statement about Nero inventing new forms is correct. Agreed?

Oh! I forgot that you don't know your Du Cange!
Where's evidence he came up with the designs?

Oh! I forgot you don't have any evidence!

Quote:
Then if yiou feel so secure about your arguments, then you would stop repeating yourself like a little child, correct?

If you are not insecure, then let your arguments stand beside mine in the previous posts, and let the readers decide.
I'd like you to respond to my points in a reasonable manner, which you seem incapable of doing.

Quote:
This comment is typical of your argument. lol

Fool! Debate with the editors of the Loeb Classical Library, and not with me.

And go read your Du Cange!
From everything you've written, your points have nothing to do with the Loeb Classical Library. They're just a product of you making stuff up because you've been proven wrong countless times.

Where does the Loeb Classical Library say that Nero came up with all the designs of his public projects?

Quote:
Finally, I quote myself again. From my previous post:
And I then pointed out that your modernism has very little to do with classical design, and that all allusions to pre-modernist architecture are pedantic and paper-thin.

You didn't respond to this, because you have nothing to say.
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 08:49 PM   #202
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Originally Posted by kaligraffi View Post
Except you never addressed my points on the issue, which means you have nothing of substance to say.


The only thing that matters here is that you're failing to justify your statements.


Where's evidence he came up with the designs?

Oh! I forgot you don't have any evidence!


I'd like you to respond to my points in a reasonable manner, which you seem incapable of doing.


From everything you've written, your points have nothing to do with the Loeb Classical Library. They're just a product of you making stuff up because you've been proven wrong countless times.

Where does the Loeb Classical Library say that Nero came up with all the designs of his public projects?


And I then pointed out that your modernism has very little to do with classical design, and that all allusions to pre-modernist architecture are pedantic and paper-thin.

You didn't respond to this, because you have nothing to say.
Ho-hum. As I said in a previous post, this is like talking down to children!

Kindly re-read all the previous posts for your answers.
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 08:56 PM   #203
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Your previous posts don't have anything of substance. Kindly address my posts in an honest manner.
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 08:59 PM   #204
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Originally Posted by kaligraffi View Post
common people were able to enjoy quite sophisticated classical architecture in the era of the Roman Empire.
No they werent. The urban poor (ie majority of Roman citizens) lived in appaling conditions, mostly in poorly constructed insulae, which were prone to fires and collapse.
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 09:01 PM   #205
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Originally Posted by kaligraffi View Post
Your previous posts don't have anything of substance. Kindly address my posts in an honest manner.
Oh silence, you little twit. This is going nowhere, so it is more fruitful to now let others now have their say.
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 09:12 PM   #206
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Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
No they werent. The urban poor (ie majority of Roman citizens) lived in appaling conditions, mostly in poorly constructed insulae, which were prone to fires and collapse.
But what of public bathhouses, ampitheatres, markets, fora and other public works? Designing important public buildings with an eye to comfort, durability and beauty is extremely important, and it's something modernists have rejected.

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Originally Posted by tpe
Oh silence, you little twit. This is going nowhere, so it is more fruitful to now let others now have their say.
I simply asked you to respond to my points honestly. I guess I asked too much of you.
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 09:18 PM   #207
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Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
No they werent. The urban poor (ie majority of Roman citizens) lived in appaling conditions, mostly in poorly constructed insulae, which were prone to fires and collapse.
Agreed.
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Old August 23rd, 2011, 09:44 PM   #208
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Originally Posted by kaligraffi View Post
with an eye to comfort, durability and beauty
The senators and Emperors didnt build for the plebs' sake, all these grand projects were simply self-glorification. Indeed mere mortals werent even allowed anywhere close to these buildings and if they were it was just to the worst parts. Public space wasnt exactly public.

You can actually still experience what the Roman city was like - simply visit North Africa. Places like Fes or Ghardaia have preserved Ancient Rome in them - narrow streets lined with tall blank buildings, while here and there stands a beautiful and grand mosque or a city gate or a madrasa. On the whole these are not beautiful cities, however with all the life and movement they are incredibly fascinating. Incidentally this is exactly where modernists got their inspiration from.

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Fes by EricP2x, on Flickr

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and it's something modernists have rejected.
Lack of decoration can be beautiful too.

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Old August 23rd, 2011, 11:11 PM   #209
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Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
You can actually still experience what the Roman city was like - simply visit North Africa. Places like Fes or Ghardaia have preserved Ancient Rome in them - narrow streets lined with tall blank buildings, while here and there stands a beautiful and grand mosque or a city gate or a madrasa. On the whole these are not beautiful cities, however with all the life and movement they are incredibly fascinating. Incidentally this is exactly where modernists got their inspiration from.
A good illustration.

And for those a bit challenged by the concept of how the majority of peoples within the Empire lived, I quote here text from a not very demanding history site -- for children! lol

Quote:
Most people living in the Roman Empire lived with their whole family in one room of a sort of apartment house. These were built, like many cheap apartment houses in the United States today, around two or three sides of a courtyard, one or two stories high. The other sides of the courtyard had high walls to keep out burglars. Today we use these courtyards for parking, but Roman people (who didn't have cars) used them for cooking, and for children to play in. The apartment houses were generally mud-brick, with flat roofs that you could sleep on in good weather.

Poor people who lived in cities sometimes had this kind of apartment, but more often had to live in taller wood or brick apartment buildings called insulae, without any courtyard.
http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/...ses/houses.htm
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Old August 24th, 2011, 01:28 AM   #210
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Originally Posted by tpe View Post
My contention is that in times past, academicians didn't define good taste, and this is true in architecture.

Whether or not the common people liked them largely didn't matter, as they didn't influence what type of buildings replaced the former. And yes, what you call the "elites" had the say, although they were really not academicians or university professors, by and large.
Who said they had to be university professors?

My point all along is that those pushing for architectural change are perhaps not the best to judge, as their opinion will be biased. Is someone who champions the modernist movement, for example, the best to judge the merits of the old and the new any better than a designer favouring minimalist home design being an arbiter of home furnishing styles? Or like my original example, would you expect an artist favouring modern art to be objective in their appreciation of all forms of art?

They may scoff at the general public's inability to see the quality of Tracey Emin exhibiting her unmade bed, but does that inability to see the artistic significance make them less able to make an aesthetic judgement?

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Which is why you really don't see such things largely intact nowadays. What you consider as "old" have been modified drastically in succeeding centuries. There are exceptions, and you will see that in the remnants of Medieval cities ouside the main squares (cathedrals and civic palaces), the architecture is plain and nondescript.
Intact, no, but they are not radically altered. Rothenburg ob der Tauber was mentioned a page back, and even if the colouring of some of the buildings is perhaps not authentic, the timber-frame medieval housing is not a "modern" reconstruction made at a later date.


Regardless, the fact is that those old city centres do look far more attractive than ones created in the early post-war decades - the era I'm suggesting modernism, on the whole, was a failure.


But you are not alone. Telly Savalas enjoys 1970s Birmingham in this clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxZ1xn2ml10


As he says, "I went up in the elevator in one of the city's tallest buildings, and this was the view that took my breath away..."






So would you say you wish more cities looked like that, or would you maybe concede that it's only breath-taking in its ugliness?



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As I said above, if you look at the domestic architecture (the parts that have not been altered), you will find them plain and nondescript.

image hosted on flickr

Medieval panno spaso by undalux, on Flickr
It's a little run-down, but still has a certain charm.

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Whether they are equal or not depends on the quality of the comparisons made.
And what kind of comparison would see Milton Keynes, Stevenage, Bracknell, Livingston etc win out as having more appeal over an old-looking town?


I mean, I grew up and have spent most of my life in a new town, so I know they get often undue criticism, but living in one also gave me a huge appreciation of what a city can be, and what these modern visions clearly aren't.
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Old August 24th, 2011, 02:00 AM   #211
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Who said they had to be university professors?

My point all along is that those pushing for architectural change are perhaps not the best to judge, as their opinion will be biased. Is someone who champions the modernist movement, for example, the best to judge the merits of the old and the new any better than a designer favouring minimalist home design being an arbiter of home furnishing styles? Or like my original example, would you expect an artist favouring modern art to be objective in their appreciation of all forms of art?

They may scoff at the general public's inability to see the quality of Tracey Emin exhibiting her unmade bed, but does that inability to see the artistic significance make them less able to make an aesthetic judgement?


Intact, no, but they are not radically altered. Rothenburg ob der Tauber was mentioned a page back, and even if the colouring of some of the buildings is perhaps not authentic, the timber-frame medieval housing is not a "modern" reconstruction made at a later date.


Regardless, the fact is that those old city centres do look far more attractive than ones created in the early post-war decades - the era I'm suggesting modernism, on the whole, was a failure.


But you are not alone. Telly Savalas enjoys 1970s Birmingham in this clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxZ1xn2ml10


As he says, "I went up in the elevator in one of the city's tallest buildings, and this was the view that took my breath away..."






So would you say you wish more cities looked like that, or would you maybe concede that it's only breath-taking in its ugliness?




It's a little run-down, but still has a certain charm.


And what kind of comparison would see Milton Keynes, Stevenage, Bracknell, Livingston etc win out as having more appeal over an old-looking town?


I mean, I grew up and have spent most of my life in a new town, so I know they get often undue criticism, but living in one also gave me a huge appreciation of what a city can be, and what these modern visions clearly aren't.
I think El_Greco's last post sufficiently approximates what I have been trying to say, in the case of ancient Roman towns. You can paint a similar picture with respect to Medieval towns, etc.

As for your initial comment, I think it is obvious by now that I love both ancient and modern architecture. I can argue for either one. What I don't abide is to narrowly denigrate one relative to the other. Both have good and bad points. But one CANNOT be narrow-minded about always seeing bad for one and good for the other.
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Old August 24th, 2011, 11:53 AM   #212
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Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
The senators and Emperors didnt build for the plebs' sake, all these grand projects were simply self-glorification. Indeed mere mortals werent even allowed anywhere close to these buildings and if they were it was just to the worst parts. Public space wasnt exactly public.
Public works were constructed for many reasons, not all of them purely self-glorification. And common people did have access to some of the grander buildings of Rome...sometimes free of charge.

The real issue that some are ignoring is that this isn't a comparison of architectural style but one of technological capacity. Pre-industrial societies could hardly provide luxurious quarters for everyone, for the ability to produce such buildings was limited. The amount of labor that went into a building like the Coliseum was far more than what it would take to build such a structure with modern methods and materials. Blaming Roman architecture for factors outside of its control is quite tertiary to the purpose of architectural analysis.

What's quite striking, though, is that in some cases the insulae of Rome were structurally superior to the modern-day shantytowns and garbage cities that "house" millions around the world. Meanwhile, today's rich and powerful build ever-higher skyscrapers to (wait for it) glorify themselves and physically demonstrate their domination over society and the common people.

The real question for us is what kind of architectural style will define the future. Will it be the cold, silent, unsatisfying architecture of modernism, or will it be a rich, complex, meaningful architecture that learns lessons from the past and applies them to the present? In short, do we turn our backs on the successes of history's architecture or do we use them to achieve comfort, durability and beauty today?

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You can actually still experience what the Roman city was like - simply visit North Africa. Places like Fes or Ghardaia have preserved Ancient Rome in them - narrow streets lined with tall blank buildings, while here and there stands a beautiful and grand mosque or a city gate or a madrasa. On the whole these are not beautiful cities, however with all the life and movement they are incredibly fascinating. Incidentally this is exactly where modernists got their inspiration from.
North African medinas are quite different from what remains at Pompeii or Ostia Antica. However, it's difficult to believe that modernists have been inspired one bit from cities like Fes. Their plans for cities do not connect communities to the street, but instead try to push them away from it. Here we see a community that healthily engages with the street, here we see one that isn't allowed to. Unsurprisingly, communities like the one in the first photo are enjoyed by local and visitor alike; the one in the second photo isn't. An even more flagrant example of modernist hatred for the city is Corbusier's criminal proposal to destroy Paris and replace it with a few mammoth apartment blocks.

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Lack of decoration can be beautiful too.
The building there lacks depth of detail, it lacks art-form, it even lacks any color at all. It might as well be a warehouse (or a fish tank on stilts). Compared to houses built with a complete architecture like the one below, I think it's understandable that the majority of people continue to be confused rather than pleased by modernist efforts.


Hotel Tassel by Victor Horta, Hosted by Wikipedia
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Old August 24th, 2011, 04:13 PM   #213
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I think El_Greco's last post sufficiently approximates what I have been trying to say, in the case of ancient Roman towns. You can paint a similar picture with respect to Medieval towns, etc.
I'm sure you can, but I don't really see the relevance. Nobody is claiming that all old buildings were wonderful. The idea that only the rich lived in nice looking houses seems a little unlikely though. Even in the UK, there are more than enough attractive old buildings in villages that would not have been homes of the rich, to show that's not true.


Besides, the point really in the old v new comparison is that it's the cheaply built with no alternative that were ugly in the past. Their style wasn't a grand vision or an archectural statement. A huge number of those ugly 50s/60s concrete boxes weren't meant to be showcasing a bold new style. The ugly tower blocks that went up were hailed as a modernist vision of the future. They weren't build that way because it was cheaper.

That's why I regard modernism of that era to be a failure. It was a nice idea that probably looked good on a render, but failed when presented with reality.

Quote:
As for your initial comment, I think it is obvious by now that I love both ancient and modern architecture. I can argue for either one. What I don't abide is to narrowly denigrate one relative to the other. Both have good and bad points. But one CANNOT be narrow-minded about always seeing bad for one and good for the other.
I agree, but my initial comment was that someone with an "academic" interest in the subject will be judging by different criteria. The idea that only those people are qualified to give an opinion is nonsense. The further point was that people who are very much into modernism will most probably sweep its failures under the carpet.

That many homes built in the 1700s actually weren't that great is neither here nor there, as nobody (well maybe Prince Charles) is suggesting cities get built to 18th century plans.
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Old August 24th, 2011, 05:00 PM   #214
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I'm sure you can, but I don't really see the relevance. Nobody is claiming that all old buildings were wonderful. The idea that only the rich lived in nice looking houses seems a little unlikely though. Even in the UK, there are more than enough attractive old buildings in villages that would not have been homes of the rich, to show that's not true.
Not unlikely, but very probable.

For every "pretty" old building you see in the UK, ask yourself how many ugly ones were destroyed or replaced by later structures or remodeled/refitted in later periods.

My point is that most of the "old" structures that have survived have not survised as-is, and even then, the survivors are NOT de-facto indicators of what the prevailing styles in buildings were like. Survival can be very selective, and as I said before, "old" is sometimes an illusion.

Quote:
Besides, the point really in the old v new comparison is that it's the cheaply built with no alternative that were ugly in the past. Their style wasn't a grand vision or an archectural statement. A huge number of those ugly 50s/60s concrete boxes weren't meant to be showcasing a bold new style. The ugly tower blocks that went up were hailed as a modernist vision of the future. They weren't build that way because it was cheaper.

That's why I regard modernism of that era to be a failure. It was a nice idea that probably looked good on a render, but failed when presented with reality.
I did mention before that in the 18th century, the leading architects, men of letters, men of taste, historians, artists, and art patrons would have said the same thing about the great Gothic cathedrals: that they were failures and as ugly as sin itself. And as I said previously, many Gothic structures were destroyed before the return to favor of the gothic style in the 19th century.

Would you now say that they were wrong? Or will you disagrere with them?

What about the common man, you will ask?

Popular opinion simply followed the leading voices of the day. And you can see the condemnation of Gothic in popular broadsheets and in popular satires of the day. The populance mocked the lovers of Gothic as hopeless "ANTIQUARIANS". It is like people today making fun of individuals who dress in out-of-fashion attire.

Do you see my point?

Quote:
I agree, but my initial comment was that someone with an "academic" interest in the subject will be judging by different criteria. The idea that only those people are qualified to give an opinion is nonsense. The further point was that people who are very much into modernism will most probably sweep its failures under the carpet.

That many homes built in the 1700s actually weren't that great is neither here nor there, as nobody (well maybe Prince Charles) is suggesting cities get built to 18th century plans.
I think there is such a thing as an well-informed opinion and an opinion that is based on a passing whim or a passing preference, or is not based on anything at all. The "eye" is a tricky thing, and without a more substantial rationale, it is meaningless.

That is why we strive to discuss such matters in a more sophisticated and more well-informed manner.
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Old August 24th, 2011, 07:23 PM   #215
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Originally Posted by Rev Stickleback View Post
Besides, the point really in the old v new comparison is that it's the cheaply built with no alternative that were ugly in the past. Their style wasn't a grand vision or an archectural statement. A huge number of those ugly 50s/60s concrete boxes weren't meant to be showcasing a bold new style. The ugly tower blocks that went up were hailed as a modernist vision of the future. They weren't build that way because it was cheaper.

That's why I regard modernism of that era to be a failure. It was a nice idea that probably looked good on a render, but failed when presented with reality.
That's the point. No doubts Modernism has failed, the real question in the title should be "why"?
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Old August 24th, 2011, 07:49 PM   #216
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That's the point. No doubts Modernism has failed, the real question in the title should be "why"?
Because (as I have said before): people believe what they like to believe... and for many of these people, knowledge and rational views are secondary.
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Old August 24th, 2011, 10:20 PM   #217
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Public works were constructed for many reasons, not all of them purely self-glorification.
Yes they were, almost exclusively so. Pleasing plebs with beauty never came into equation. Infact beauty was something of a by-product, the purpose of grand public buildings was - to assert ones authority, to advertise and celebrate ones achievements and to gain favour (ie with an Emperor). Its symbolism that mattered.

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North African medinas are quite different from what remains at Pompeii or Ostia Antica.
Grid plan of Pompeii and Ostia is the only difference. Roman urban landscape consisted of narrow streets lined with tall blank walls, while here and there stood grand building and all around was a hive of activity. Similarities are even to be found inside.

This is what a typical riad looks like, obviously size and the level of decoration differ from building to building but the idea is the same -

image hosted on flickr

Fes
by EricP2x, on Flickr

This is a typical middle-class Roman house -

image hosted on flickr

Pompeii
by EricP2x, on Flickr

Typical North African street -

image hosted on flickr

Fes
by EricP2x, on Flickr

Typical Roman street -

image hosted on flickr

Pompeii
by EricP2x, on Flickr

Note the total lack of exterior decoration and imagine this painted white (it would have been so in the old days), then tell me its nothing like modernist buildings (ie the one I posted).
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Old August 25th, 2011, 09:37 AM   #218
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Yes they were, almost exclusively so. Pleasing plebs with beauty never came into equation. Infact beauty was something of a by-product, the purpose of grand public buildings was - to assert ones authority, to advertise and celebrate ones achievements and to gain favour (ie with an Emperor). Its symbolism that mattered.
Those reasons you mention aren't purely self-glorification. In all, it was a function of that society, its power balance and all. Still, beauty was vital to the purpose of those public buildings, for it would hardly be "grand" without that aspect. Further, it would never have occurred to anyone not invested in modernist ideology to construct such an important building without giving a thought to pleasing aesthetics. This is one of the reasons that modernism has failed.

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Grid plan of Pompeii and Ostia is the only difference. Roman urban landscape consisted of narrow streets lined with tall blank walls, while here and there stood grand building and all around was a hive of activity. Similarities are even to be found inside.
The grid plan is a big difference (not to mention Pompeii's considerable open area that was its forum). Ever tried to navigate Fes? I have, and a grid plan would have been very, very welcome (especially in that summer heat ).

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This is what a typical riad looks like, obviously size and the level of decoration differ from building to building but the idea is the same -
This is a typical middle-class Roman house -
Great photos, gorgeous riad...now why can't we design new buildings employing those principles? Why do modernist interiors have all the sumptuousness of a display case when we can surely design with an eye for artistic detail? Top to bottom, that riad provides delight, light and comfortable space. The core-form of each element is accompanied appropriately by art-form, and so visual and physical depth is imparted upon the surfaces.

We can be sure that Roman houses, when they could, went for the same effect. Remember, we are talking pre-industrial society, which means the labor required to create such ornament was more then than it is now. We can't expect every house to be as luxurious as the next for this reason.

Quote:
Typical North African street -

Typical Roman street -

Note the total lack of exterior decoration and imagine this painted white (it would have been so in the old days), then tell me its nothing like modernist buildings (ie the one I posted).
OK, it's nothing like modernist buildings. There are a few reasons we have to say this. First, we could look at a complete difference in windows, at the ornamental designs on doorways and overhangs, etc. Second, the lack of ostentatious exterior decoration you mention isn't because they loved a good less-is-more building, but because if they put anything vaguely valuable hanging off the exterior, some passerby could probably have stolen it off in a few minutes.

Suffice to say that in spite of these concerns it's frankly untrue that Roman houses had a "total lack of exterior decoration". Even in the north they would put in some flourishes:


Hosted by The Guardian

Quoting the head of the reconstruction project from the article: "Colour, bling, excess – that's what they liked"

We can see even here, in a house far from the center of Roman society, decoration matters. The columns are not left blank but adorned with a color scheme that emphasizes the bottom of the shaft and the capitals, the pediment on the porch imparts visual complexity as well as demonstrating the entrance, the timbered wall is painted in a manner that makes it ornamental as well as functional.

These underlying principles: art-form with core-form, human space, visual complexity, making the functional ornamental...that is what we lost with modernism. It's about time we reclaim that legacy for the present and future.
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Old August 25th, 2011, 02:38 PM   #219
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Originally Posted by kaligraffi View Post
Suffice to say that in spite of these concerns it's frankly untrue that Roman houses had a "total lack of exterior decoration". Even in the north they would put in some flourishes:


Hosted by The Guardian
I should note here for the sake of accuracy that this picture is a reconstruction of an upper-class Roman town house in Wroxeter, theoretically reconstructed using the De Architectura of Vitruvius, which certainly does NOT accurately depict the standard dwelling of the vast majority of Roman citizens or the ordinary inhabitants of the Roman Empire.

Also, De Architectura of Vitruvius embodies an IDEAL (and not the REALITY) of Roman architecture, similar to Alberti's elucidation on an ideal classical architecture about a thousand years later.

As cited in the English Heritage site:


Thanks to an innovative TV project with Channel 4, a Roman villa urbana - a high status Roman town house – has been constructed at Wroxeter Roman City, and is now open to the public.

Channel 4's "Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day" followed a team of modern builders as they set about building the town house using traditional Roman methods.

The builders were aided in their quest by a manual on Roman building written by engineer Vitruvius 2000 years ago, and supervised by Professor Dai Morgan Evans, the project’s planner. The builders had just six months to master the skills and complete the town house.


http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/d...an-town-house/

Last edited by tpe; August 25th, 2011 at 02:43 PM.
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Old August 25th, 2011, 02:48 PM   #220
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The grid plan is a big difference (not to mention Pompeii's considerable open area that was its forum).
No its not and besides Rome itself didnt have grid plan and Fes doesnt lack open spaces either. Indeed theres loads of those.

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Ever tried to navigate Fes? I have, and a grid plan would have been very, very welcome (especially in that summer heat ).
Yes, I spent a week there in June and those are my photos, the grid plan would have been a total disaster - the purpose of narrow streets is to protect them from the heat.
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