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What is architecture has concerned not only philosophers and art historians alike, but most of us engaged in it, and still trying to figure out.

A surrealistic amalgam of art and science, better though, whatever every architect is searching for through his work, for architecture, pragmatic or not, is the product of the school of thought one ‘substance’, whenever it attains a ‘metaphysical’ quality so to say, then, by general acclaim – surprisingly regardless of socio-economic status – it qualifies as architecture.

In an artwork, art and technique should coexist. Generally, experiencing a work of art, like a painting, a musical piece, or a sculpture, you retain something subconsciously. That is what we aim to define; that is what we aim to understand (For people will be judged archeologically by their ruins, by their architecture. We hope our present civilization will not disappoint the archeologists of the future…).

The parameters of architecture are many: functional, artistic, social, psychological, environmental, economic, political… Architect Aristomenis Provelegios (1914-1999) talking of architecture would show his fingers: “These here are the humanities, history, philosophy, anthropology…”. Then, cutting them at their origin with the other hand and showing his palm “…and this is technique. The better rooted the fingers are at the palm, that is, the humanities next to the technique, the stronger [better] the resulting architecture is”. 1.

nt. Unfortunately, still prevalent amongst many is the notion that equates architecture with luxury.

Attempting a comparative approach, architecture is based on design, but of course the same holds true for the other arts, so there is an element of discord here. The complexity lies in that the design behind architecture is cerebral, diffused, romantic, but seldom realizable in its pure and unadulterated form (Architecture is first and foremost a utilitarian art). Design indeed involves a painstakingly difficult and creative process aiming to meet a goal, attempting to realize a particular vision in the wider sense, even compromising along the way, and something that is accomplished each time with varying degrees of success…

On the antipode, when the building emerges solely out of the economic parameters, architecture is relegated to a secondary plane: that which denotes the vassalage of its art (Ironically, good architecture is proven to be an excellent long term investment).

Architecture is ultimately the end product of the chemistry between the architect and his client. It is their “child” so to say. Any competent and talented architect is doomed to “fail” if his client is not cooperative, or does not have a vision (Such an association can be predicted with a high degree of certainty to fail to produce architecture; even more, it will strain irreparably human relations between them). In the end, every society has the culture it deserves…

In a conscious encounter with architecture, it will reveal its secrets. Points of departure will then emerge, capable of initiating a valid discourse; especially if the architect, as well as the users, approach it with a sense of awe.

At times the role of architecture is narrative, at times alluring, at times soothing, at times symbolic, while at times subversive… In the new era, in the age of new challenges and transformations (one parent households, greater mobility, home office, virtual office, internet, etc), what should the role of architecture be? What are the emerging trends? What are the relevant issues today in the framework of a critical architectural dialog?

So, do we still consider all “building” as architecture?

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“The aim of the architect is to go further from, here we want a door, there two windows, and to help his client discover his hidden passions… Architecture aids everyday life…”

(Claude Parent, French architect)

“Trying to bring even more joy to man’s life. This is what architecture is”.

(Aris Konstantinidis, Greek architect).

NOTES:

1. Memories of Anastasia Pepe, Architect (“Memories of his Work and the Attica Landscape”. Weekly Journal of The Technical Chamber of Greece, issue 2220, October 29, 2002, p. 18).

2. Telephone interview with Bryan Lawson, March 29, 1986. Mr. Lawson is both an architect and a psychologist. He is the author of the book “How Designers Think” (London: The Architectural Press Ltd., 1980).

You may also refer to: Vidalis, Michael A. “anti-Architecture: Architectural Monologues”. Athens: iwn publishers, 2005 (www.iwn.gr)

Michael A. Vidalis
Registered Architect – Athens, Greece
http://www.vidalisarchitects.com

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