Katarxis N2
News Page
Reconstruction of Manhattan
New York
Tradition and Modernity
On Tradition
On Modernity
On Classicism
Classical and Vernacular
Notes and Quotes
Sketches and Paintings
De Picturas
Book Reviews
More Books
Books Again
Urban Design
We Can Build It
Dwelling and Building
New Houses
More Houses
Other Projects
Smart Cities
Selected Links
Life by Architecture


Tradition and Modernity

Tradition and Modernity are not contradictory or exclusive. They are merely two different classes of things which can however interact beneficially. Tradition is still very often considered as a "thing of the past" without any contemporary legitimacy, and modernity is often mistakingly considered as modernism.
The following pages discuss the relevance and meaning of tradition in its contemporary situation.
The "contemporary", the "modern" and
the "traditional" are defined in a context of practice of "virtue" and
in the perspective of the "good life", based on the potentials of our time, and the selected wisdom of past times.


Pavilion by Duncan McCallum McRoberts

" Similar to the words that represent the irrefragable permanence of general ideas and concepts such as: time, history, progress, spirituality, love, culture or evolution-one should be reminded that the word "tradition" or "traditional" is unlikely to ever be replaced in human existence by another word to represent its universality, or its requisite conceptual ontological status, as the heritage of the continued value or evolved existence of things. It is veritable to say that, -tradition will always be. "

Duncan McCallum McRoberts


Marsham Street Competition in London.
Selected entry by Mulhern&Steil, Luxembourg
The competition brief asked for a mixed urban, traditional reconstruction on the site of an existing office highrise complex. The fact that among the 10 selected entries most were signed by new classical and traditional architects created an uproar amongst the British modernist establishment.

" Tradition by definition, is the inherited and complex evolution of things cultural, social, conventional, and institutional. The question regarding it is: which traditions live and change, and which do not."

"Let us use our intelligence, together, to define our use and understanding of the word tradition, and once again, to proceed using it proudly."

Duncan McCallum McRoberts


Belvedere Village, Ascot (England),
by Demetri Porphyrios Associates (1989)

" The Belvedere village situated on the fort Belvedere estate comprises a number of cottages, farm buildings and stables. It is set in a beautiful Surrey landscape close to Ascot. The village designed as a hamlet, unfolds around three main spaces: the farm court with it's main Barn, the residential court and the stable yard....
The buildings constructed in local brick, are in a constant dialogue with each other so that, together with the landscape, they create a sense of place establishing open vistas, perspective views or dramatic closures."

Demetri Porphyrios


Magdalen College, Oxford, England
by Demetri Porphyrios and Associates

" By Tradition I do not mean the docile transmission of some dead deposit, but rather the living repetition that manages to suggest a fresh truth. There is no such thing as a tradition that exists of its own accord. Instead, and always, tradition has to be embraced and cultivated."

Demetri Porphyrios


The Effects of Good Stewardship in the City and Country

Painting by Jason Montgomery