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On Modernity

" There is nothing past for which one may yearn, there is only an eternal newness which is shaped by the wider elements of the past and true nostalgia has always to be productive to create a new excellence."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


New Houses in Fornovo di Taro (Italy), by Pier Carlo Bontempi and Maurice Culot

True modernity is a positive acknowledgement of one's time. This does not mean a blind enthousiasm and uncritical support. It means being aware of the difference of this time to preceeding ones, without implying that the preceeding ones have to be rejected. It is the consciousness of a different sensibility and perception of time and space. It does not need to oppose continuous values and paradigms of beauty, comfort and permanence.

Modernity is thus an acute sense of originality of a particular culture in a particular moment of space and time. This contemporary originality is only meaningful in its relationship to the originality of past cultures. Modernity cannot be amnesia or deconstruction, because something cannot be measured as different, original, innovative, new, to that which is not acknowledged, or deliberately forgotten, ignored or destroyed!

Windsor Types,Merrill

Building Types, Windsor (Florida) by Merrill, Hatch and Pastor


Smith Campus Center, Pomona College, Claremont, California
by Robert A.M Stern Architects
( Photo by Peter Aaron /Esto. )

So modernity being the vibrant experience of uniqueness of any moment in history, is simultaneously the intricately bonded experience of a contemporary present with its historical memory. Consequently modernity cannot be contradictory with the contemporary practice of traditional architecture and urbanism.

Ibiza House Philippe Rotthier

Ca Na Lluca, the House of Petra and Arthur, Ibiza,
by Philippe Rotthier
Photography by Dominique Delauney (Paris)

The modern has quite often presented itself as an alarm-bell in stagnating cultures..What matters more however is the ever-present opportunity to thouroughly question the contemporary situation and its potential, and to recuperate, in the perspective of a better world, its operational knowledge, its highly sophisticated instrumentation of information and communication and its perfected logistics.


Villa Indiana by Duncan and Ruth Stroik (1992)

" The architect's goal is to reinstate the simple pleasures of villa life in a contemporary context in close proximity to an urban centre."