Katarxis N°1
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The Parthenon, Athens  (447 B.C-436 B.C)
by Callicrates and Ictinus
(Photo by Mary Ann Sullivan)

"In 480 B.C., the Persians took the Acropolis and burned both temples, the Parthenon under construction as usual...."
Vincent Scully


View of Acropolis, Athens
(Photo by Mary Ann Sullivan)

"After the war, the Greek states agreed to leave all the shrines destroyed by the Persians in ruins as a fitting memorial to impiety, but a generation later Pericles unilaterally set the treaty aside, and his new campaign of building was begun."
Vincent Scully


The Acropolis of Athens
Reconstruction by d'Espouy
(Geschichte der Baukunst, Dr. D. Josef, Leipzig, 1912)

"Therefore, as the contemporary Temple of Hera at Paestum, for example, stands heavily locked into the plain, as solid and permanent as the mother who shelters us, so the Parthenon rises, turning on its height, the embodiment of a collective will impossible for us to fix or dominate with our individual minds, asserting the victory of the city of Athens over everything."
Vincent Scully
"Architecture, The Natural and The Manmade"
(Published by St. Martin's Press, New York) 


Erechtheion, Acropolis of Athens (421-406 B.C.)
Reconstruction by Bühlmann
(Geschichte der Baukunst, Dr. D. Josef, Leipzig, 1912)

Architecture, Memory, Commemoration 


Battery Park City Pavilion, New York
by Demetri Porphyrios Associates

Commemoration is not about remembering acutely and relentlessly destruction, terror, fear, etc. but about overcoming these moments of unbearable pain by  moral and material acts of reconstruction -- reconstruction of the integrity and dignity of human existence, --reconstruction of homes and monuments, cities, towns and villages as the unalienable expressions of permanence and of a transcendant continuity of civility, urbanity and community..  


Public Space and Monument in Lisbon
(Photo by Lucien Steil)

 Neither the immensity of emergence, chaos and panick, nor the following reactions of despair, anger, helplessness, fear, etc. can generate more than fragmented and painful records of events where reason and humanity have temporarily abandoned the world to the unchained forces of evil.
Commemoration is infact the result of a healing process and probably it is the healing itself, a healing allowing to reorder the world and reassess the meaning of human existence within its historical and cultural dimension, within its political and geographical boundaries, within the dialectics of the individual and the community.     


Place du Marché, Liège, Belgium
(Postcard from Joel Crawford's Archives)

Commemoration consacrates the reconstruction of memory of dramatic, tragical, heroic or mythic events by rituals, signs, places and monuments of collective and civic importance.It translates the momentary shock  - caused by the brutal and sudden irruption of death, destruction, terror and horror - into durable acts of reconstruction, - reconstruction of a community's identity, its historical continuity, its moral and civic cohesion, its faith into unalienable ideals of human civilization.  


Ichan-Kalan Conservation, Khiva, Uzbekistan
Kalta Minar
by The Uzbek Institute of Restoration (1975)
(Photo by Reha Gunay)
Courtesy of The Aga Khan Award for Architecture


Campo de' Fiori with Statue of Giordano Bruno, Rome
(Photo by Massimo Cirilli)

"We can live without her, we can adore without her,
 but without her we cannot remember."
John Ruskin 


Piazza Colonna, Rome
(Postcard View from Joel Crawford's Archives)

This sublimation of the experience of death and destruction into symbols of life, continuity and permanence is the paradoxical purpose of commemoration. It is a necessary condition of any cultural endeavour of humanity...
The particular tasks of architecture and urbanism consist  in safeguarding the familiarity and identification of places and monuments as permanent locations of collective memory and in providing the appropriate civic settings for acts of commemoration.
 Not only  monuments, sanctuaries, and commemorative piazzas and gardens should be considered in this context, but the city as a whole should be encompassed as an integral part of a commemorative endeavour. Indeed  the city is the highest form of commemoration of human communities as a material and moral synthesis of their history and the most perfect testimony of collective memory.    


Bukhara Old City Restoration
The Mir-I-Arab Madrasa and Surrounding City Fabric
by The Uzbek Institute of Restoration (1975)
(Photo by Reha Gunay)
Courtesy of The Aga Khan Award for Architecture


Cloister of the Cathedral, Viseu, Portugal
(Photo by Edição Gotica, Porto)

".....civic and domestic structures infact,
 achieve true perfection
 by becoming commemorative."
John Ruskin


The Roofs of San Marco, Venice
(Photo by Joel Crawford)


Restoration of Dar Al Hajjar, Sana'a, Yemen (1997)
by Abdullah Hadrami, Architect
(Photo by Monica Fritz)
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Traditional pre-Islamic adobe structure built in the 17th century as the summer residence of Imam Yahya. It was renovated in the 1930's and again carefully restored in 1997 to be used as a tourist and cultural site.

Commemoration and Memory 


Square in Patmos (1979)
Painting by Rita Wolff

"The ambition of the old Babel builders was well directed for this world: there are but two strong conquerors of the forgetfulness of men, Poetry and Architecture; and the latter in some sort includes the former, and is mightier in its reality: it is well to have, not only what men have thought and felt, but what their hands have handled, and their strength wrought, and their eyes beheld, all the days of their life."
John Ruskin
"The Seven Lamps of Architecture"


Piazza in Viseu, Portugal
(Photo from  New School of Viseu Archives)
Universidade Catolica Portuguesa


Plazoleta San José, Monument to Juan Ponce de León
San Juan, Puerto Rico
(Postcard by Fisa-Escudo de Oro, Barcelona)


Piazza in San Juan, Puerto-Rico
(Photo by Lucien Steil)