Katarxis N°1
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On Originality


Ertegün House, Bodrum, Turkey (1973)
by Turgut Cansever
(Photo by Christopher Little)
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Tradition and Originality


Henbury Rotonda
by Julian Bicknell

Why should we resign from claiming the legitimate right of using concepts like originality, inventiveness and creativity? It appears that the practice of traditional architecture benefits of the most impressive sum, not only of historical evidence, but of contemporary demonstration of impressive originality and inspired creativity! The quantity and quality of contemporary traditional architecture and urbanism is overwhelming and reassuring. This will necessarily influence in a decisive manner the ways of thinking, of building and of teaching architecture and urbanism.   


Villa Rotonda, Vicenza
by Andrea Palladio
(Photo by Mary Ann Sullivan)

The quest for originality has often been criticized as a futile modernist frivolity. Infact originality is often considered as the search of ostentative novelty, provocative otherness and weird randomness.
However it seems appropriate to question: 1) - the reductive interpretation of originality, 2) - its monopolistic abuse by modernist critics and artists, 3) - the rejection of originality by contemporary traditional architects and urbanists.
Infact we should acknowledge again the 'original' sense of originality which consists in re-assessing the foundation of something in its origin. Originality would thus be the very essence of the creative polarity of tradition and nature...Rather than investigating the boundaries of speculative catastrophies, originality encompasses the continuous reactualization of original types and patterns in human creation.


Henbury Rotonda
by Julian Bicknell

"The first step we have to make is to examine, if we are allowed the term, the genealogy and relation of our ideas, the causes that have given rise to them, and the characteristics that distinguish them: in a word, to return to the origin and generation of our knowledge."
"Discours Préliminaire" to the "Encyclopédie"


Can Jordi, Formentera, Spain (1992-1993)
by Philippe Rotthier and Laurence Prevedello
(Photography by Philippe de Gobert)
"Arquitecturas - Ibiza"
(A.A.M. Editions Bruxelles)

Origin and Originals


 Garden Pavilion by Quinlan Terry
(Picture from A.D. Profile: "Quinlan Terry")
The 'Little Rustic Hut' which Abbé Laugier consacrated as the exclusive Protype of Architecture and which Quatremère de Quincy discussed as the 'Cabane Symbolique' or 'Allegorical Prototype' representing Architecture's origin in timber construction.


Betsimisaraca, Village in Madagascar
Houses on 'Pilotis' with Exterior Portico
(Photo from Photothèque, Musée de l'Homme, Paris)
 "Primitive Architecture" by Enrico Guidoni
(Copyright Electa, Milano 1979)

"Architecture (Arche-tectonike) means literally 'Form of Origin'. - If this definition is relevant for the architecture of any organism and structure, it is fundamental for Architecture as the Art of Building. It is not that the principles of Architecture reach into an immemorial past, that but their origin is forever present."
Léon Krier
(AD Profile: "Houses, Palaces, Cities")


House in Sri Lanka
by Geoffrey Bawa
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture

"Origin here means that from and by which something is what it is and as it is. What something is, as it is, we call it essence or nature. The origin of something is the source of its nature."
Martin Heidegger
"Poetry, Language, Thought"


Pavilions at Highgate, London (1981)
by Demetri Porphyrios
(Photo by Demetri Porphyrios)

"The distance between a new work and the model that has inspired it  is indeed always the hallmark of creative talent, pointing out the contemporaneity of the work.
 An artist is said to be original exactly when he takes up the challenge of tradition and makes us see something more than we already know.
 Originality, and thus the modern itself, consists in this distance between the new and the model as the new emplots itself within tradition." 
Demetri Porphyrios
"Classical Architecture"
(Andreas Papadakis Publisher) 


Barn in Belvedere Village, Ascot, England
by Demetri Porphyrios Associates
(Photo by Demetri Porphyrios)


Hebil Bay Stone Houses, Turkey (1997)
by Oguz M. Öztuzcu
(Photo by Draman Yauvuz)
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture

"Originals are forms which most truly reflect the forms of origin.
These forms are not literal replications of early historical forms, but evocations, - in new inventions, of the ideas which generated these historical forms.
Originals become like the timeless paradigms of the everpresent essence of original forms. They themselves become objects of imitation. 

Invention is never  an ex nihilo creation, but a recreation, or reconstruction of the original creation by means of the imitation of nature. By reviving origin through originals, imitation constitutes the basis of inventive creation and of perfect originality.
The essence of architectural creation is about the invention of originals through the imitative genius."