Katarxis N°1
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On Tradition
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On Architecture


Alessandria, Città Nuova, Piazza Perspective
by Léon Krier

"Architecture is the artistic culture of Building. As an art, it is concerned with the imitation and translation of the elements of building into symbolic language, expressing in a fixed system of symbols and analogies the origins of architecture in the laws of building. The condition of architecture to exist as a public art attains to material and above all intellectual permanence. It can be no business of architecture to express ever-changing functions or Zeitgeist. Certain building types become associated with certain functions, rituals and periods, and it is up to sculptural or pictorial iconography to help and sustain these associations."
Léon Krier 


Nahuel Huapi National Park Hotel, Argentina
( Main Elevation of  Building Complex)
by Colum Mulhern (Luxembourg)

"Architecture is only concerned with the erection of public buildings and monuments, with the construction of public squares, sites and memorials. Architecture and building are not objects of consumption but objects of use. They can only be reconstructed in a perspective of material permanence. Without such permanence, without architecture transcending the life span of its builders, no public space, no collective expression such as art is ever possible."
Léon Krier
(Quotes from Léon Krier's keynote address at the UIA XV, Cairo, 1985)


Nahuel Huapi National Park Hotel, Argentina
(Side Elevation of Building Complex)
by Colum Mulhern (Luxembourg)

The Use and Abuse of Architecture 


Town Centre Post Office, Windsor, Florida
by Scott Merrill and Georg Pastor
(Photo by Scott Merrill and Georg Pastor)

"There exists neither authoritarian nor democratic architecture.There exists only authoritarian and democratic ways of producing and using architecture.
 A row of doric columns is not more authoritarian than a tensile structure is democratic. Architecture is not political; it can only be used politically."
Léon Krier 


Schlossbrücke and Stadtschloss, Berlin (1885)
(Photo by F. Albert Schwartz)
Sammlung Märkisches Museum Berlin

"Where architecture exists it always transcends politics. Buildings can appear inhuman not through their architecture, but through their lack of architecture."
Léon Krier


Stadtschloss Berlin, View from Schinkel's 'Altes Museum' and Lustgarten (1890)
(Photo: Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz)
"Das Schloss?? Eine Ausstellung über die Mitte Berlins"
(Published by Ernst&Sohn Verlag, 1993)

"Buildings become inhuman when abstracted from architecture or dressed in false architecture. Kitsch is both abstraction and false appearance. There is neither reactionary nor revolutionary architecture."
Léon Krier


Lustgarten, Marx-Engels Platz, View from 'Altes Museum', Berlin (1992)
(Photo: Private Collection Wilhelm von Boddien)
"Berlin?? Eine Ausstellung über die Mitte Berlins"
(Published by Ernst&Sohn Verlag, 1993)

"There is only architecture or its absence, that is: its abstraction.
There has never been protest against architecture. There has only been protest against lack of architecture."
Léon Krier
(Quotes from Léon Krier's keynote address at the UIA XV, Cairo (1985)


 Aerial View with Stadtschloss and Dom, Berlin (1930)
(Photo: Sammlung Eickemeyer, Berlin)

The Stadtschloss of Berlin organized substantially the urban cohesion of the city's historic "Mitte" and offered an elegant and historically dense building ensemble of great architectural and sculptural refinement. It was one of the few monuments which survived the Second World War with relatively minor damage. The head of the DDR regime Walter Ulbrich ordered it to be dismantled in 1950. The Stadtschloss ensemble was blown up piece by piece  in a systematic and destructive fury over several months'! It was supposedly too much a dominant symbol of the 'Old Germany'!
A growing popular pressure in favor of a historical reconstruction of the Berliner Stadtschloss has developed during the last years...The unfatiguable Wilhelm von Boddien and the 'Historische Gesellschaft Berlin' have provided both the economical, functional, cultural and urbanistic evidences for an integral reconstruction process and contemporary efficiency within the context of a reconstructed centre of a reunified Berlin and Capital of a reunified Germany. 


Stadtschloss in Berlin
(Photo by  Gesellschaft Historisches  Berlin)

"The 'Gesellschaft Historisches Berlin' is committed to preserve, to complete and to eventually renovate in a traditional manner the centre of Berlin and its historic neighbourhoods. The society encompasses these objectives by cultivating the history of Berlin, particularly its architectural history and is decided to take influence in this context.
By means of exhibitions, lectures, discussions, seminars, guided tours as well as publications, the society educates on history, history of architecture and the urbanistic development of Berlin, with a particular focus on popular education.
The Gesellschaft Historisches Berlin interacts with the political authorities of the city and aims at empowering citizens' input in the context of its objectives"
Gesellschaft Historisches Berlin

Gesellschaft Historisches Berlin


Berlin in 1939
(Photo by Gesellschaft Historisches Berlin)

"We can look at architecture in two ways: as a piece of technology, a "machine for living"; or as just one part of many things that go to make up a society. If we look at architecture as one of the pieces of the huge jigsaw that makes up a society, it must be bound up with the history, activities and symbols peculiar to that society - in other words its customs and traditions. Once you accept that architecture is a part of the unique identity of a society or community, you have to accept that it is a part of the traditions of that community." 
Robert Adam
"Tradition and Architecture"
(INTBAU launching conference, January 2002)


Public Housing in Al-Esch, Corner Building on Square (1986)
by Lucien Steil with Herr &Huyberechts, Luxembourg
(Drawing by Herr & Huyberechts)

The Reconstruction of  Al-Esch


New Piazza in Al-Esch, Esch-sur-Alzette (1980)
by Lucien Steil

The whole historic city centre of Esch-sur-Alzette (a 25.000 inhabitants) was declared renovation (tabula rasa) area for a modernist reconstruction end of 70s. The counter-project and polemics of Lucien Steil declared this very threatened historic city centre as the paradigm of reconstruction. Both public pressure and a municipal financial crisis led to a traditional masterplan  for a mixed-use urban reconstruction including a substantial percentage of public housing.   


The roofs of Al-Esch, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
(Photo by Antoinette Lorang)


Operation Esch-Centre, Project II (1966)
by Group Tetra, Luxembourg


Project Urb-Esch, Central Piazza  (1960)
by Association of Architects and Municipality


Sketchbook Study for a Piazza (1981)
by Lucien Steil

An Alternative Project: The City


 Reconstruction of Al-Esch, Axionometry of Central Piazza (1979)
by Lucien Steil

"The project proposition is based on a radical choice in favour of the traditional city: the neighbourhood, the block, the square, the piazza, the street, etc.. These time-tested elements of the historic European city can restore a viable structure and a vital urbanity in damaged and destroyed urban and suburban contexts!"


Reconstruction of Al-Esch, Central Piazza (1983)
by Lucien Steil


Reconstruction of Al-Esch, Axionometric Piazza Study (1980)
by Lucien Steil


Historic Center of Esch, Reconstruction Proposal (1983)
by Lucien Steil


Reconstruction of Al-Esch, Central City Area
by Lucien Steil

"The complexity of functions, the precision of the urban spaces and particularly the revalorization of public space (as an alternative to the introverted and alienating tyranny of privacy of suburbia) will be instrumental in the necessary revitalization of social and civic life, the redevelopment of urban freedom and autonomy, the emancipation of real citizenship in the renaissance of the traditional urban neighbourhood!"
Lucien Steil

Léon Krier was substantially supporting and influencing with very insightful design consultancy  the "Project for the Reconstruction of Al-Esch"  by Lucien Steil.