Anaparastáseis tou yperbatikoú
Lexilogio tes metaphysikhs ston synchrono architektoniko schediasmo
Besides the practical and functional needs of the body which must be addressed in buildings and in the wider built environment, human communities have always wished to shelter, not only themselves but also the incomprehensible, the superior and the mysterious. In this way they can, by specifying them, exorcise the danger posed by the invisible forces which define both the world outside and their inner psyche. Whether conceived as magic or as a religious system, the consciousness of a spiritual realm is not just a primitive stage of the intellectual development of humanity which then was replaced by a scientific approach which aims to create order from chaos, but is an ever-present internal need which is not satisfied by rational experience and knowledge.
Since therefore, recourse to the metaphysical is a given, the door opens for the transcendental to enter, which itself is the foundation of metaphysics. In consequence the transcendental and the feeling of respect and sacredness which it causes are an integral part of human nature and, so too, architecture finds ways not only to accommodate it, but as far as possible, to invite it in.
Modern architecture, while avowedly rejecting its relationship with the past, continues to be an art and with steady pace undertakes to accommodate the experience of the transcendental. The two authors, both architects, find that in the modern day the concepts of the sacred and the transcendental are included in the aesthetic category of 'the Sublime', which is not associated now so much with God, as with the concept of Being. The concepts thus slip into many areas of public as much as of private life. Here they dare to borrow the five principles of Longinus for successful composition and the requirement for a 'megalophrosnes apechema' (the echo of a great soul). They then parallel these principles with the creative inspiration of the architects of the 20th and 21st centuries, in their attempt to organize a vocabulary and syntax for the achievement of the sought-after 'sanctity', and as a path towards an imposing and exalted composition of space and materials.
Nikos Skoutelis is Associate Professor, Architectural design, Site, Landscape and Environment, School of Architecture, Technical University of Crete