Architecture as Symbol and Self-Identity by Jonathan G. Katz (Editor)

By Jonathan G. Katz (Editor)

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Sample text

There was, of course, the development of Roman architectural symbolism in medieval thought. But very early, beginning with St. Thomas, to cite only him, there was Aristotelianism. In the history of thought this represents a struggle between the logos and the nomos. Christian thought, in following St. Thomas, developed like Sunnism along Aristotelian lines which opposed the development of mythical and therefore symbolic thought. With the advent of Cartesian rationalism and later with the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we come to technology.

Now all this is covered by domes or plexiglass. All the surroundings have been expanded so that now it is a very impressive and majestic building. What was once an environment and a space has turned into a building, and there are some architectural reflections to be made from that. In the process of becoming a symbol, what confers symbolic meaning to a form? Is it formal qualities or function? Prof. Kuban suggests that we look for our answer in the realm of function rather than in the realm of form.

He illustrated this by showing how Koranic inscriptions might imply the precise meaning of a place at a particular time. Now it seems to me that there are at least three ways that one can look at inscriptions. The first is that inscriptions are simply signs with respect to the fonn in which they define themselves. They literally tell you what they are or perhaps for what they are intended. Second, they may be forms. raw Friday Mosque, dome drawn writing they may be symbolic assertions of the past and beautiful decorations in and of themselves which carry forth from past ages.

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