archives

The Lacedaemonians under the leadership of Pausanias, son of Agesipolis, after conquering the Persian armies, infinite in number, with a small force at the battle of Plataea, celebrated a glorious triumph with the spoils and booty, and with the money obtained from the sale thereof built the Persian Porch, to be a monument to the renown and valour of the people and a trophy of victory for posterity. And there they set effigies of the prisoners arrayed in barbarian costume and holding up the roof, their pride punished by this deserved affront, that enemies might tremble for fear of the effect of their courage, and that their own people, looking upon this example of their valour and encouraged by the glory of it, might be ready to defend their independence. So from that time on, many have put up statues of Persians supporting entablatures and their ornaments, and thus from that motive have greatly enriched the diversity of their works. There are other stories of the same kind which architects ought to know.

 

   Vitruvius, The Ten Books on Architecture, translated by Morris Hicky Morgan

The illustration The city as an accumulation of narratives is exhibited at the Maximilianforum in Münich as part of the Prinzip Hoffnung show.

 

''Our aim is to tackle the topic of the semantics. The ability of buildings to carry a narrative (or narratives), and the city becoming an accumulation of stories.

 

A fascination was the illustrative plates of the encyclopedia during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The studied subject would not only be drawn with scientific precision, but would be arranged in such a way and surrounded by objects that would make them enter into different narratives. In this way, the subject is not only described in its physically objective reality but also in its role into the traditions the myths and the tales. Until the end of the first world war, it was a given that any item would carry a greater meaning than its function. Such a vision applied to architecture, where each of its elements, from the main columns and architraves to the door handles, had a semantic layer at the core of its design.

 

Today, with the development of techno-science, brought to architecture through such mottos as ''form follows function’’ and the loss of the craftsmanship, semantics appear as mere ornaments and have mostly disappeared from the city fabric. The first image, linked to a small extract of the Ten Books of Architecture by Vitruvius, questions the place of the human in the contemporary urban space, an architecture composed of ‘’catalogue elements’’, devoid of any semantic layer.''

 

Anna MacIver-Ek and Axel Chevroulet