Architecture as a time machine

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Buildings that hide age and emphasize its antique ideals, which occur to be non-ideal, and other ways to confuse people

The message of time is an important social commitment of architecture: there are buildings, which testify the time of creation with an accuracy to several years, as, for instance, the Art Nouveau buildings. There are skyscrapers by Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe at the end of the 1940s - 1950s, which look modern even in 2017. 

The message of time can be the political and ideological context. For example, triumphal arches from the project of the middle 1930-s for Leningrad, for its proportions and effects “grown in the ground”, look the same as antique things and try to convey that the Soviet power - is the beginning of time. 

Architects themselves feel time in different ways: A.Palladio in the 16th century perceives antiquity as modernity and interleaves antique buildings to be his own, thus shortening the historical distance. Neo-classicist Giovanni Battista Piranesi in the 18th century pushes antiquity into the past, where it becomes incomprehensible and infinitely divorced from the surrounding ideal reality. 

A sense of history is strongly associated with an issue of authenticity. Over the past century and a half, there have been serious changes which can be clearly seen in the ideology of architectural restoration. In the 19th century, a French architect, historian and restorer Viola-le-Duc believed that restoration means to lead a building to an ideal and finished condition. In result, we see the samples of Middle age architecture in Europe, cleared to the conditions they have never been before. Humanity needed two World Wars to evaluate the importance of historical evidence, which brings authentic stones. In the 1960s, the Venice Charter emerged, which forms a new attitude towards the restoration and emphasizes the necessity for a viewer to distinguish the authenticity finishes, and where the replica begins. 

Modernism created architecture out of time and history. But, even the Stalin neoclassicism is also an abstract phenomena. It’s a clear imitation and art which  has nothing to do with “authentic stones”. It replaces our own personal history with collective images, severed from the reality of the past: the Soviet city in the middle of the 20th century is an architecture that claims the beginning of a new history.

Author: Karina N. 

CultureKarina Nguyen