What are the valid, essential criteria in the field of architecture, and how can we emphasize them again? Why have we lost them?
If we want to understand how the approach that we had of this art in the past gradually gave way to a completely different, modern new approach, we must first understand through which lens the man of the past saw the world, the existence. In that sense, modern man absolutely cannot understand the vision of humans up to the 19th century, about 200 years ago. Until then, for the human being, his earthly existence was, above all, the affair of God, an essentially religious, spiritual affair. For us 21st century humans, even for those who still believe in God, this is no longer the case. Now, existence is primarily a matter of physical, material order. Before even conceiving children, the majority of human beings thinks, or at least hope to provide for their family, good material living conditions, an adequate education and fulfill a certain number of their desires, etc. Then, in the adult world, the main goal is to find a job that is adequately or even a well remunerated job, not to mention the house, cars, leisure activities…
Our existence revolves around matter, which was surprisingly enough not the case until the last century. Certainly, there were the rich and the poor, who would also have preferred to be more fortunate than destitute, but above this fact, for everyone, in the deepest sense, existence rested on something else. That was not necessarily said, perhaps precisely because it was a fact, a basic fact for everyone. The truth is that the basis of life was simply the relationship between man and God. The Earth was provided to us by God, we lived there with Him and we were not allowed to do everything as we pleased there; so we were never totally free in this sense. The highwaymen themselves were never completely devoid of “holy remorse” and all of that disappeared from this world as a naturalistic, scientific and materialistic view of life developed. For 200 years, the world, existence, is no longer a gift from God. The intellectual faculties have replaced the intuitive intelligence of the heart. At present, there is only reality that is measurable, tangible and to which one can give a market estimate, a monetary value.
Everything that has been said thus far also applies to the field of architecture. Here too, the intuitive approach has gradually been replaced by an approach based on the measurable, the ponderable, the market price. In olden times, it would have been unthinkable to build anything based on our modern criteria.
Currently, if someone wants to sell a piece of land and it borders on a village or a town, one can get a building permit and the deal is done; the buyer can then build a house there. No one would have held this reasoning in the past, as there was no need to reason. Building was a matter of intuition and of feeling based on ancestral knowledge, and in case of doubt, one could even consult those who “knew”. What did they know exactly? These people intuitively felt where to build and knew which location to avoid. It was often a question of underground currents, a matter of vibration. This could include the fact that the location in question was the target of certain winds at specific times of the year, or its exposure to the sun was not ideal, or there was stagnant water deep down in the soil. There were many reasons to weigh, but one thing was certain: all of them were true and valid.
How can we find a better way to approach this issue, and, would that be useful, important? Yes, that is important because modern man disrupts the natural order of things. He disrupts it because he no longer feels where he can build and where it is better to avoid doing so, at the risk of creating blockages, obstacles in the energy current, which animates matter, the Earth. Perhaps this is what we need to change in the first place, namely our perception of matter. Even if we cannot immediately acquire the same receptivity, the same sensitivity as that of our ancestors, this will allow us to begin to reflect on the fact that the Earth is alive, that matter is not dead and not only accept this idea, but try to put it into daily practice, in our approach, in our gestures, in our attitude. Acquiring this intuitive knowledge, which man still naturally possessed in the past, begins for modern man with a change of attitude towards matter. Why not be thankful for everything the Earth has provided for us, every day again: food, clothing, shelter, a vehicle, or our physical body! There is no shortage of opportunities, and even if this seems simplistic, unimportant, this is the unavoidable condition that can open the door to another perception matter and thus of construction, again. Because not only does the modern building disturb the natural order of things, but it also disturbs man, the being who is supposed to live or work within these walls. Modern constructions are 90% based on distorted concepts, poor positioning along with questionable materials or worst, downward hazardous materials. And the fact that we have “survived” so far does not change this truth.
(to be continued)