Archive for June, 2012

castles and cloisters


The myth of the flood and Noah comes, in the Bible at least, after the retrospective utopia of Paradise. It is perhaps merely a different, narrower facet of the confrontation/ evolution of human intelligence with/from inhuman natural forces. One could see Paradise, the walled garden as a form of allegory for daytime, peace and leisure, while the Ark stands for nighttime, war and necessity. However: the hortus conclusus ultimately is a special form of Ark. In return Noah’s dark ship was also the site of temporarily paradisal coexistence between life forms that were otherwise absolute opposites.

Marte.Marte tell us they love castles and cloisters. The former are strategic places (occupation, outer control, material might, retreat, cultivation, spiritual-vertical perspective). A castle can be semantically classified as an Ark, while the cloister is comparable to the Garden of Eden, the walled garden. But both fields can converge in the case of occidental and oriental cloister/ castles, and the Anglo-Saxon saying, my home is my castle stands for nothing else.

Otto Kapfinger Excuse Me, Which Way To Paradise? IN: Marte.Marte Architects



It then became very clear to me that it was not the task of architecture to invent form. I tried to understand what the task was. I asked Peter Behrens, but he could not give me an answer. He did not ask that question … We searched in the quarries of ancient and medieval philosophy. Since we knew that it was a question of truth, we tried to find out what the truth really was. We were very delighted to find an actual definition of truth by St. Thomas Aquinas: “Adaequatio intellectus et rei” or as a modern philosopher expresses in the language of today: “Truth is the significance of fact”. I never forgot this. It was very helpful, and has been a guiding light. To find out what architecture really is took me fifty years – half a century.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1961


But we want an order that gives to each thing its proper place, and we want to give each thing what is suitable to its nature. We would do this so perfectly that the world of our creations will blossom from within. More we do not want; more we cannot do. Nothing can unlock the aim and meaning of our work better than the profound words of St. Augustine: “Beauty is the radiance of Truth.”

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, 1938


Both excerpts from: Renata Hejduk & Jim Williamson The Religious Imagination In Modern And Contemporary Architecture