Tradition & Innovation (history of architecture)

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Tradition & A ; Innovation ( history of architecture )

Much great architecture of the yesteryear has proceeded by polishing rigorous conventions without truly oppugning them. A much smaller organic structure of work has moved frontward through extremist invention. Use illustrations to demo ( among other things ) that what appears to be radicalism or preservation is non ever what it seems. You could follow a sequence in one topographic point ( such as Brunelleshi ‘s Florence or Pericles ‘ Athens ) or run more widely pulling trial instances from assorted times and topographic points.

The Athenian Parthenon has captured the imaginativeness for about two and half thousand old ages. Writers frequently speak of it as the finest architectural accomplishment of the Greeks, incarnating the classical values of harmoniousness and restraint, composure, pose and repose, proportion and economic system ( eg Sowerby 1995, 168 ) . However, the Parthenon is simply one of legion edifices completed as portion of the alleged Periclean edifice programme of the 2nd half of the 5th century BC, which can be examined for the manner their designers made usage of tradition and invention. Other edifices, such as the hypostyle Periclean Odeion that owes much to non-Greek Iranian traditions, likely due to their province of saving and less appealing scene, have tended to be sidelined in treatments of this nature, but are of import however. This essay will first discuss invention and tradition in the development the Grecian temple from its beginnings to the mid-fifth century BC and so research invention and tradition in the Periclean edifice programme itself, associating these to the wider context of Grecian temple architecture.

For the Greeks, architecture was a term reserved for public and sacred edifices as opposed to private and domestic buildings ( Whitley 2001, 279 ) . Of these public and sacred edifices, the temple is possibly the most well-known and characteristic signifier, which besides incorporated into their programme sculpture, painting and composing ( Richter 1987, 19 ) . Temples possibly developed from the Mycenaean megaron, a rectangular edifice with a columned porch that formed the cardinal edifice of Late Bronze Age castles ( see program in Stierlin 2001, 34 ) but their beginning in early apsidal edifices, such as that of Lefkandi seems more assured ( see program in Johnston 1993, 25 ) . The architectural significance of these edifices is that they make usage of the colonnade, making an outer portico around the cella ( the inside edifice ) and can therefore be described as peristyle or peripteral ( of a temple ) . Presumably this development occurred from the practical concern of roofing these big edifices, which besides used an axial colonnade for support, but was retained, going possibly the specifying feature of Grecian temples, surely still seeable in those of much later periods including the Periclean Parthenon. The reversible roof besides led to the creative activity of a pediment, the triangular infinite or gable formed by the roof above the entryway that would be used to border architectural sculpture. An early illustration of such a adorned pediment from the early 6th century BC is from the temple of Artemis on Corfu ( Johnston 1993, 47-48 ) . It is interesting that, for whatever ground, the apsis was non retained in ulterior edifices and alternatively an opisthodomos ( an unfastened room at the dorsum of the temple, sometimes used as a exchequer ) was sometimes present ( for a temple groundplan see Richter 1987, 22 ) . These alterations in layout are shown by the sequence of temples at Thermon between the 9th and late 7th centuries BC ( see program in Stierlin 2001, 42 ) . Thus the development of the temple signifier was one in which tradition and invention can be seen from the beginning.

The earlier edifices were non the great marble buildings of ulterior times but were constructed of wood with thatched roofs ( Stierlin 2001, 44 ) . Over clip rock and tile came to replace wood ; sometimes instead than strike harding down a temple and get downing from abrasion, wooden columns would be replaced in situ by rock columns in a procedure known as petrifaction ( Stierlin 2001, 46 ) . The ancient Greek tourer and author Pausanias ( 5.16.1 ) vividly described an ancient oak pillar still in topographic point in the rock temple of Hera at Olympia. Columns of assorted diameters made up of different Numberss of column membranophones can still be seen at this temple, attesting to the ad hoc nature of the temple’s transmutation. Replacing wood with rock besides led to the petrifying in rock of some of the noteworthy architectural characteristics of the wooden temples – fluted columns, triglyphs, dentils, gutae, roof building and coffering for illustration ( see Boardman 1993, 122 and Richter 1987, 25 for illustrations ; Stierlin 2001, 48 ) . This heterotaxy into rock conserved the signifier of temples that had developed in wood but the act of petrifaction is itself advanced. It might be speculated that rock immortalised the temple and made it a adjustment and lasting place for the God.

Before continuing to discourse tradition and invention in the Periclean edifice programme, a few words should be said about the development of the two chief Grecian orders, the Doric and Ionic ( see comparative illustrations in Stierlin 2001, 49-50 ) as these are cardinal to understanding the development of the Acropolis. The Doric order developed in the Grecian mainland and Greek southern Italy and Sicily and is typified by broader columns without bases, tapering towards the top, heavier entablature with jumping triglyphs and metopes, the latter sometimes with carven ornament ( Stierlin 2001, 52 ) . A hexastyle ( sic column ) facade was usual. The Ionic order developed subsequently ( c590BC ) in Grecian Asia Minor. Columns were more slender, had moulded bases and were non markedly tapered. The capital had two spiral-scroll spirals and the lighter entablature was non broken into triglyphs/metope form, leting uninterrupted ornament. From the groundplans, Ionic temples, such as that of Heraion at Samos and Artemision of Ephesus besides appear more hypostyle than peristyle, holding two ( dipteral ) rows of columns instead than the Doric one and frequently with an octostyle ( eight column ) frontage ( see programs in Stierlin 2001, 105, 106 ) . The two orders have been contrasted as masculine, knee bend, unsmooth and feminine, elegant and refined severally ( Stierlin 2001, 49 ) and at the clip of the Periclean edifice programme were ‘still basically distinguishable regional styles’ ( Rhodes 1995, 54 ) .

The Periclean temple to Athena Parthenos, or Parthenon, was built between 447 and 438BC by the designers Iktinos and Kallikrates and the sculpturer Phidias, and formed the centerpiece of the edifice programme of the political leader Pericles ( Stierlin 2001, 183 ) . This programme sought to laud Athens and in the instance of the Acropolis, to retrace the temples burned by the Persians in the early 5th century BC. It has been said to tag ‘the flood tide of the Doric style’ for the harmoniousness of its proportions, the polishs in its construction and its sculptural ornaments ( Richter 1987, 33 ) . However, in comparing to the somewhat earlier temple of Zeus at Olympia ( finished about 460BC ) , we can see that while the latter is about strictly Doric in manner, ‘the Parthenon’s signifier and spirit partakes liberally of the Ionic’ ( Rhodes 1995, 74 ) . This combination of Doric and Ionic can clearly be seen on a groundplan ( eg Stierlin 2001, 191 ) , which reveal an octostyle peripteral Doric portico ( 8 by 17 columns ) , instead than a Doric hexastyle, while six more slender Doric columns behind the octostyle frontages suggest a dipteral colonnade, an Ionic characteristic. The cella was divided into two suites, a smaller western room, the Hall of the Virgins and the eastern naos that housed the statue of the Athena, both approached from the exterior and non connected. The Hall of the Virgins contained four Ionic columns while the naos was divided into three naves by a overlying Doric colonnade following the walls and returning behind the statue, a first in temple architecture ( Rhodes 1995, 87 ) . Of class the usage of an Ionic frieze around the cella should non be overlooked.

The Parthenon seems advanced in its deliberate commixture of Doric and Ionic elements ( Rhodes 1995, 146 ) . However, some of these elements that may look advanced can be found elsewhere and on much earlier temples. For illustration, the 6th century Doric peripteral temple of Artemis on Corfu had an octostyle facade and the same proportion of columns ( 8 by 17 ) as the mid-fifth century Parthenon, every bit good as two rows of columns in the cella ( Lawrence1996, 77 ) . The temple of Athena at Paestum in southern Italy is a Doric hexastyle temple of around 510BC but the interior portico utilizations eight Ionic columns in an Ionic agreement ( Stierlin 2001, 74 ; see program in Richter 1987, 30 ) . It was besides noted that the Parthenon made usage of overlying porticoes in the naos ( see Reconstruction in Boardman 1993, 118 ) . These were besides used in the modern-day 2nd temple of Hera at Paestum ( 460-440BC ) and Stierlin suggested that in the instance of the latter they may hold been used as a deliberate archaizing component, mentioning to the temple of Aphaia on Aegina, built around 500BC ( Stierlin 2001, 79 ; comparison exposures in Stierlin 2001, 78 and 148 ) . In a needfully ( to suit the expansive statue of Athena ) broad temple like the Parthenon, 30.88m at the stylobate, they may hold been more practical every bit good as attractive. It can so be seen that while the Parthenon may be advanced in the context of mainland Greek temples, there are analogues in the Grecian temples of southern Italy and Sicily that provide case in points for blending Doric and Ionic characteristics ( Rhodes 1995, 198n12 ) every bit good as characteristics from Archaic temples on Corfu and Aegina. The frequently discussed architectural polish of the curvature or splaying of the Parthenon was besides a traditional Doric solutions to drainage, although in the Parthenon it succeeds in forestalling the temple from looking knee bend ( Rhodes 1995, 74 ) . The chief factor in the layout of the Parthenon was in fact the older temple that it replaced, instead than any genuinely fresh programs. The designers of the Parthenon did non work in isolation but in a cultural and lingual zone stretching from Italy to Cyprus, with mainland Greece in the center and while the Parthenon is every bit alone as every Grecian temple it may be said to hold incorporated traditional inventions in a traditional manner.

Traveling on to see briefly two other Periclean edifices on the Acropolis, the Erechtheion and the Propylaia, the Erechtheion, ceremonially the most of import edifice of the Acropolis, is a existent invention in the sense that instead than being a canonical temple, it is fitted to the mythic and physical landscape of the Acropolis. As such, it was constructed on two degrees, though with three different roof degrees, and incorporated the cults of Athena in the east cella, and Poseidon-Erechtheus in the West cella and north porch ( Rhodes 1995, 131-36 ) . The Erechtheion is Ionic in its columns and friezes and provides a complement to the Parthenon with its human-shaped Karyatid columns following a hundred twelvemonth old Ionic tradition begun by the Siphnian Treasury at Delphi ( Stierlin 2001, 208 ) . The Propylaia, or gateway to the Acropolis foreshadowed this balance once more by integrating both traditional Doric hexastyle outside combined with an internal Ionic colonnade. Rhodes says of its designer: ‘Mnesikles’ greatest part to the history and way of Grecian architecture was likely his vision of Doric and Ionic as equal constituents of a greater Grecian architecture’ ( 1995, 73 ) .

It is possible that in a sense the Parthenon is more important to its modern adorants than its builders and that there is a desire to warrant this by mention to invention. Grecian temples were built non on subjective rules of aesthetic beauty but on mathematical and spiritual rules of harmoniousness and temples that reflected a peculiar harmoniousness were successful ( Stierlin 2001, 64-74 ) . The Periclean edifice programme did non radically innovate from a inactive or dead tradition: the edifices examined above surely did unite many elements to accomplish their alone purposes but so no two Grecian temples were of all time the same. Throughout their 1000 plus twelvemonth history, Grecian temple edifices and their builders combined traditional elements with limited inventions that by and large belonged to the temple edifice tradition guided by the rules of harmoniousness –a temple should be temple, after all.


Boardman, J. 1993. ‘The Classical Period’ , in Boardman, J. ( ed. ) 1993.The Oxford History of Classical Art.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 83-150.

Johnston, A. 1993. ‘Pre-Classical Greece’ , in Boardman, J. ( ed. ) 1993.The Oxford History of Classical Art.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 11-82.

Lawrence, A.W. and Tomlinson, R.A. 1996.Grecian Architecture.( 5Thursdayedition, Pelican History of Art ) . New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

Rhodes, R.F. 1995.Architecture and Meaning on the Acropolis.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Richter, G.M.A. 1987.A Handbook of Greek Art.( 9Thursdayedition ) . Oxford: Phaidon.

Sowerby, R. 1995.The Greeks.London: Routledge.

Stierlin, H. 2001.Greece from Mycenae to the Parthenon.Koln: Taschen.

Whitley, J. 2001.The Archaeology of Ancient Greece.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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