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Will the aesthetics of the future be influenced by the past?

The Aesthetics of the Past in Contemporary Architecture

The trend towards a greater identification with the built environment and a search for elements of the past to inform the aesthetics of the present and future can be seen as a reaction to the fast-paced and constantly changing nature of contemporary society. In an effort to find stability and a sense of belonging, people are turning to the past and looking to traditional forms of architecture and design for inspiration. This trend is particularly evident among younger generations, who are showing a strong interest in classical architectural elements such as Greek statues and Corinthian columns, as evidenced by the increase in searches for these terms on platforms such as Pinterest.

The incorporation of elements from ancestral cultures and ethnicities into contemporary architecture also reflects this desire for a connection to the past and a sense of belonging. By drawing on the traditions and cultural practices of their ancestors, people are able to tap into a sense of shared history and cultural identity that can provide a sense of stability and continuity in a rapidly changing world.



The Impact of Modernism and Deconstructionism on Architecture

In his book, Anti-Architecture and Deconstruction: The Triumph of Nihilism, Nikos A. Salingaros analyzes the evolution of modernist architecture into deconstructionism and its impact on contemporary design. According to Salingaros, this evolution has resulted in a fragmented and disorienting view of the built environment, which can have negative effects on emotions and feelings of belonging.


Salingaros argues that the monumentality of ancient civilizations' buildings and the simple ornamentation and decorative details of vernacular architectures serve as examples of creative expression through spatiality and the search for identity through the built environment. These traditional forms of architecture, with their emphasis on symmetry, proportion, and ornamentation, provide a sense of stability and order that can be lacking in the fragmented and disorienting architecture of the present.


Salingaros also critiques the minimalist and deconstructivist approaches to architecture, which he believes have led to a loss of meaning and purpose in the built environment. He argues that a return to more traditional forms of ornamentation and decoration can help to create a "living architecture" that tells stories, connects with the past, and points to other futures. This living architecture, with its emphasis on the cultural and symbolic significance of the built environment, can provide a sense of belonging and meaning in a world that is often chaotic and disorienting.


The Relevance of Ancestral Cultures in Contemporary Architecture

The incorporation of elements from ancestral cultures and ethnicities into contemporary architecture reflects a growing desire among people to connect with their roots and understand their past. This trend challenges the traditional, Eurocentric notion of beauty and moves beyond the narrow, myopic view of certain cultures as "primitive," "rustic," or "wild." Instead, these elements are being recognized as genuine and necessary alternatives for those seeking to better understand their own identities in a contemporary context.

This trend towards a greater appreciation of the cultural and historical significance of diverse architectural styles and traditions can be seen as a reaction to the homogenizing forces of globalization, which have often led to the erasure of local and traditional forms of architecture. By incorporating elements from ancestral cultures and ethnicities into the built environment, people are able to celebrate their cultural heritage and maintain a connection to their roots in a rapidly changing world.

Incorporating these elements into contemporary architecture also allows for a greater diversity of aesthetic expression and challenges the traditional, Eurocentric notion of beauty. By moving beyond this narrow, myopic view, people are able to appreciate the richness and beauty of a wide range of cultural traditions and architectural styles. This helps to create a more inclusive and culturally diverse built environment that reflects the complexities and diversity of contemporary society.


The Importance of Ornamentation in Architecture

According to Nikos A. Salingaros, ornamentation, even if not strictly necessary from a functional perspective, is an important part of creating a "living architecture." This term refers to an architecture that tells stories, connects with the past, and points to other futures. It is an architecture that is infused with meaning and cultural significance, rather than being merely a functional, utilitarian structure.


Salingaros argues that ornamentation is an essential part of this living architecture, as it helps to define the character and identity of a building or space. Ornamentation can take many forms, including decorative details, patterns, and symbolic elements that have cultural and historical significance. By incorporating these elements into the built environment, people are able to create spaces that are more than just functional, but are also meaningful and expressive.


In this sense, ornamentation can be seen as a way of connecting with the past and preserving the cultural and historical significance of the built environment. It helps to ensure that the symbols and cultural elements that have shaped society and individual identity are not erased from history, but are instead an integral part of daily life. Through ornamentation, the past is able to inform the present and shape the future, creating a sense of continuity and connection across time.

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