Architecture can positively impact people’s lives.
It is the interior proportions of space, the manipulation of light, and the flow from one room to another that an architectural experience primarily consists of. It is also materiality, understood as texture or as gradients of transparency. It is how you make that architecture interact with the surrounding landscape.
Building in Greece is intricate and complex. Ancient Heritage, classicism, identity issues, fragmented building code, and steep topography are common challenges an architect must face. The situation calls for a better understanding of our legacy. What is Greek? What is our legacy?
On a recent Rome visit, I walked around the Roman forum and bought the book “Orders of Architecture” by R. A. Cordingley. I have lived for over ten years under the Acropolis hill and walked up the Parthenon and the surrounding area many times, yet I could not see what I saw in Rome.
In his book, Cordingley provides an extraordinary collection of measured drawings derived from the actual monuments of Greek and Roman antiquity. On one of the pages, the column of the Parthenon is drawn up. Its dimensions are reasonable if you compare it to the columns of the Roman Temple of Poseidon, for example. Toward the end of the book, there is a comparison between Greek and Roman doors and windows. In some cases, the roman doors are four times higher than the ones from Greek antiquity.
Comparing the different orders, it becomes apparent that the scale of Greek classicism still relates to the human scale and is in dialogue with the surrounding landscape. On the other hand, the scale of Roman monuments is grandiose, and their presence is ever so imposing. In this – one can argue apparent – observation, I rediscovered the intrinsic values of my Greek legacy. That sense of spatial generosity without overwhelming the visitor while still connecting to the place is a very Greek experience.