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Kurt Koffka, 1932 – Principles of Gestalt Psychology

Order. Let us now turn to “order,” the concept derived from the sciences of life. Can we give a satisfactory definition of this con- cept? We speak of an orderly arrangement of objects when every object is in a place which is determined by its relation to all others. Thus the arrangement of objects thrown at random into a lumber room is not orderly, while that of our drawing room furniture is. Similarly we speak of an orderly march of events (Head) when each part event occurs at its particular time, in its particular place, and in its particular way, because all the other part events occur at their particular times, in their particular places, and in their par- ticular ways. An orderly march of events is, e.g., the movement of the piano keys when a practised player plays a tune; a mere sequence of events without any order takes place when the keys are pressed down by a dog running over the keyboard.

“Order not an objective category.” Both examples may give rise to a particular objection or may lead to a special theory of order. Let us take up the objection first: “Why,” so an opponent, whom for the sake of convenience we shall call Mr. P, might ask, “do you call the motions of the piano keys in the second case less orderly than the first? I can,” so he continues, “find only one reason, and that is that you like the first better than the second. But this subjective feeling of preference is surely not a sufficient reason for intro- ducing a distinction allegedly fundamental, and for deriving from this distinction a new scientific category. And the same is true of your first example. You happen to like your drawing room, but I can well imagine a person, say a stranger from another planet, who would feel happier in your storeroom. Look at your two cases without any personal bias; then you will find that each object, whether in the drawing room or in the loft, is where it is because, according to mechanical laws, it could not be anywhere else; and just so is each key set into motion according to the stern laws of mechanics whether it be Paderewski’s fingers or a frightened dog which run over the keyboard. But if the ordinary old mechanical laws explain these events, why introduce a new concept, order, which confuses the issue by creating an artificial difference between processes which from the point of view of mechanics are essentially similar.?’*

REFUTATION OF THIS VIEW BY VITALISM. To this argument another person (we will call him Mr. V) might reply as follows: “My dear fellow, it is very generous of you to disregard your own feel- ings in the matter, for I know how sensitive you are to badly fur- nished rooms and how fastidious your taste is with regard to piano music. I shall therefore exclude from my answer the person who is merely supposed to look at or live in one of our two rooms and to listen to the two sequences of tones, just as you said one should. But even so there remains a difference between the two alternatives in each of the two examples, and this difference is decisive, since it refers to the way in which the arrangement and the sequence have been brought about. In my ideal lumber room, each piece has been deposited as it happened to come without regard to any other. And since, as you pointed out yourself, every object in this loft is where it is according to strict mechanical laws, this lumber room is an excellent example of what mechanical forces will do if left to them- selves. Compare this with our drawing room. Here, careful plan- ning has preceded the actual moving of the furniture, and each piece receives a place that makes it subservient to the impression of the whole. What does it matter whether a table has at first been pushed too far to the left? Somebody who knows the plan, or who has a direct feeling for the intended effect, will push it back into its proper place: just so a picture hung awry will be straightened out; vases with proper flowers will be well distributed, all of course with the help of mechanical forces, but nothing by these mechanical forces alone. I need not repeat my argument for the two tone sequences, the application is too obvious. But my conclusion is this: in inor- ganic nature you find nothing but the interplay of blind mechanical forces, but when you come to life you find order, and that means a new agency that directs the workings of inorganic nature, giving aim and direction and thereby order to its blind impulses.” And so Mr. V, in trying to answer Mr. P’s argument, has developed the theory which I referred to at the beginning of this discussion. Re- membering our previous discussion of nature and life, one will recognize this theory as a vitalistic one. As a matter of fact the strongest arguments for vitalism have been based on the distinction of orderly processes and blind sequences.

SOLUTION OF THE POSITIVIST-VITALIST DILEMMA. But let us return the argument between Messrs. P and V. We have already pledged our psychology to a rejection o£ vitalism. But can we disregard V’s answer to P s argument, his defence of the distinction between orderly and orderless arrangements and events? We can not. And that lands us in a quandary: we accept order but we reject a spe- cial factor that produces it. For the first we shall be despised by Mr. P and his followers; for the second we shall incur the wrath of Mr. V. Both reactions would be justified if our attitude were truly eclectic; we should then appear to accept two propositions that are incompatible with each other. Therefore the task of our system is clearly defined: we must attempt to reconcile our ac- ceptance and our rejection, we must develop a category of order which is free from vitalism. The concept of order in its modern form is derived from the observation of living beings. But that does not mean that its application is restricted to life. Should it be pos- sible to demonstrate order as a: characteristic of natural events and therefore within the domain of physics, then we could accept it in the science of life without introducing a special vital force re- sponsible for the creation of order. And that is exactly the solution which gestalt theory has offered and tried to elaborate. How that has been done we shall learn in the course of this book. But it is meet to point out the integrative function of the gestalt solution. Life and nature are brought together not by a denial of one of the most outstanding characteristics of the former but by the proof that this feature belongs to the latter also. And by this kind of integration gestalt theory contributes to that value of knowledge which we have called reverence for things animate and inanimate. Materialism accomplished the integration by robbing life of its order and thereby making us look down on life as just a curious combination of order less events; if life is as blind as inorganic nature we must have as little respect for the one as for the other. But if inanimate nature shares with life the aspect of order, then the respect which we feel directly and unreflectively for life will spread over to inanimate nature also.


Quartermere de Quincy, 1832 – Historical Dictionary of Architecture

ORDER, This word is a synonym for disposition, distribution (see these words); But in the application that one makes of it, either to architecture in general, or to a building in particular, it is given meanings which differ from each other as the species differs from the genus. When we use this word in general theory, we make what we call an order as a of the elementary parts of the art of building. It is thus that Vitruvius sought to distinguish, between all the things which constitute architecture, ex quibus architectura report (liv. I, ch. N), the ordinatio of the disposilio and the distributio. But these distinctions are too arbitrary; and if ever the use of these words fixed some perceptible variety in it, it would today be rather difficult to perceive it and to convey its nuances in the meanings of the French words which correspond to them. We will be satisfied to say that order, when it is used (as when one says the order in the art of building), art of arranging suitably and according to the object of the building, 1st in its elevation, the masses, the parts of the construction, the columns, the solids and the voids; (2) in its plan, the entrances, the clearances, the communications, the correspondence of the different rooms, but only on a large scale; the details in this part depending on what is called distribution (See this word.)

ORDER, when this word is applied not to architecture, but to one of its works or to a particular building, means the way in which the architect ordered the masses, the parts, the details considered as a whole, in their effect, in the impression that their appearance produces, and also in the character which must be proper to the building. Thus we will say that the arrangement of such and such a building is noble, large, simple or common, petty and jagged. In this respect, the order of an edifice must be in accord, not only with its dimension, but also with its use. There is such a vast palace, the arrangement of which is too inconsistent with its extent; there is such an order which is too important for the smallness of its building. Order is thus to order, considered as quality in architecture, what effect is to cause; it is, if one can say, as for the order understood in the language of art, as an assemblage of relations, forms and proportions of which each kind of column is the indicator and the type, we will say that there are as many of orders than of orders of columns. We therefore give the name of order to any arrangement of columns belonging to each of the orders, and each of these orders will take the name of each order. There are thus Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders. Not only are we thus called each of the ways in which each of the three orders is implemented by the architect, in the plan and the elevation of a building edifice, but this name is still given to the mass of the edifice which, in its elevation, will have no columns, provided that the parts of this elevation present spaces in proportion to the rules of this or that order, and details of moldings or profiles which recall the taste and character of the details assigned to these orders.

We also recognize five kinds of orders which are based, for the arrangement of the columns, in the anterior peristyles of the temples, on the number of columns forming the front of these peristyles, from the temple which has only two columns at the angles, and gradually until the temple which has ten, or the decastyle.

ORDER This word, in architecture, has a general meaning that does not need any definition , since all synonyms, such as arrangement , disposition, etc. would not give a clearer idea.

The idea of ​​order is one of those primary ideas which carry their explanation with them, and serve to explain others rather than others cannot be used to explain it: so there are few words which have more jobs.

Applied to architecture, this word therefore generally means , as in the works of nature and in those of all the productions of man, a a certain system of arrangement of the parts of a whole, and of their relation between them and with the whole, which shows that an intelligent intention presided over it. The accident produced no order, that is to say, any situation which indicates the need for existence of planned reports and constans. So nothing, by the effect of chance, can happen or succeed one another in a similar fashion; and it is the opposite effect, that is to say the continuity, perpetuity and always the same return of the same causes, the same results and the same phenomena which, from all time, must have attested to reason human existence of a providence, source and immutable principle of lence that governs the universe.

The works of man therefore come closest to those of the author of nature, according to whether we discover there the most applications of the intelligent principle, which man alone among all created beings has received from the divinity. It is through order that this principle of intelligence manifests itself ; it is also what we admire in the organization of societies, in the legislation of peoples, in the productions of genius, in all the works of industry. It is towards the perfection of order that the meditations of philosophers, the research of scholars, and the work of artists constantly tend .

Among all the arts, there is none where the existence and application of order are better felt than in architecture, considered not only in terms of the physical relations it has with the needs of men. , but still more particularly in those intellectual combinations that art, as the production of the mind, takes pleasure in manifesting and make sensitive to the eyes to satisfy reason and taste.

What is called order is therefore a thing on which there is a general feeling among all men. We can say that it is in their nature to tend to it; but in this genre, as in many others, not all succeed; and those who come closest to it, have the most and the best studied the laws in the book of nature, which, although open to all, is understood only by the few . This study only reaches its highest degree among peoples and among men where the greatest and most perfect civilization will have developed. the faculties proper to grasp, in their causes and in their effects, the properties of the relations which unite between them physical objects and the things of intelligence. When we observe which are the peoples who have devoted themselves the most to this study, we also notice that it is among them that the arts of imitation have reached this eminent degree of accuracy, harmony, truth, of proportion, all qualities which emanate from the general principle of order.

Among these arts, as we have already said, architecture, which consists only of relationships, is the art whose perfection can most easily be measured by the order that There will be seen dominating, and by the evidence with which it will show itself there , No doubt that in all the architectures the most foreign to each other there is some element of order. An absolute negation of order cannot perhaps exist in any work of men, and one will always find some idea of ​​it even in the hut or in the most shapeless cabin of the savage; but it is clear that in theory the notion of order will only be applied to the work which will bring its character to the highest degree.

However, the order par excellence in architecture will be that which will be based on the most complete system, that is to say, the one where the principle of intelligence will be shown the most ; who will have coordinated in the fairest and most constant manner, the relations of each part with the whole, and of the whole with each part, by the harmony of proportions.

But it is, as we will say elsewhere (see PRO- PORTION), on the idea of ​​proportion that the greatest number takes the change. This name is very improperly given to the principal ratios of any object whatever: each object doubtless has ratios of height, width, & c. but these simple measurement ratios do not make the proportion. It is really only the bodies called organized which have proportions; it means a single word. Thus, from the size of the branch of each tree we will not conclude either the size or the size of the tree, because we know how many chances would make this rule faulty and misleading by generalizing its application. Rather} each animal is organized in a manner so constant in their kind, and the Special Rapporteur ports of one of its members with the body are so uniform, only one party makes you acquainted with the measure at all (ex ungue leoneni); and conversely we can say it at all.

This is what is called proportion; this is the image of order. there the order par excellence applied to the works of architecture, it will not be difficult to discern, among the various known architectures, which one will deserve the preference over the others. It is clear that this offers us a measure which depends neither on whim nor on prevention. We do not claim here to travel through all the countries of the earth to submit to this parallel the different ways of building (which the articles of this Dictionary have already made known); a short exposition will suffice for the result of this theory. Only two architectures can be subjected to this research: that of Egypt and that which is called Gothic.

Was there in Egypt a principle of order so regular, so generalized and constant, that one can deduce from it a true system of proportions? Whatever prejudice which the monuments to this day well known of this architecture may have given rise to in its favor, we believe that we were mistaken in seeking to apply to them the same properties as those of the Greeks. First, the extraordinary simplicity of the masses of Egyptian buildings, their constant monotony, the completely routine spirit of the nation in all its works, make us regard it as as improbable as it would have been. useless, a study of reports intended to please many blow more to the mind than to the eyes. We know that a temple, as a whole and in its parts, was necessarily subject in Egypt to the types which a religion hostile to any novelty had once consecrated; it is therefore easily persuaded that such an edifice did not claim either the particular genius of the artist, or those multiplied attempts which he needs to discover the causes of the impressions of art on our mind. In Egypt, greatness and solidity were the qualities which religion had allowed the architect to express; but greatness and solidity can exist without any system of proportions . Massive columns, sives, massive walls, that’s all Egyptian architecture .

We find there, it is true, columns variously streamlined, and capitals varied and even very diverse in their forms; but it has never been noticed that a necessary relation has been established between the forms and the ornaments of a certain capital, and the conformation as the decoration of such a column; it has never been possible to establish that there was a constant relation between the height of such and such a capital and that of such a column; and we see a capital with leaves (for example) and on several floors on the same column, sometimes lower, sometimes higher or slender, sometimes thicker or slender. A certain uniformity of measurement reigns, it is true, between the height and the width of some columns; but these things are found everywhere, and the simplest methods of construction serve to establish this relation. There were certainly in Egypt measures fixed everywhere, and they made a temple, a column, as one made a statue, with the compass , that is all; but the compass or the simple and mechanical use of this instrument does not give these relations of harmony, taste and beauty, on which the order par excellence rests. Too much uniformity and servility prevented in Egypt the establishment of a system of proportions , the result of order, the result of which the property is to manifest the intelligence which produces it. There were general measures, that is to say, those which need and custom establish in the routine products of industry between the principal parts; but we did not know this regulating module which can become the measure of all buildings, and which can be found in each of their smallest parts.

The excess of simplicity and was opposed, in Egyptian architecture, to the discovery of a system of relations both fixed in their principles and variable in their applications, according to the differences in character and ideas that art wants to express. We have seen, on the contrary, in the GOTHIC article, that the kind of building to which this name is given was born, by a diverse fate, from so many heterogeneous elements, and originated in times of such confusion. , of such ignorance, that the extreme diversity of forms, inspired by the sole whim, prevented any true system of proportion to be introduced into an architecture which does not really express to the mind, constitute, that the idea of ​​disorder.

Here we have to agree on the real notions that this subject comprises ; for many people are mistaken in their ideas of order and proportion in architecture. When you enter the interior of a Gothic church, you are struck by the regular arrangement of the pillars and arches of which it is composed; one admires there the intertwining of its vaults, the lightness and what is called the harshness of its masses; but all these merits, whatever their value, have nothing to do with the principle of the kind of order which we say to be that of the system of an architecture. Lots of things dictate ted by instinct alone can produce beauties in this art, and have no proportions in the sense that must be attached to this word. So question Gothic architecture, ask it if its pillars have fixed relations between them and between their parts: it will answer you, by the facts, that the same pillar could have in height three times or six times and even more the same size; that none of this is so determined as to be constant neither in the buildings, nor even in a single building, whatever its size. Ask him if the marquee has a relation of size, shape and ornament with its pillar: it will answer you, by the facts, that the only whim or the chance decide. Ask her if she has any limbs, protrusions, details corresponding to this or that arrangement: she will tell you that she has never been concerned with other relations than those of the building and the building. ‘execution; it will show you the most squashed supports next to the slimmest spindles; it will show you assemblages of small columns which support nothing, and sometimes a multitude of these useless supports, sometimes masses in cantilever or without supports. If you ask her the reason for her church exteriors, she will only answer you with an indigestible confusion of incoherent parts and details, cut out by the most ignorant whim. If it makes elevations, it never gives them their support, and it takes pride in a procerity which aspires only to appear a tour de force.

There is therefore no system of proportion in the Gothic; there is not a principle of order which makes it possible to ask each part, each detail, each ornament, the reason which coordinates them with the whole and with other parts, other details, other ornaments. We believe that it is very useless to show that such a spirit never entered the dienne (see this word), the product of an even more limited instinct , and where the luxury of the most disorganized ornaments takes the place of forms which could constitute any way of building. Even more, no doubt, we will be dispensed from looking for the slightest indication of the principle of order in question here, in the lightness of the structures of China and among a people where everything has been, at all times, reduced in routine. Let us therefore now see that the principle of order which we have not been able to find in any of the known architectures, not —only is legibly written in Greek architecture, but cannot fail to be there, since this architec- ture owed him, in a way, his birth. Indeed we must remember (we will not give the proofs here, see the words ARCHITECTURE, WOOD, FRAMEWORK, DORIQUE, etc.) that Greek architecture , as the monuments present it to us with the developments and modifications who fixed it and made it applicable to all peoples, did not have as its sole creator this instinct which everywhere learned to cut and assemble stones. She alone had, during the centuries which formed her, a kind of model; and this model was itself a combination of parts matched and brought into constant relation by necessity and reasoning. She na- therefore quits a pre-existing combination, of which it adopted the main data; hence its principle of order. The Laws, which formed the first edifices in Greece , produced there a compound, by assembly, of parts, which were found to be subordinated to ratios naturally uniform everywhere. This is what brought into the assimilation that the stone construction made of it, that regularity of arrangement from which, however, the spirit of imitation was able to set aside what could have introduced the immutable fixity of routine. Nothing was taken from the model except the spirit of order and proportion, and the variety introduced into it a sufficient dose of freedom for art to be able to bend itself to the expression of more. of some kind of quality.

But in giving itself a system of proportions, in the first combinations of wood construction , art still needed to study the spirit of proportions in a larger model, that of nature. So what happened in Greece happened nowhere else; it is because in proportion as the imitation of nature was perfected in the images which the art of drawing made of the human body, this spirit of imitation must necessarily have had its influence on architecture.

Now, it is here that, by reflecting on the common bond which unites all the arts, we see both how and why nature, in the human body, had to react on the art of building of the Egyptians, Gothics, Indians and other peoples, and also how and why the architecture which has the most order, or of fixed proportions , was that of the people who carried the study and the science of proportions furthest into the painting, delineation and sculpture of bodies.

It was through this that the architect, comparing his work to that of nature in organized beings, gave himself a new model by analogy; and this new model consisted (as we said in the articles quoted above), not in the positive form of any being, but in the system of laws which govern the order. organization of all living beings. As each of these beings is a compound of members and organs of which all the dimensions, in each species, are such that one of these parts indicates the measure and of the other parts and the whole, the architect imposed himself to even the condition of regulating the constituent parts of the edifice in such a correspondence between them, that the size of the whole could determine that of the column, for example, and vice versa. It was the same with the secondary parts: thus each division of an entablature was endowed with the faculty of making known the measure of the entablature; a simple tri- glyph determined the width of each column- is lying; the intersection could indicate the diameter of the column; the diameter of the column could become in the building the regulator of all the spaces; and all these proportions were found, as they are in nature, not geometrical data which would also have reduced art to a servile monoto- nie, but only a general principle of order susceptible of numerous modifications, comprising , in a word, the same varieties as those of which nature gives us both precept and example. But this imitation of the proportional system of organized beings, transported in architecture, does not should not be reduced to being a simple principle of abstract order, and proper only to satisfy reason.

The arts which imitate the human body do not limit the study of natural proportions to the simple regularity which it carries in the imitative method. The result of this study was to fix the attention of the imitator on the effects which derive from them, and these effects are the various impressions of pleasure which the very variety of proportions which nature modifies in beings, according to sexes, according to the different qualities which suit them, according to the properties which it distributes in varying degrees among creatures. The imitation of the human body could not have been very long without discerning these varieties in its different ways, without our noticing that each kind of physical or even moral quality was distinguished in the external conformation. of bodies, by varieties of proportions which became the faithful indicator of a characteristic property. Thus, strength or lightness, agility, skill, grace, nobility , beauty, were represented in the mind by a certain agreement between forms and proportions , agreement where eye could not be mistaken. The proportions were a kind of language which expressed first the most sensitive and salient qualities, then those which are its nuances. There is nobody who does not know this graduated scale of all the physical and moral characters, of which all kinds of nature, in the Attic statues, offer the collection.

The same must have happened to architecture, as soon as it had received an organization which assimilated it to works of imitation of nature.

Architecture had the need to express to the eyes and to the mind the character of the physical or moral qualities which can be made perceptible by the agreement of the forms which constitute it, by the relations of these forms among themselves, by the diversity of masses, by variations in measures, by the meaning of details and ornaments, all things which manifest such and such a quality, and produce on the spectator such or such determinable impression. This was one of the results of the principle of order, no longer understood in a universal or physical sense, but in the moral acceptance which spirit and taste give it. It is in fact in the nature of order that each work of art, like every work of nature, bears the exterior character of the qualities which constitute it .

We understand that it is only a question here of Moral and intellectual order. Any building can undoubtedly be sufficient for the material needs of its use, without art shaping the external forms with the aim of pleasing; but pleasure is also a need for man cultivated by society, and it is this need which is the father of the fine arts. As soon as he made himself felt, he asked architecture to express to the eyes, and by constant signs, the main characters that the forms, proportions and details, accessories of a building, can make. sensitive.

The main characters are those to which the ideas of power or strength, grace and elegance, lightness and richness are attached. However, like these ideas, which must emerge from the combination of lines, forms and measures, are manifested most clearly by heaviness or lightness, there had to be established a progression of these two qualities, in the relative proportion of the masses of each building, and consequently supports or columns.

Hence that graduation of heaviness or lightness, which in Greek architecture distinguishes and characterizes each of the modes applicable to buildings. What the Greeks called ergasia, the Romans ratio columnarum, is what we call an order of columns.

The order, in fact, and the character of the quality that it expresses does not exist only in every species of columns, they are found in all parts of the building; but the column is the indicator and the regulator: this is why the name of order has been given to the supports of different proportion, of different style and form, and variously adorned. called Doric, Ionic, or Corinthian. In these different words (see them) we have dealt with the kind of each of the orders, their formation, their character, their property and their diversity , and we will not go into further details here. towards them.

The aim of this article was, by analyzing the general notions of order reapplied to architecture, to trate how and why Vordre course, not like any provision, but as em- systematic ployment proportions, was the privilege of Greek architecture, and how each kind of gold columns called ^ Ist, was the kind of proportions , either material for the eye, or moral for the mind, that art knows how to implement in different degrees.

It is in fact constant that each order of columns, and by the nature of the proportions which constitute it , and by the effect of the character which these proportions have imparted to it, serve to render a species of principal quality to which correspond its measure, its form, its ornament. But we must not believe that each of these three modes is limited to what is absolute in each of these qualities.

Thus the Doric order, which signifies force, can express many different degrees and shades of this quality, by numerous degrees of pesantor and massiveness. The slightest knowledge of Doric monuments of antiquity teaches us that one can count there a rather large number of nuances. In fact, it is with this sort of imitation of abstract qualities, like that of the properties of the human body, where one can, in the expression of bodily force, also discern a fairly large number of degrees, from gravity to the beginning of lightness. This is so among the Greeks, from the Doric, which is less than four diameters in height, to that which approaches six in height.

If the Doric order is that which presides over the imitation or the expression of the force, of the simplicity and of all the varieties which are like the demi-all of this mode, the Ionic order, which comes after, does – dre by the raising of its shaft, by the more slender shape of its mass, by the elegance of its capital, by the removal of the commemorative details of the primitive construction, that he is the representative of that character which, in the conformation of the human body, belongs to a certain sex or to such an age, and which, in the moral scale of sensations and ideas, is characteristic of certain forms discourse, certain modes of eloquence or poetry.

As one cannot make stronger than what is already strong in the absolute sense, without becoming heavy, nor lighter than what is elegant, without falling into thin, one cannot also go beyond what is rich, without going overboard in luxury; and the Corinthian order , as a type and image of both elegance and wealth, finds, in the varied use of its its proportions, its forms, its ornaments, enough to satisfy all the degrees which may be involved in the expression of the quality which is assigned to it. Also, experience has shown that we were wrong in trying to bid on this order by forming the so-called composite.

Each of these orders is therefore, in buildings, the indicator of the forms, taste and character on which the system of moral order is based, which is found in Greek architecture, and which it alone has been able to bring together. to the physical order of proportions, or of the positive relations of the whole with each part; so that what is pleasure, ornament and wealth, Also found distributed in each part.

What we have just said on the characteristic property of the three Greek orders, and on the kind of quality which each offers the expression, must demonstrate what was and what will always be the error of those who have tried or who will still try to invent new orders. This error arises from the false point of view from which one is led to consider the kinds of columns which are called orders, and the kinds of orders which result from them.

It has already been observed that there are three very distinct things in the three Greek orders: their form, their ornamentation and their proportion. Each of the three sedis- of the others in each of these three objects; Now, there is already a great mistake in claiming to invent a new order by the change of only one of these three things; for if one only changes the form without changing the ornament, or the ornament without the form, or both without the proportion, nothing new will have been done; we will have produced only inconsistency and disparity, since these three things are necessary for each other, and depend on a common reason which united them, not arbitrarily, but by virtue of the general principle of harmony.

Because the don’t think about types of their apparent shapes. The Greeks, in fact, did not invent order; they only recognized that in architecture, as in everything else, there was the plus, the minus, and the midpoint between the two, since buildings, whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not, will always express in their appearances the most or the least solidity, seriousness, simplicity or lightness, pleasure or variety.

As between this plus and this minus there cannot be an average term which unites in any degree these opposite qualities, the Greeks have done nothing but fix these three terms: in the Doric, by the characters which give the fairest idea of ​​solid supports, of grave ornaments, of short proportions; in the Corinthian, by the most elegant forms , the richest decoration, the most slender proportion; in the middle or ionic order, by the average use of forms, ornaments and proportions equally distant from the simplicity of the one and the richness of the other.

Consequently, it does not depend on whim to transpose the properties of each order, without disassorting what simple common sense unites: for each of these three things, form, ornament and proportion, being, at the judgment alone with the eyes and with the most ordinary instinct , in a necessary correlation with the two others, it would be to thwart the very nature of things to put what is richer on what there is. a poorer, and vice versa.

This is the elementary principle of orders; which does not mean that it is and must be unnatural to give the solid order another capital than the doric, or the elegant order another capital than the Corinthian. Nothing, doubtless, in general theory will oppose it, provided that in each of these orders the new capital corresponds to the simplest character in one, and the richest in one. the other. In fact, more than one variety has taken place in this genre, especially with regard to the Corinthian; and if they have rarely obtained success, it is because these novelties only stood out by an excess which added nothing to the expression of the given character, or because they remained below, or because they go beyond.

Such has ordinarily been the fate of pretended inventions , the authors of which invented nothing and could invent nothing, for nothing is found outside the law of nature; and this law having been once discovered, by the genius of the art, in the three combinations which we have developed, other conquest of the spirit of innovation than by oddity, that is to say disorder.

But the most ignorant of all the pretensions was that of believing to invent a new order by some change of leaves or symbols in the capital. Whether one substitutes for the acanthus or the laurel the oak leaf, the fleur-de-lis, such or such other symbol, nothing prevents it, and a multitude of these variants are seen in the antique. Well, we will have made, not a new capital, but a new ornament of a capital; still less a new order, for order does not depend on this any more than the proportion of the human figure or of its head. is the dress or the hairstyle. We have already stated several of these considerations in the words under which the three Greek orders are described , and we will not extend this article with new notions in this regard. To conform to the use of dictionaries, which according to the nomenclatures received have multiplied the names of the orders without any reason , we will content ourselves with placing their simple designations here.


Antoine-Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy
Imitation, Restitution and Restoration(1832)

Source: Antoine-Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy, The Historical Dictionary of Architecture, trans. Samir Younés (London: Andreas Papadakis, 1999), pp. 62-67, 69, 217-220.

[…]There are two manners of imitating the antique. The first, improperly called imitation (See this word), consists in reproducing only the appearance through copies. The second consists, on the part of the imitator, in appropriating the principles of the antique and consequently its genius or its causes, along with their consequences.

The first manner is naught but a routine aping, which is likely to discredit its own model in the eyes of those who lack discrimination in this respect. Nothing is easier than this so-called imitation. In fact, the architect here, finds a given number of forms, parts, or members—kin to what in rhetoric is known as the parts of the discourse—that are the necessary elements for implementation, only whose value derives from the reason that determines their place, and the genius that employs them toward the proposed goal.[…]

The true manner of imitating the antique consists, then, in a wise penetration of the spirit and the reasons behind its works; in an understanding of the motives that once caused the artist to employ certain means of execution; and in discovering the veritable causes of the impressions that we receive from such and such a combination of correlations, dimensions, or decorations. The necessary and the useful form the first requirement of works of architecture. From the useful must derive the agreeable, and from their intimate union results the favourable impression received by us. Utility, or need, was the basis and the principal generator—as we shall see elsewhere—of the Greek or the splendid antique architecture. It is in following the precious thread—in the study of monuments—that once guided the inventors of this art, that the moderns could learn to be the continuators of the Greeks.

New needs or different uses will oppose on many a point a conforming reproduction of a great number of ancient edifices within modern works. But the imitation is not the copy. Consequently, the difference in customs and in practice in the new compositions of the art of building, could only pose a difficulty for one who has not learned to read the great book of antiquity, or one who understands only material evidence. However, one who is schooled,not in the letter, but rather in the spirit of these teachings, knows that imitating the antique is not repeating what the ancients built, but rather as the ancients themselves would have built, were they to answer to the same exigencies of other needs and new conditions, as they themselves did.[…]


[…]One restores a dilapidated or partially destroyed work of art, based on the surviving remains that allow, more or less, the repetition of what is missing; one restitutes a work or a monument that has entirely disappeared based on the authority of descriptions, or sometimes based on indications furnished by other works of the same kind.

In devoting oneself in restitutions to a kind of research whose nature—that always includes some element of instinctive foresight—is at once attractive and hazardous, one must not shut one’s eyes to relevant reservations in order to avoid the dangers that surround this work. Before all else, the general theory of imitation must teach us to distinguish between the works of art described by writers -those that find counterparts amid existing works, or where the narrative transmits an authentic image—from those whose ensemble and details elude all forms of language.[…]

An architectural ensemble is generally a composite of identically similar parts. Sometimes, there is but one column in an edifice that displays the largest number of columns; and likewise, there is but one capital in a colonnade. The same applies to ornamental details. The description of a Greek edifice is highly precise when it indicates the type, the order and the measurements, especially for one who has the knowledge of similar works. One must admit however, that there is a beauty that no narrative, or better still, no copy could transmit. But it would be unfair to require from a restitution, that which is not even required from a drawing made after the original.[…]

Besides, if such restitutions do not increase the number of original architectural models for artists and students, they will always offer the advantage of expanding the knowledge that pertains to this art; enlighten its taste with a large number of parallels; facilitate the understanding of texts; furnish authentic facts to the history of art; and offer diverse materials for criticism, which, without this research would remain unknown, and, so to speak, lost.[…]

The restitution of monuments based on the descriptions of writers, is therefore not a fruitless task or a simple curiosity, even if these descriptions do not permit reproducing with complete faithfulness the totality of the true relations or the qualities that made the merit of the originals.[…]

Indeed, it is important, in order to succeed at such restitutions, that the same man be at once the translator and the artist. When the double operation of translating and drawing combines within the activity of one intelligence, then, the translation and the drawing exchange reciprocal influences. The clear and precise intuition of the proper forms of the described object is of marvellous help for the meaning of the words that designate it; and in its turn, the form of the object to be discovered, will emerge more faithfully from the pencil of the artist who appropriated the knowledge of the words and the precise meaning of the description.[…]


[…]Architecture, in fact, is necessarily composed of similar parts that can be identically copied or reproduced by means of an exact observation of measures. Talent does not figure in such an operation, which can be reduced to the simplest mechanism. One can imagine the difficulty, and perhaps the impossibility, of matching the top or bottom half of an Apollo or a Venus, to the other, thing needed by a monument, in order for it to be missing half. But one cannot understand the danger to a mutilated building, if its peristyle were to be completed, for example, with one or several columns, built in the likeness of their model, and in the same materials and measures. Such is, in many cases, the nature of the art of building, that similar additions could be made to a half ruined building, without altering the preserved part in the slightest.

Consider the peristyle in the Pantheon of Rome, which was restored by replacing the granite corner column, and by the reconstruction of the entablature in this same part, without this operation harming the rest of the composition, and without the slightest depreciation as to opinion. In fact, who prefers to see this beautiful ensemble degraded by an unfortunate mutilation? On the contrary, who does not prefer to enjoy the totality of its composition, especially when the restoration in question induces no one into error? How many antique monuments would be preserved if only the care was taken to put back in place the fallen materials, or to replace a stone by another stone?

A ridiculous prejudice has prevailed over this subject for a long time. This is owing to the kind of mania that was engendered by the so-called picturesque system, of the genre of irregular gardens, which by excluding from its compositions all buildings or complete constructions, seems to admit only ruined buildings in its landscapes, or those that appear to be so. Painting had also previously made fashionable the genre called of ruins. (See RUINS) Since then, any project of restoring a ruined antique monument was subject to the disapproval of the followers of the picturesque.

However, we acknowledge that there is a middle ground to be kept in the restoration of antique edifices which are more or less in ruins.

Firstly, one must restore the extant remains, only in view of preserving that which is likely to offer some valuable examples to the art of models or to the science of antiquity. Thus, the measure of these restorations must depend on their pertaining interest, and the degree of dilapidation of the monument. A prop is quite often the only thing needed by a monument, in order for it to be assured of many more centuries of existence.

Secondly, if the building in question is composed of columns, with entablatures and friezes ornamented with sculpted foliage or filled with other figures hewn and cut by the ancient chisel, then it should suffice to bring back the missing parts in their ensemble, and treat their details such a manner that the observer is not mistaken between the ancient work and the work that was brought solely to complete the ensemble.

What we are proposing here has recently occurred in Rome with respect to the famous triumphal arch of Titus, which has fortunately been extricated from all that obstructed it, and whose defaced parts have also been very wisely restored, precisely in the manner and the measure that has just been described.


competition entry for garden pavilion


As the year 2020 ends, the world looks upon itself and calls for a proper retrospection. Global warming and the bushfire crisis, global pandemic and societal lockdown. As we head home and shut ourselves in, we question our role as individuals to the world, we question what is important to our well-being.

Meandering through the bluestone maze, that seemingly appears out of the ground, one retires to a small bench, set away, physically distanced from the other benches. The sculptures are perhaps noticed, subtly framed by the slender posts and the positioning of the bench amidst the nearby planters, like one’s cared pot plants at home.

One’s own mirror, potted plants on the sill, the view out the window – mundane but elemental memories of the pandemic lockdown that keeps us sane.

Looking up the pavilion, one sees their own reflection, not by itself but now amongst the landscape and others around the pavilion. Like the countless windows of virtual conferencing, this underlines the notion that we are not alone, but part of a bigger collective.

Our role as individuals are now visible to the landscape, pertinent to the collective resilience and action to the world. Like the glimpse of light amongst the moving mirrors, we need to persevere past our retrospection to change the fragile world as contemplated in this pavilion of reflection.