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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On 3:14 PM by Rachel Preston Prinz in
From: The Sense of Unity: The Sufi Tradition in Persian Architecture
<An unpublished book of Murshid Samuel L. Lewis I have been lucky enough to have been gifted.>

There is so much about architecture that is sacred. And so much that has been lost.
I believe that this Sufi text offers a glimpse into the divine, as it is revealed in architectural forms.

"The shapes used in architecture are inseparable from the traditional concepts of mathematics, particularly geometry and the geometric forms... the purely quantitative conception of mathematics prevalent since the Renaissance has forced into oblivion the symbolic and qualitative mathematics ...from the Hermetic and Pythagorean trends of medieval (and previous) intellectual life. Geometric forms and numbers are not just what they appear to be quantitatively. They also have a qualitative and symbolic aspect that, far from being imaginary, is, to say the least, at least as much a part of their reality as their quantitative side. Each number and figure, when seen in its symbolic sense, is an echo of Unity and a reflection of a quality contained within that Unity. 

The Square...is not just a square. It is also the symbol of stability and completion... 

The octagonal form... is not just an architectural device to enable an architect to place a dome upon a square base, but a reflection of ...divine form.... 
(which, in the Islamic tradition, is a throne held up by 8 angels) 

The dome is not just a way to cover (space)... it is a reflection of the (heavens... or Spirit, who are represented by the circle or sphere). Throughout traditional architecture, geometric shapes are more than just technical devices... (they) remind man of ... spiritual principles."

"In Islamic architecture, the color white represents the divine.
Always below white, is black, representation of nothingness.
Black, in this tradition, is only dark because of the intensity of its light.
Then we find the colors - of the earth, the sky, the water, and fire...
These, used together within geometric space, remind the viewer of their place, their moment in time, their connection to both everything, and nothing."

......end of excerpt......

I was talking to an old architect friend the other day and noting that I find that many of my projects are benefited by structuralist studies of the ruins I am working in. (more on structuralist studies coming later...) and I wondered, if one of Frank Gehry's buildings were to fall into ruin, what an archaeologist would say about the structure when she came upon it. There is no order, no form... no magic of the type mentioned here. Would they say "this is a society that had much and said little"? Would they think we valued strangeness? Would they find a titanium plate from the exterior and wonder why on earth would we build a building that could fly through space but was attached to the ground?

When you are designing, think about what you might actually be saying to those that come after you. Think about form, function, and presence. Think about inspiration. Even think about art. But, if you want to be really great at design, think mostly about how to describe how you approach these ideals. Because believe it or not, they DO matter, and someday, if you are really lucky and make it big, you will get asked...

Happy designing!
Hope you have a great day!