For this semester, I have a term assignment for History of Architecture course. It’s about writing an article. Actually, it is going to be like a thesis (but not) that’s why it’s very important experience for me. It has to be more serious rather than the articles that I wrote before. So, I have to study and search more on my topic. We were expected to choose a chapter from the book which is ‘’ A History of Architecture’’ by Spiro Kostof.
First of all, I want to mention about this great architecture historian. Spiro Kostof was born in Istanbul but he is Greek origin. First, he studied in Robert College in Istanbul. Then, he graduated from Yale University. He was a professor at the University of California in Berkeley for many years. He really interested in architectural history. He emphasized urbanism, arcitecture and phsical and social context of that kind of works. He is an appreciated historian. His lectures was very famous and he was really capable as lecturer.’ A history of architecture’ is an amazing textbook. He wrote about Rome, Venice, Constantinople (Istanbul), Mexico, U.S, Egypt and then some others. Actually in the beginning, his profession was about early period of Christianity and Constantinople. And the chapter that I chose is about exactly these eras.
So, let’s talk about my chapter which is ‘’The Triumph of Christ’’. It contains 3 parts: The Turning Point: Third-Century Rome, Housing the Kingdom of Heaven and The Conversion of Constantine. I chose this chapter, because I have interested in both Roman and Constantinople Architecture. So, this chapter has these periods. While I was reading that, some topics were really interested to me.
This chapter starts with depressed times of Rome. In the last times of Rome emperors concerned about defensing their countries. Then architectural sturctures were about that. For example, some walls were built in that period. Also, five good emperors of Rome were mentioned in these parts. Hadrian (emperor from 117 to 138 AD) is one of them. Actually, the field of sculpture in Rome started to change with portraits of Hadrian. In the past, there wasn’t any emotion on the faces of emperors’ portraits. Very important thing was mentioned here.’’ Philosopher Plotinus claims that beauty resides not in the body but in the soul and in the soul’s yearning toward the universal soul of God. – ‘ Ugly is that which has no soul’ ‘’ I really liked that. Especially, Both Hadrian and his architectural things are emotional. For instance, Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli has important values about his love: Antinous. By the way, traditions were seemed on the structures about Hadrian. That caught my attention much. Besides, in this chapter, it is mentioned how religion was reflected to the Roman architecture in this period. In last times of Rome, the country was falling. Then, many architectural structures started to lose their significance. Therefore, architectural and artistic attempts went towards to the East-Rome. After that first Christianity Architecture started to seem. There are some information about important public basilicas which were constructed with ordered arches,posts,columns and high walls and other structures like Hagia Sophia. Their structural processes and significance were talked about. By the way, in the constantinople times, basilicas were syntheses of east and west.
Finally, after I read the whole chapter, I decided to study on Hadrian and write about him. Because the examples about Emperor Hadrian that are given in this chapter were interested to me much as I mentioned before. Afterthat, I searched about him a little. Then I realized that there are many architectural things for him. Many temples, walls, gates, pavilions were built in many places. And I want to understand why he is really important emperor for Rome and it’s architecture. Why people constructed many things for him? Besides, I want to find out his architectural importance in the meaning of social, cultural and technical.
Kostof, Spiro. A History of Architecture, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010