Prepared by Mohammad al-Asad and Dalia al-Husseini, 2003
In carrying out his readings of primary sources, Ozkan found a point of emergence in the development of architectural theory to be Antonio Filarete di Averlino's (c. 1400 - 69) Trattato d'Architettura (Treatise on Architecture). Filarete can be viewed as a philosopher, but also as an entertainer who entertained his patron Francesco Sforza, the Duke of Milan, with stories about his ideas. In a way, Filarete was sugarcoating his philosophical ideas. Filarete urged Sforza to build a city called Sforzinda. Sforzinda supposedly had a port that allowed it to converse and interact with the sea. It also was a hilltop town with a cathedral located at the top of the hill. Filarete clearly was more or less selling his ideas through a powerful Renaissance-period ruler. He also questions the roots of architecture. Being a Christian, he believed in the story of Adam and Eve, and based much of his ideas on Adam being expelled from paradise and his subsequent fall to earth, completely in the nude, without Eve. Adam then built a basic structure to protect himself and to ensure his survival. Ozkan explained that Filarete speculates his theory of architecture from this point onwards through giving pragmatic rules on the evolution of the first primitive shelter. However, he subsequently moves on to a completely different setup, which is Sforzinda as a utopian setting. Ozkan points out that as a result, we observe in Filarete's work three of the categories he related, the iconic, pragmatic, and utopic.
Ozkan went on to Alberti, a contemporary of Filarete. Alberti was a practicing architect and a theoretician. He makes analogies between architecture and music, as well as with other endeavors of an aesthetic value, while also giving abstract information on the canons of architecture. The Renaissance was the age of humanism in which the human being played a most central role. The human being was considered the perfection of God's creation. It followed that this perfect creation should be the basis for everything we generate. The basic Aristotelian forms of square, circle, or even the more sophisticated types of diagonal relationships were based on the human body, and have been viewed as the appropriate sources for the genesis of information. Ozkan added that this also is evident in Le Corbusier's "modulor," for Le Corbusier wanted to explain everything through the human body and the proportions derived from it.
Ozkan observed that in the 16th century, there was a continuation of the Vitruvian tradition of perpetuating Greco-Roman building traditions in the theoretical form. These traditions were never questioned, only praised.
Later in the 16th century Andrea Palladio (1508 - 80) homogenized the existing architectural discourse. To Ozkan, this constitutes the first modern movement. Palladio stripped most of the unessential aspects of a building and presented the components of the building as easily repeatable forms. Also, through his Quattro Libri dell'Architettura (Four Books on Architecture), he formalized how each and every aspect of architecture must be, can be, or should be addressed. Almost contemporary to Palladio is Philibert de l'Orme (c. 1500 - 1570), who can be viewed as his French equivalent. Ozkan presented two engravings from de l'Orme's Le premier Tome de l'Architecture (figure 1). The engravings both can be referred to as caricatures. The first engraving shows a "bad" architect. He is blind and with no hands. The architecture behinds him is Romanesque and is presented as brutal in character. The sky is cloudy, the animals are dead, and the environment is very discouraging, all of which he relates to the Lombards. In contrast, the second engraving relates the "good" architect from Florence, which represents the sophistication of the Renaissance. The good architect is surrounded by people conversing with him; even the weather is pleasant; the trees are blossoming, and the architecture is well proportioned. Ozkan noted that although he referred to the engravings as caricatures, they are much more serious than that. They show how seriously the architectural profession was taken. He added that some influential people - like The Aga Khan, Georges Pompidou, and François Mitterand - expect architects to have the power to change the world. Through the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Aga Khan has put in a system that aims at influencing clients, decision-makers, and politicians to give more power to architecture. Ozkan emphasized that these engravings are in a way an assertion of the claim being made regularly that architects should have the power to define much of the environment in which we live.
The same period saw the appearance of works on architecture in England, which were greatly influenced by the Italian Renaissance, but also expressed a number of highly original concepts. John Shute (d. 1563), for instance, wrote the first book on architecture in English, The First and Chief Groundes of Architecture. This work was also the first in the history of architecture to pair semantic categories with architectural form. Consequently, Shute saw the Tuscan order as crude and the Doric order as even cruder (figure 2). Men in the figures symbolized these orders. In contrast, his drawings of Ionic (figure 3) and Corinthian orders, which are represented by women, are intended to express elegance, proportion, and sophistication. Shute then makes the assertion that the Composite order more or less represents perfection (figure 4). It is noted that Shute defines elegance as female beauty and brutalism as male crudity, a definition that is very widespread, if not almost universal.
Ozkan added that as we reach the 16th century, it is noticed that the Renaissance had reached its maturity, and somewhat more abstract thinking came into being. Ozkan gave Sebastiano Serlio (1475 - 1554) as an example. The perception of a building according to Serlio can be put into perspective and diminishing proportions due to the eye-level of the person. Serlio then projected that the way a building is seen depends on vision and eye-level (figure 5). This approach, explained Ozkan, puts buildings into stage format, and projects them as an experiential entity.
Ozkan went on to explain that the 17th century witnessed an increase in abstraction in the representation of theoretical material. With the maturity of the Renaissance, works of architecture represented high levels of accomplishment. In the Islamic world, this is around the same time at which the Taj Mahal, Suleymaniye, and Selimiye were built, and which expressed equal levels of architectural accomplishment. However, we lack significant written information on these great monuments. Ozkan mentions that a number of Turkish treatises on architecture do exist, but they primarily tackled the physicality of a building for "accounting" purposes (i.e. to calculate costs of materials and labor), but did not approach the theoretical aspects of it. Consequently, Islamic resources are very much lacking when it comes to architecture. (5)
As a representative of the 17th century, Ozkan gave an example of the French Claude Perrault (1613 - 88). Perrault associated entablatures and profiles of buildings with human beings, again giving them an aesthetic quality or elegance, as he sees it (figure 6). In this way, an entablature or frieze carried out in a certain profile would have direct perceptual associations with the human figure as profile.