The conclusions of this book on quadralectic architecture, as they are presented here, have to be modest. The overview of a particular type of building, with its focus on the four-fold, does not try to prove anything – because there simply is nothing to prove beyond doubt. The intrinsic neutrality of quadralectic thinking prevents any bold statement with regards to the intentions of builders or the frame of mind of the architects. There can only be a feeling of recognition, or the hind of a possibility.
One cannot help noticing that an element of the multitude plays a crucial role in (historic) occurrences of buildings with tetradic references, as chosen in this book. Communal structures like temples, churches, hospitals, prisons and monuments have their roots in the direct participation of the ‘masses’ (or community in the sense of the Greek polis). These buildings can be described as ‘people places’, geared towards the needs of society. Their different functions are centered in the need to express and safeguard human emotions in its widest sense. The quadralectic way of thinking is useful if life becomes complicated and communication seems to come from all sides. It is a way of ordering the many possibilities, which come into view.
Quadralectic architecture aims to accommodate the manifold and many sides of the narrative of life within a system of unity. It is, as such, a very elementary disposition, which is not the prerogative of architecture alone. The ultimate dream of an architect is the search for a living environment, which includes a kaleidoscopic view of reality, and is interconnected by a common way of (division) thinking, providing the unity of the concept. The writing of the walls, as Anthony VIDLER (1987) called his book on architecture in the Enlightenment, makes sense if the intentions of architects and builders are placed within a proper context. The walls are telling a story, which can only be understood if we speak the language of the builders and comprehend the ‘ars quadrataria’.
The landscape has been an inspiration for many architectural features, although not always on a gradual scale. Ideas and motives linger on in the mind of creative people throughout the ages. And when they are captured in building materials like stone, wood, concrete or glass they provide a visibility, which can be judged accordingly. Hirschfeld’s ‘Theory of Garden Art’ (1779/1785) was probably the apotheosis of a certain type of visibility running through garden design from the Ancient to the Moderns. The ‘Hanging Gardens’ of Babylon, the Persian Gardens, the Greek Gardens and the villas and gardens of the Romans – all with their own significance and grandeur – merged into the European consensus of landscape garden art at the end of the eighteenth century.
The present observer, living some two hundred years after the crucial events related to the beginning of the Fourth Quadrant (1800), is able to place the past in an understandable frame. The European cultural entity has, at this very moment, the knowledge to establish its own position and achievements. It has no excuses to escape from the moral responsibilities associated with this knowledge. It can look back on older civilizations like the Egyptians, Greeks or Romans with the wisdom its own experience. The stages they went through are also our stages. Their ignorance is also our ignorance, their achievements are our achievements and their failure is our failure, their misdoings are our misdoings.
The Egyptians had their long established tetradic history, which was little understood by (European) researchers operating in a dualistic-oppositional context. Now, in the light of higher division thinking, their intentions become clearer, their devotion more understandable. Their funerary cult was based on an everlasting presence, which is very much akin to the quadralectic outlook. The only measure in this timeless being was the conscious appreciation of visibility, either visible or invisible.
The tetradic approach in architecture, epitomized in the pyramid, is the best vehicle to understand this recurrent attention to the visible. The ancient Egyptians understood that ‘tetradic thinking’ was, in essence, a peaceful and economic effort, directed to timeless visibility. That spirit was their motivation – and it turned out to be a useful one. Sometimes one may wonder, if the recent achievements of the European cultural history, with its emphasis on a worldwide communication network, will stand the rigors of time. What will be left when all the magnetic information, stored on millions of computers evaporates in the great gravitational field of the earth?
The Greek temples, being the visible representatives of another great culture, pose challenges of a different kind. These buildings hardly give any reference to a tetradic world, other than the quadrigas on their roof. Why did the Greek not leave a legacy of visible tetradic architecture in the same way as the Egyptians did in their pyramids (and to a lesser degree in their temples)? What were their ideas during the Age of Pericles, when most of the temples and great buildings were conceived? This virtual absence of tetradic features in architecture – apart from some tholos-type of buildings and the (later) Ionian types of temples – is one of the great enigmas of the Greek cultural period.
The Greek philosophers, on the other hand, make up for the lack of tetradic features in architecture. They ventured with their thoughts into all directions of the mind. Empodocles had fixed the four basic parts of nature early in the visibility period. Probably, he had taken his ideas from the medical world. Aristotle, in the height of Greek cultural visibility, had introduced the four causes (enteleichia) in a dynamic world and can truly be regarded as a ‘tetradic’ philosopher. And Epicures, towards the end of an unsurpassed philosophical development, had summarized the fourfold in the tetrapharmacon, a guideline for healthy mental living.
However, what happened to the tetradic architects and builders? Maybe, they just applied the knowledge as it was supplied by the philosophers. They realized that the numerological aspects of a building (like the number of its columns, etc.) was just a small and insignificant element in the full appreciation of the architectonic reality as seen in a building.
The Romans founded their existence as a culture in a straightforward way of living, based largely on a combination of force and practical knowledge. The Roman Empire became an ‘international’ organization, which reached a level of competence, which was hardly ever seen before (probably with the exception of some periods in the Persian and Chinese cultural history). Emperors were able to send their troops to the most distant regions of the empire to combat revolts. Goods and ideas were brought back and incorporated in the Roman way of living. Spiritual ideas and cultural achievements of other countries were imported, just like material goods, and consumed in much the same way. The Romans might not have been very original themselves, but they knew how to rework the achievements of others (which is a quality in its own right).
The great ‘tetradic’ builders of the Roman Empire were the emperors Hadrian and Septimus Severus in the second and third century AD. They left a trail of tetradic inspired buildings all over Europe and the borders of the Mediterranean, from the bathhouses of England to the exceptional buildings in Lepcis Magna (Libya), Baalbek (Lebanon) and Palmyra (Syria). Most of the buildings of this ‘Golden’ period had some sort of tetradic hallmark, either in the form of their ground plan or in the division of ceilings, walls or doors. There are indications that the dedication to the ‘quadriformis’ increased towards the end of their cultural visibility.
The Mayas and Incas in Middle and South America are known for their devotion towards a four-fold universe. Their buildings reflect that dedication. Their cultural centers, spreading in time from around 1000 BC to the highlights of the Classic Period from 200 – 1200 AD, show – in all their diversity and uniqueness – a remarkable consistency regards the type of division thinking. There is a great variability of the iconographic themes, and it is true that ‘much of the monumental architecture visible today was largely the result of building ‘booms’ initiated by unusually vigorous rulers’ (WEBSTER, 1988). However, their general theme seemed to be a search for ‘quadriformism’, preferably captured in stone.
The Hindu and Buddha temples in India and the Far East are one of the examples of higher division thinking put into practice. Many of their temples follow the tetradic ground plan for their guidance, often with details adorned with sculpture. The Buddhist temple – with a noticeable concentration in the Pagan area of Myanmar (Burma) – is a tribute to the four-fold way of building. The Ankhor Vat complex in Cambodia is rooted in four-fold symbolism, which might only be surpassed by the Burubudur complex on the island of Java (Indonesia). The religious Hindu temple complex of Prabanam, situated close to the latter locality, is in all its architectural richness also a celebration of tetradic outlines and notions.
Christianity, under the guidance of the Roman Catholic Church, has a long tradition of an attention towards the cross and equality. However, the original message of peace and brotherhood was not always administered to in history. Christianity has a history of fighting, war and destruction, on the one hand, and devotion and high spirited thoughts, on the other hand (DELISLE BURNS, 1947). The Christian-Jewish belief has firm roots – just like the Islam, which entered the world scene some six hundred years later – in a dualistic setting, which finds its origin in the Middle East. The area of Iran/Persia is the undisputed heartland of oppositional thinking. This tension has resulted – besides human misery – in a long history of art and beauty, which can still be appreciated today.
Europe’s ‘Golden Age’ – lasting in a quadralectic interpretation from around 1650 to 1800 – is a time of wealth and material exuberance and points to a Third Quadrant setting rather than to the four-fold. This situation explains the tension in the Christian belief. While the visible aspect – the identity – is the actual matter that ‘counts’ (in the Third Quadrant), it is the invisible aspect of higher division thinking, which give the depth and contents in a communication. The message of visible visibility, of power and dominance, implies a reduction of division thinking. To make something visible is to reduce its context.
The general conclusion of this book contains a philosophical component to which the German philosopher Martin Heidegger pointed the way. What we see is not the whole thing. However, ‘the rest’ is not an incomprehensible presence. It can be mapped in the same way as Magelhean did when he circumvented the earth. In the end, there is no escape from space, or from architecture, or from us. There is no innocent observation anymore. The very moment our consciousness is prepared to draw boundaries, also means a statement in the field of division thinking.
The message of quadralectic architecture is, at heart, a basic one: think in four types of visibilities at the same time. A building will reveal – and give answers to – the notions an observer puts into the building. There is the mystery of its presence in the first place, with its hidden reasons for being. Its visibility came out of nothing and will return to nothing, but the presence of that nothingness is essential for its being. Without the barren space of invisibility (I) there would be no building at all.
In the second place, there are the ideas, which encircle a building as a royal crown. Out of the nothingness emerge the intentions as a mirage of possibilities. Any building is surrounded by ideas, not only by its designers and creators, but also by its onlookers and critics. They mingle and disperse like clouds in the sky. The presence of the invisible visibilities (II) sticks to a building like dew in the morning and adds to its appearance. Any onlooker should be aware of their glittering existence.
The building in its physical appearance is, in one way, the easiest position to understand, but on the other hand, the most difficult to interpret. Visible visibility (III) offers the familiar power of recognition in the oppositional field: this building is something (measurable) and not something else. But this empirical certainty hides the intertwined assumption of lower division thinking, which means that the value of its observations is only applicable in the realm of dualism.
Finally, a building can be viewed in the context of a partnership between the observer and the observed in an ongoing communication. Understanding the universal setting of this relationship is what quadralectic architecture is all about.