Architecture and Culture

Architecture and Culture

This is the Temple of Trajan at Pergamon overlooking the modern city of Bergama. Like most ancient places of worship, this grand temple is also located at the most dominant location in the surrounding landscape. Architecture is a good indicator of what is important for a given culture at a point in their history.

Historically, palaces and temples were the most spectacular buildings of their time, built on the most spectacular landscapes. The Prambanan and the Borobudur in Indonesia, the Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Potala Palace in Tibet, St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saint Basil's Cathedral in Russia, the Blue Mosque in Turkey, the Chichen Itza in Mexico are just a few examples. Now think of the New York skyline or the Philadelphia skyline. The most dominant and spectacular buildings are financial and commercial buildings. All over the world, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, architectural cityscapes are shaped by financial buildings, corporate headquarters and shopping centers.

Today, global corporate interests and short-term economical goals precede and dominate every aspect of life. They overshadow politics, nations, religions, culture, the environment, and most importantly people. Architecture reflects this, policy reflects this, media reflects this and behavior reflects this. The profane has replaced the sacred. Human beings now live to consume, find meaning in consumption, build self-confidence through the capacity to consume and look up to those who are apparently more able to consume. Twisted!
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