The Return of Sacred Architecture: The Golden Ratio and the End of Modernism
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An inspirational call for a return to the tenets of traditional architecture as a remedy for the dehumanizing standards of modern architecture
• Explains how modern architecture is emblematic of our current estrangement from the spiritual principles that shaped humanity’s greatest civilizations
• Reveals how the ancient laws of sacred proportion and harmony can be restored
The ugly buildings that characterize the modern landscape are inferior not only to the great cathedrals of medieval Europe and the temples of ancient Egypt and Greece, but even to lesser buildings of the more recent past. The great masterworks of our ancestors spoke to humanity’s higher nature. Architect Herbert Bangs reveals how today’s dysfunctional buildings bring out the worst in humanity, reinforcing that which is most base within us. He shows how, through the ancient laws of proportion and number, architecture once expressed the harmonious relationship between man and the cosmos. In early times, the architect worked within a sacred and esoteric tradition of creating structures through which human beings could gain insight into the nature of the divine reality. Today, that tradition has been abandoned in favor of narrowly defined utilitarian principles of efficiency and economy.
In The Return of Sacred Architecture, Bangs provides the key to freeing architecture from the crude functionality of the twentieth century: the architects of the modern human landscape must find the deep-felt connection to the cosmos that guided the inner lives of those who built the temples of the past. The form of their buildings will then reflect the sacred patterns of geometry and proportion and bring forth greater harmony in the world.
designed by Frank Furness at the height of the Victorian Gothic revival. This is not to say that fine buildings were not constructed, and that brilliant architects did not achieve magnificent solutions to the new architectural problems that were emerging with the rise of machine-age civilization. In every age there are artists who, through their peculiar genius, are able to transcend the social and intellectual conditions in which they grow and develop. It is the province of such gifted
second split the first. These are only two examples of the power, the certainty of the unconscious mind, made apparent in the simple tasks of tossing a bunch of keys and drawing a bow. The purpose of the Zen master, however, was not to teach his pupil to hit a target: he wanted him to learn to perform a simple task in harmony with the whole mind and, by so doing, alter and illuminate his life. Similarly, if architects could achieve that same spontaneous harmony as they work with compasses and
de Lubicz, perhaps the greatest philosopher of the twentieth century. (Photograph courtesy of Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont.) Those who delve into the ancient science will find that their first tentative efforts at incorporating meaningful geometric form into the design of a building can be astonishingly rewarding. With only a few principles in mind, architectural problems can be solved with remarkable and unexpected ease. The development of a design will sometimes flow
unconscious into material reality. This inspired flow of archetypal ideas is shaped and composed by the individual creative mind through which it passes. Mozart cannot explain why the ideas that come to him are “Mozartish,” nor is he concerned about whether or not they reflect his personality. I believe that this sublime unconcern is one reason for the profound beauty of his work. For Mozart, his reward was not fame, or public acclamation, or even the pleasure of composing, but instead the joy
principles incorporated into the structure. I foresee an architecture of the future that will combine the technical brilliance of Pei’s achievement with a “scientific” awareness of the significance of the sacred geometric principles that lie behind the ancient form. The New Architecture The attempt to explain the cosmos as a gigantic machine and our existence as an accident wrought a radical change in our conception of the nature of reality. It resulted in a decisive break with the