While cement shatters across Quebec, Charlemagne’s late 8th-century chapel in Aachen Cathedral still stands firm. Perhaps we could go there and say a prayer to our Lady of Reinforced Concrete that our bridges, overpasses and underground slabs keeping buildings out of subways will last 1/20th as long.
In The Story of Architecture Patrick Nuttgens calls Charlemagne’s chapel “The best example of what is called Carolingian architecture.” I don’t know if there’s much competition in that field. But it is magnificent: massive, sombre yet somehow uplifting, and built to last both physically and morally. Wouldn’t it be weird to be surrounded by stuff like that?
Parts of the main ancient Roman sewer remain in use. And Egypt’s Great Pyramid at Giza, the tallest building in the world for 40 centuries until eclipsed by the spire of Lincoln cathedral, still radiates mysterious serenity. A modern building is lucky to hold the title of world’s tallest for 40 months or be worth looking at for 40 seconds while it does. Continue Reading →
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