Jonathan Phillips
An architecture of silver olive leaves and stands of poplar trees,
of sage and wild thyme. Of jasmine lingering on salt saturated air,
of scorpions and the wine-dark sea. Of silence…
“Silence is like fertile soil, which, as it were, awaits our creative act,” says Arvo Pärt. “But on the other hand, silence must be approached with a feeling of awe.”
In my architectural work I have cast about for an architecture of silence, which is to say an architecture that does not get in the way of life – one that declines to participate in the perpetual dialectic, ambition, motion, and commotion of modern existence and modern consumption. I have pursued an agnostic architecture that respects the will of people to create their own lives, a local, time-bound act for which physical, environmental, and economic security are categorical precursors.
Real life takes place in relational rather than physical space, or – in the words of Martin Buber – “in the Between (im Dazwischen), the seemingly empty space … between man and man” or man and nature. Turning vogue philosophies of the democratization of architecture on end, I suggest it is a matter of primum non nocere: that architectural design should not confound the natural liminality of space which, as sociologist Peter Bearman writes, is “rich with interactive possibilities.”
And so I find my reflections returning to Western Anatolia... to my own allegory of the silence of place. To an elemental humanism that sublimates the self-important humanism of the twentieth-century. To where the dignity of human toil and resilience and ecstasy – the natural place of mankind on earth – are echoed in the windswept olive groves – half-wild, half-cultivated.
"Life," as Hermann Czech put it, “is not architecture."