name that… you!

In honor to my son Jonah Jari Senna, a short history on his name. My son Jonah was born on Saint Joseph’s day in the year 2012 AD.

about Jari and Senna I will write later on.


Jonah, also written as  יוֹנָה, is the Hebrew word for dove, bringer of peace, symbol of love, of the holy spirit and of the soul.

Jonah was the boy who was brought back to life by Elijah, and one of the twelve so called minor prophets. He lived in the kingdom of Israel in the 8th century before Christ, and was born as son of Attamai, in Gath-hepher (2 kings 14:25), which was a few kilometers north of Nazareth. As a prophet he is active during the reign of Jeroboam II.

The story of Jonah is described in the book Jonah, where the word of the Lord comes to Jonah saying: Arise and go to the city of Nineveh and make an appeal to them to leave the evil before I (the Lord) will come to punish them. But Jonah flees to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord, away from his mission because of its overwhelming difficulty. He runs to Jaffa, where he finds a ship sailing to Tarshish, the opposite direction of Nineveh.

A huge storm arises and the sailors, realizing this is no ordinary storm, cast lots and discover that Jonah is to blame. Jonah admits this and states that if he is thrown overboard, the storm will cease. The sailors try to dump as much cargo as possible before giving up, but feel forced to throw him overboard, at which point the sea calms. The sailors then offer sacrifices to God. Jonah is miraculously saved by being swallowed by a large fish where he spends three days and three nights praying.

After those three days he arises from the fish and the Lord asks him again to go to Nineveh, and this time he goes. The people of Nineveh listen to Jonah and show remorse. Jonah does not like this and is angry with the Lord. Jonah leaves the city and makes himself a shelter, waiting to see whether or not the city will be destroyed. God causes a plant (Kikayon) to grow over Jonah’s shelter to give him some shade from the sun. Later, the Lord causes a worm to bite the plant’s root and it withers. Jonah, now being exposed to the full force of the sun, becomes faint and desires that the Lord takes him out of the world, which the Lord denies.

jonah and the gourd vine

The book of Jonah is read every year, in its original Hebrew and in its entirety on Yom-kippur. The story of Jonah can by the way also be read in the Qur’an, chapter 37 (As-Saaffat), verse 139–144.

In the New Testament, Gospel of Matthew, Jesus makes a reference to Jonah when he is asked for a miraculous sign by the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. Jesus says that the sign will be the sign of Jonah. Jesus implies that Jonah’s restoration after three days inside the great whale prefigures His own resurrection.


alternative history of architecture

Completely different from the short version of building/architecture I wrote earlier, here an alternative history, about how architecture is interpreted from early on till nowadays, architecture as ‘art’ of building.

Around 30-25 BC, Vitruvius wrote that a structure must exhibit the three qualities of firmitas, utilitas, venustas – that is, it must be solid, useful, beautiful. According to Vitruvius, architecture is an imitation of nature. As birds and bees built their nests, so humans constructed housing from natural materials, that gave them shelter against the elements. The architect should not only be aware of history, but also of the physical rules governing materials.  This Vitruvian trinity not only is about aesthetics, but rather elevates building into architecture. The transformation of a primitive hut into a temple reveals a historical move from undefined concepts to definite rules of symmetry.

When perfecting this art of building, the Greeks invented the architectural orders which gave them a sense of proportion, culminating in understanding the proportions of the greatest work of art: the human body, at its top in the renaissance (i.a. Leonardo da Vinci). Later on, Alberti suggests that the whole matter of building is composed of lineaments (design, aesthetics) and structure. This lineaments looks a lot like what Semper later calls ‘clothing’

Laugier describes (in 1753) building the primitive hut as follows:

some fallen branches in the forest are the right material for this purpose; he chooses four of the strongest, raises them  upright and arranges them in a square. Across their top he lays four other branches. On these he hoists from two sides yet another row of branches which, inclining towards each other, meet at their highest point. He then covers this kind of roof with leaves, so closely packed that neither sun nor rain can penetrate. Thus man is housed.

In this we see a division between the structure and the enclosure. This evolves in 1851 in Gottfried Semper’s writings in four elements in a house: first the hearth of the house, the fireplace, the symbolic middle of the house, where everyone can feel at ease and at home; second element is the roof/framework, third element is the enclosure, the facade, lightweight enclosing membrane, the clothing and the fourth element is the mound/earthwork, the site and foundation. The validity of this is borne out by vernacular building throughout the world, even if some of the elements once in a while go together.

Building, constructing is the core of architecture. Building gives the means and sets the frames for the design. Style is the coincidence of a structure with the conditions of its origins. Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright follow the analogy’s of Semper talking about texture of tiles, comparing it with old oriental rugs. Unlike Adolf Loos, Wright attempted to derive an authentic ornament from the process of fabrication.

Around the beginning of the  twentieth century Loos writes that modernity is a breach with tradition, because humans do not any longer have the same relationship with his surroundings as the farmer or craftsman. Therefore he breaks with the ornament and initiates the modern style, without ornaments.

During the first modern era, we see less ornaments, but still feeling for the frame, the skin and the foundations of buildings. Mies van de Rohe, Louis Kahn, Jørn Utzon, Carlo Scarpa, they all had their way of creating a balance between showing and hiding the construction, showing the skin and making a transparent skin, showing the joint and hiding the joint.  (tectonics and stereotomics)

More recently, we see the four points of Semper, and the thin line between building and ‘art’ of building in the works of Alvar Aalto, Santiago Calatrava, Herzog and De Meuron, Tadao Ando, etc, etc.


how did we get where we are??

Well, here is part 2 on architecture, about history and how cities became as redundant as they are at the moment. architecture going from a tradition to modern, to post modern, to abstract/sensitive and to where we are now!

Building as we know it started in ancient history,  after the first agricultural revolution round approximately 10.000 BC, in the Levant (Jericho), Anatolia (Çatal Hüyük) and Mesopotamia (Nineveh, Babylon).  In these days there was a transition of many human cultures from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement, what lead to the first villages and towns.

From there building evaluated through the Egyptian architecture (3000 BC – 1000 BC) (in america Maya culture) to the architecture of the classical ancient history, the Greeks and the Romans (1000 BC – 600 AD), the architecture of the middle ages and renaissance (600 AD – 1600 AD) and the baroque architecture (1600 AD – 1700 AD). After the baroque, we see a revival of the classic architecture. Building has become a tradition and usage.

From the end of the 18th century, a lot of changes in society were made by the declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen,  writing the first constitution, and in the 19th century the industrial revolution began. Changes became faster than tradition could bear.

Around 1900 a number of architects around the world began developing new architectural solutions to integrate traditional precedents with new social demands and technological possibilities. Some did this in a way we now call Jugendstil/Art Nouveau, others did this in the modern movement.

And that is where it becomes even more interesting! Tradition is left behind, a decent housing should be in reach for everybody (not only the rich), hygiene is important: everybody deserves a shower. This resulted (in the Netherlands) in building legislation,  standardization and industrialization in building, programs for housing for the millions and urban planning.

In architecture there was in the same period a strong call to leave the ‘neo’ styles and come to a new contemporary style. No longer a fancy facade, no more ornaments and no more coziness. More pureness, what you see is what you get. Form follows function and less is more becomes the motto. This results in a wide range of modern architecture by Mies vd Rohe, Peter Behrens, Berlage, Duiker and many others.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s a reaction comes to this style, a call for more meaning, smaller scale, more detailed architecture. It is what we call post-modernism. the motto changes from less is more to less is bore. do not make a shed or a decorated shed, build a duck. building is emotion, not only knowledge. In the 1980’s and 1990’s this results in a very abstract architecture style  and a more romantic and emotional style.

And that brings us where we are now, from my point of view, in the contemporary style of the beginning of third millennium where ratio and emotion, abstract and romantic architecture come together.