Where it all started
When I was an architecture student, I remember seeing in an old book a black and white photograph of the Parthenon as we know it today, that is, a temple profoundly damaged by wars, plundering, and the inexorable passage of time. As I gazed at the image, I thought: If only I had a time machine! I could go back 2500 years in time and behold this beautiful building intact, the statues of Phidias still adorning its façades, with their shimmering rainbows of vivid colors. If today it is an impressive ruin that has inspired generations of architects, what an impact this stunning work would have had during its period of greatest splendor!
For the Acropolis of Athens, at least there still remain some vestiges that it is possible to visit, and with a little effort one can imagine the grandeur of what it was in its day. However, the history of architecture is haunted by masterpieces that have been lost and will never return: The Larkin Building and Midway Gardens, both by Frank Lloyd Wright, and Sir John Soane’s Bank of England are works of architecture that changed the course of history but that for one reason or another disappeared forever, leaving at best only a handful of black and white photographs by which to remember them.
Works that never were
As if these weren’t enough, there is one last domain to be considered: those works that never came to be built but the strength of whose ideas was of such magnitude that only a few drawings were enough to change the thinking of a whole generation: the futurist images of Antonio Sant’Elia, Tatlin’s Tower, Étienne-Louis Boullée’s Cenotaph for Isaac Newton. What might have happened if these marvelous conceptions could have been realized? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had the opportunity to contemplate how these drawings were turned into actual works that could be visited and photographed?
The time machine
Technology has put into our hands a time machine that lets us travel to these monuments today, whether they ever existed in material form or not, and bring an image back to the present. It is a fascinating journey above all for myself, as I enjoy and learn more with each visit, but I hope it is for others as well, people like you, who have found your way to this blog.
Thus, all that remains is to offer you an invitation: Would you like to join me?