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Where Sky Rubs Against Soil: The Metaphorical Horizon in Dom.

Hans van der Laan’s Architecture
William T Willoughby, Louisiana Tech University
“Where the bottom layer of the sky rubs up against the top horizon of the soil, all terrestrial life is found.” -- William Bryant Logan, Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth (New York: Riverhead Books, 1995) 178

The work and writings of Benedictine monk Dom. Hans van der Laan (1904-1991) are concerned with the origins of architecture. Hans van der Laan suggests architecture has lost touch with its origins. Thirty years of attempts at rediscovering the primeval foundations of architecture led to the book Architectonic Space, published in Dutch in 1977, and in English in 1983. His contributions to architecture in the twentieth century are still relatively unknown and overlooked; and yet Hans van der Laan’s lessons on architectural making are worthy of consideration. The purpose of this essay is to explore and extend the metaphorical themes of this teacher/author/architect. Hans van der Laan was born in 1904, in Leiden, Holland to the architect Leonard van der Laan; Hans was the ninth of eleven children. Two of his brothers, the oldest (Jan) and youngest (Nico), became architects as well. “It was in collaboration with his brother Nico that Hans would carry our most of his work as architect, teacher, and theorist.”1 After a year of therapy for tuberculosis, which required whole days outdoors on camp beds in the fresh air, Hans van der Laan began his studies at Delft in 1923. By 1927, and well into his third year of architectural studies, Hans van der Laan gave up architecture for the monastic life. He was critical of the teaching at the Technical University of Delft; he sensed an absence of fundamental principles and a lack of an internal, cumulative body of architectural knowledge. Thus, he entered as a novice in the Benedictine order. Between 1939 and 1972 he developed a summation of architectural research from a combination of research for his lecture course and buildings designed in collaboration with his brother Nico, and later Nico’s sons Hans and Rik. A group of former students and followers, the so-called Bossche School, formed around his teachings and buildings. He published two books from his lectures, The Plastic Number (1960) and Architectonic Space (1977). In 1982, he arranged an exhibition of his work, including demonstration-models of key concepts from his books. His final book, Het vormenspieil der liturgie, was published in 1985. In 1989, he was awarded the Limburg Architecture Prize. Dom. Hans van der Laan died August 19th 1991.

The Importance of Origins
An origin is a singular occurrence. A thing’s origin may take thousands of years, while other origins occur in a momentary flash of confluent circumstance and inspiration. There is a certainty to a time in the historical past when a thing came into being. Yet origins share a subtle relationship to the recurrent nature of beginnings.2 Origins, when complete, can never be retained; thus, origins are unknowable. They are subject to theoretical speculation, shaped by current human understanding, and dependent on belief in a certain story or myth concerning how things began. A search for origins always touches on the metaphorical. According to Christian belief, the visible world has its origins when God the Creator drew it forth, in all its diversity and order, out of nothingness.3 All that exists is owed to God. All of nature, including human history, is constituted by this original event. God creates out of nothing; but human creation relies on pre-existent matter. All human making is a refashioning of nature by human action and intellect.4 The natural universe can be understood as a miraculous “image of the invisible God,”5 destined for and addressed to humanity. Another gift of God, human intelligence, can understand what wisdom and order God puts forth through the natural universe. God’s wisdom and intelligence can be understood by humanity, though not without great effort, respect, and humility toward God and Creation. From the Wisdom of Solomon, “For it is he who gave me unerring knowledge of what exists, to know the structure of the world and the activity of the elements; . . . for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me.”6 Thus human making, when approached and completed in awe of the wisdom and goodness God’s creation, can serve to reveal God’s plan. As Dom. Hans van der Laan states, “The first question in architecture is not therefore, what we make of the house, or what kind of house we make, but the making as such.” For Hans van der Laan, architecture is always a rhapsodic matter of construction. In this sense, construction does not mean what we make from or what kind of thing we make, but what of making itself? What is basic to, and inseparable from, human making? As Hans van der Laan states, “Human making is of great significance for creation as a whole, because it gives an image within nature, of

Where Sky Rubs Against Soil: The Metaphorical Horizon in Dom. Hans van der Laan’s Architecture William T Willoughby, Louisiana Tech University

According to Hans van der Laan. clothing and housing – are refined and reshaped from nature and made suitable by human intellect and action. All forms and spaces created by humans are extracted from the vast and extended space and mass of nature – brought about by a creating and unlimited intelligence. Thus. And thus the natural world and all things within it are a creation of God’s order and intellect. appears to be “elliptical. and moreover. but dependent on natural creation. the world we humans create for ourselves is an addition to the natural world. We do not make a space.”7 To paraphrase Hans van der Laan – architecture. and van der Laan When we speak of architectural origins. we must consult the idea and myth of the primitive hut. we construct definable horizons of our own making. but extract it from the space of nature. which combines human invention with a natural model.”15 Where Sky Rubs Against Soil: The Metaphorical Horizon in Dom. For Hans van der Laan. a completion of the natural world made habitable by us. “Let us never lose sight of our little hut. it is the manner by which humans create that reflects. Vitruvius is skeptical of the completeness of origins. an independent phenomenon. a little hut. the image of God as Creator. Our human existence forms limits within the limitless. God’s intelligence and intervention creates and sustains the infinitude of Creation. this human world has dual purpose: to confront nature outside with an according toughness. this extraction is brought about by solid elements which are themselves drawn from the masses of the earth.9 A monk of the Benedictine order. step by step. material is extracted from nature in order to build. like nature. God’s Creation. In a limited way. human intelligence and intervention creates and sustains a limited human creation. Hans van der Laan’s Architecture William T Willoughby. Thus. and inside with the opposite. as a form of human making. bread.2 nature’s own origin. a monument to an ideal past. etc.” He excludes all other elements (vault.14 Architecture becomes allegorical myth.” (Sirach 29:21)8 These human necessities – potable water. origins do not show perfection.” He supports this statement with a quote from the Bible that concerns home and hospitality. He concludes that architecture’s origin commences the discussion of his second book. For him.) as secondary and consequential -. and within it. he sees the original parts (column. Hans van der Laan defines two actions the human undertakes in the making of architecture – humans extract from and add to the natural world through the creation of architecture. “The essentials for life are water and bread and clothing and a house to cover ones nakedness. leading to a treatment of “how it [the building art] was fostered. human making must always resonate back to the origin of nature. door. According to Hans van der Laan.”11 The Origins of Architecture – Vitruvius. created intelligence” (that belonging to humanity) and an “unlimited. Laugier dictates. and pediment) as essential “to the cause of beauty. Both Rykwert and Summerson drive home the point that Laugier saw three elements as original and thus constituent to the ideal building – columns carrying the entablature. Much like a pair a sandals crafted to protect the feet. pedestal. attic.10 Hans van der Laan’s position begins with an image of the limited human creating within the unlimited creation of nature. creating intelligence” (that belonging to God).added by necessity or caprice.”13 Laugier imagined an original architecture. entablature. Hans van der Laan made a distinction between a “limited. window. by analogy. The account by Vitruvius concerning the emergence of architecture. but human intellect and action are added to nature by human making. is a metaphor – an imitation – of the order of Creation. and neither are all qualities yet in evidence. “The house is among the first things a person needs to maintain their existence in nature. a representational “retelling” of archaic practices in permanent form. according to Rykwert. As he states. which in turn carries the pediment or roof. Laugier securely embraces architecture’s ideal origins. Yet Vitruvius makes us aware (and assuages criticism) of his conscious decision to place his origin of the building art in his second book and not his first. Hans van der Laan obviously shared belief in the existence and authority of God. Obviously. to create an environment fitted to human comfort. Interestingly. “For our making is not. And how it made progress. and references are made to various other writings. God’s Creation – The Human in Nature As Hans van der Laan states in his first lesson. it is through the similarities and differences conjured by the above analogy that we begin to see the placement of human making as within nature. Unlike Vitruvius. Laugier.”12 The Vitruvian account was assembled from observation of existent primitive (or barbaric) examples of his time and literary sources that comment on the origins of art and civilization (Seneca and Lucretius). since all the branches of learning and study are not yet represented. human making (always in imitation of the Creator) transforms the natural world. until it reached its present perfection. Louisiana Tech University .

when originally liberated from surface. . A reader might assume his writings are the naive voice of a believer of the sacred. . . . . and by extension. They exist as easily in the present as they might have in the primordial past. Height. the only thing that kept you firmly in the universe. “and nothing solid without earth. the intellect has need of an instrument.” the ‘how-many-ness’ of things we count on the basis of their unity. His “origins” are derived from simple observation of the natural world around him. and thus lack effect in a predominantly secular world. continuous quantities: numbers – which represent. the middle one between any two that are either solids (cubes?) or squares is Where Sky Rubs Against Soil: The Metaphorical Horizon in Dom. includes size. .Number. The outline of form can be understood by the intellect through measure (the appraisal of size). Proportional Order and the Trilithon Hans van der Laan’s attempt to rediscover the origins of architecture have led him to observe the natural world with a simple intensity similar to that of the ancient Greeks.” 19 Furthermore. Length.” The subsequent premise suggests the principle of proportion implicit in the three-dimensionality of solids: “And of all the bonds the best is that which makes itself and the terms it connects a unity in the fullest sense. For Hans van der Laan number. Inquiry into Pythagoras’ number doctrine produces a remarkable similarity to Hans van der Laan’s revelation of how the first qualities of form. . The floor had its own thickness of earth and the dimensions of the wall of the cave stopped at the beginning of the sea. We can translate this grasp of number into a certain grasp of size. In the body of the text.’”17 What Hans van der Laan discusses is the establishment of a unit of measure – which is connected to discrete. hacked in one rectangular volume. The greatest poetic manifestation in limited form. and it is of the nature of a continued geometrical proportion to effect this most perfectly. The story of you and I again standing on the plain. “A few natural pebbles and a few squared pieces of stone have helped us arrive at these insights . of three numbers. This is because it only has direct access to “discrete quantity. measure are basic instruments of induction – the passage from certain qualities within the natural world. . As he puts it. The only ultimate was the killed animal outside the cave mouth.”18 Hans van der Laan’s view of architecture’s origin is echoed by Sverre Fehn in his essay “How our Dimensions are Born:” “In the beginning the cave and the earth itself were the dimensions of the cave. [a definition of the continuity of surface – author’s insert] “In reality there was no defined dimension when your comprehension of the world carried infinity within it. How incomprehensible the work of creation in a limited malleable quantity must have been. that is.3 For Hans van der Laan. Time was given a dimension . numeric proportions remain fundamental to the origins of form. . [See figure 1] As Hans van der Laan states. Plato’s mythic Demiurge assembles the body of the universe – tangibility is observably impossible without something solid. . “I have no idea how many years went by before “the autonomous” dimension was born in front of the cave mouth . [See figure 2] Hans van der Laan’s origin of architecture extends from the initial measuring-out of form as distinguished from surface – “Where a piece of stone is removed from the earth there arises automatically a spatial form that corresponds like a matrix to the solid form of the stone. We can hold only a limited number of these relations in our mind. Each number then expresses the quantity by its relation to this unit and we can give this relation a name: two. three. The first security. origins are more prosaic.”16 Yet his simple and unsophisticated observations accumulate and later develop into a metaphor that relates architecture and human intelligence to the cosmos. to the intellect. a quantity with relation to a basic unit or size-interval. An abode was sought in the nature of the animal. but by means of an established number-system we can extend them into infinity . The Origins of Construction -. Louisiana Tech University . Width. in this case size – into a quantity (a measure) which can be understood by the human intellect. And that animal corpse was resurrected on the walls of the cave. of continuous quantity or ‘how-muchness. . the first written sign in the landscape resting secretively in the hewn stone. four . . Hans van der Laan’s Architecture William T Willoughby. in Plato’s Timaeus. Measure. Size connotes an intellectual distinction between the continuous quantity of surface and the discrete quantity of form. The writings of Hans van der Laan can be read with an air of dismissive obviousness. the stone. “ . For whenever.

”22 And on another occasion. and we can speak of infinite division. Yet the horizon-bound and finite reality of humanity is penetrated by the infinite. but also a parallel relation – an analogy . Humans create finite instruments to bring measure to and gauge their universe. as in the universe of elements consists of infinite variety. Standing upright. . . is creating. image. derived through inductive observation of nature and presented in a simple construction of three stone-forms that make up an elementary wall. and intervals to its parts. . and subsequently make an artificial world (art) for ourselves within the Creation. The difference between the things of nature and of art is as great as that between the intelligences from which they spring: in one case an infinite. due to its innate curvature falls away from our view. The contrast between the mass Where Sky Rubs Against Soil: The Metaphorical Horizon in Dom. and by so doing they will all make a unity. are created. circumscribing our view. Nor is his original architecture a hypothetical “little hut” which presents an image of essential architectural elements to be imitated and monumentalized by all subsequent architecture (Laugier). and again the last and first become middle. . Thus the metaphysical. as creatures within the universe. and measure to observe. a line takes shape. or limited boundary. created nature to the unlimited creating intelligence . our intelligence requires the finitude of number. Humans. We can speak of infinite extension. “ The primary dyad art-nature flows from the very [constitution] of our being . Hans van der Laan proposes an architecture of wall construction. then since the middle becomes first and last. .”24 Limit is innate to the human. form is inductively understood by means of measure. As Hans van der Laan states. as in the limitlessness of the universe. and for that matter the universe (God’s Creation).”20 For Hans van der Laan. With little exception. is the trilithon (his physical model. [See figure 3] The Origins of Architectonic Space – Constructed Walls and the Metaphorical Horizon Hans van der Laan’s architecture exists as wall construction – almost to the exclusion of roof/ceiling and floor/platform. We can imagine God’s intellect as omniscient and everlasting. the things we make ourselves and the created things of nature there is not only a complimentary. and finite. in that way all will necessarily come to play the same part toward one another. “The essence of architecture consists in the bringing together of limited solid elements so that limited living spaces can arise between them. As Hans van der Laan states. as the first is to it. so is the middle to the first. and conversely as the last is to the middle. We begin with the proportional relation of the measures of one form (eurhythmy). Infinity operates in two directions. Human intellect is analogous to our position on the earth. takes place. in the other our own finite. unit. incapable of pure creation. and the expression of ourselves in nature. a hidden beyond that reaches the sensible. our eyes see forward. “Our experience-space is necessarily in conflict with the space of nature. “ . unlimited. size.25 The horizon suggests a reality in relation to humanity. so is it to the last. Measure leads by consequence to the sorting of sizes into a system. yet our view remains limited. Hans van der Laan origins are intellectual tools. our space lies not upon the earth but between walls. at a distance above the earth’s surface. Limited patches of both earth and sky become visible to us. human intelligence is bound to a single body of experience and the limits of finite time. the infinite. As he states. creating intelligence. Louisiana Tech University .”23 God. “One block of stone laid across two blocks standing upright. behold the original type of monumental construction that humans realized. intellectualize. Within the primary relation between creator and creature there thus arises a secondary relation between ourselves and the things we make. a limited reality. our human existence is limited to the surface (or near the surface) of the earth. created intellect.4 such that. The space that nature offers us rises above the ground and is oriented entirely towards the earth’s surface. Thus. . becomes the scope of human space. where the earth meets with the dome of the sky. our existence is bound to a horizon. in fact.”21 Hans van der Laan’s original architecture is not a simple shelter born of human necessity that requires further refinement (Vitruvius). For this he quotes Auguste Choisy. However. and an observable horizon. which leads to the relation between different forms (symmetry). and precedent is Stonehenge). The horizontal line. created intelligence. Our making is more like re-shaping of natural things. In this sense art can be said to imitate nature: the things made by art are related to the limited. limited. Of course the earth and sky extend beyond the observable horizon. As the earth. Hans van der Laan’s Architecture William T Willoughby.” or original architecture. and the absolute exist in a state of detachment. . and infinite. modeled after our understanding of nature’s innate order. Hans van der Laan’s “primitive hut. .

and position. separated from natural space.5 of the earth below and the space of the air above. When set upon the earth the wall reverts back to being part of the earth’s surface. Differences in the surface.”26 [See figure 4] This is Dom. The human is conscious of a horizontal orientation centered upon the earth – of a space around him [or her] in the midst of the space above the earth.” For Hans van der Laan. with the utmost industry. Solid elements are extracted from the earth and shaped to coincide with a form. should be their model. according to definite number. Concinnitas as a Conclusion The metaphorical relationship between earth (soil/matter). The stratum between the horizon-bound against the vertical distance of the sky becomes the backdrop for human activity (and the subject of human contemplation). a space that extends to the visible horizon. From these simple relations architecture is brought into being. and the source of her dignity. and sky (vertical space) serve to generate Dom Hans van der Laan’s architecture. The introduction of a second wall. Louisiana Tech University . authority. which means the perfect and rhapsodic relation of parts within a body such as is found in nature. The more vertical the wall. Hans van der Laan clearly presents the earth as constituting a surface. It is from the combination of these forms. as the perfect generator of forms. so they had no doubt that if they neglected these things. which meet at the surface of the earth. And so. This is the main object of the art of building. the absolute and fundamental rule in Nature. both take such comments for granted and forego elaboration. and translated them into methods of building. Alberti has a term for this understanding of the imitative origins of architecture. In this manner. by contemplation. cuts off a piece of space. as dictated by concinnitas. in the form of an upright slab. The shaping of the unlimited qualities of nature to the limited quantities of human measure is how humans employ their intellect to be included in harmony with nature. “Beauty is a form of sympathy and consonance of the parts within a body. Hans van der Laan’s Architecture William T Willoughby. wall (extracted matter/form). Our upright posture reveals to us a sensible world that can be reduced to the coincidence of a vast and extended sky space which meets at a circumscribed horizon with the continuous mass of the earth’s surface. extracted not as a whole but in pieces that walls are composed. As Laugier suggests.27 Architecture is always a matter of composing solid elements to make a space for humanity – a construction. and proportion.”30 Alberti writes in Book Nine of On the Art of Building concerning concinnitas: “All that has been said our ancestors learned through observation of Nature herself. measure (quantity). “It is the same with architecture as with all the other arts: its principles are founded on nature itself. to which bodily weight binds us. they would be unable to attain all that contributes to the praise and honor of the work. architectonic space is formed. applied to making architecture. and in the processes of nature are found to be clearly indicated all the rules of architecture.”31 Where Sky Rubs Against Soil: The Metaphorical Horizon in Dom. concinnitas. As Alberti states. placed at an interval and located parallel and opposite the initial wall. Hans van der Laan’s metaphor for architecture: Human space is bound to a limited horizontal.”29 Alberti and Laugier alternately suggest that the principles of architecture should be derived inductively from nature. charm. having a particular size. it limits our horizon with the introduction of composed.28 A single wall is insufficient in order to separate and bound space. and we live as it were against the earth. He continues. the more it distinguishes itself from the surface of the earth. outline. “Architecture is born of this original discrepancy between the two spaces – the horizontally oriented space of our experience and the vertically oriented space of nature. “Through intellect and upright stance the human can detach himself [or herself] from this order and relate to himself [or herself] the piece of space he [or she] needs for action and movement. such as mountains and valleys are dismissed as folds in a surface and not genuine forms. This vertical construction of architecture conflicts with the horizon of our experience space. vertical elements. and worth. it begins when we add vertical walls to the horizontal surface of the earth. they searched out the rules that she employed in producing things. Hans van der Laan attempts to return to the source and rediscover what the ancients learned though inductive observation of nature and. walls. the primal and unbridgeable difference between the unlimited natural space (the vertical) and the limited artificial space (the horizontal) is what architecture venerates and reconciles. And yet a single wall only bisects space. is the primary datum of this space On account of their weight all material beings are drawn into this spatial order. not without reason they declared that Nature.

The authority of the apocryphal books was challenged during the Reformation. and writings of Louis I. from observation of Nature. Kahn is interested in what precedes a thing’s coming into being – what precedes a thing’s creation. develops by trial and The recurrence of beginnings is an act of conscious imitation. and nursed by Use and Experience. building. As Alberti claims of “all Arts we begot by Chance and Observation. they hearken back to origins but are a matter of renewal. an “eternal confirmation.virginia. it is non-material and unmeasurable. music. Hans van der Laan and Louis Kahn are not so distinct – both link the making of architecture back to the coming into being of all that exists. translated by Francis M. and number form a harmonic unity. ” Thus for Giorgi. Essentially. not on spontaneity (an action without context). .” Light. published 1992). Kahn begs comparison with Hans van der Laan’s interest in origins. and eventually their inclusion in Protestant Bibles was ceased. “I love beginnings. and what precedes and then becomes the verb “to express. the desire to be”(that precedes being). He cites God’s instructions to “Moses concerning the form and proportion of the tabernacle which had to be built. What Will Be Always Has Been: The Words of Louis I. And finally. Compare the Christian belief to Plato’s Timaeus. Dom Hans van der Laan: Modern Primitive (Amsterdam: Architectura & Natura Press. so far as might be.” Plato’s Timaeus continues to explain the motive of creation as the product of a great. edited by Saul Wurman (New York: Access Press Ltd. the divine persona that fashioned “reason within soul and soul within body. he seems to leave the adoration of beginnings and attempts construe a mythic origin. I marvel at beginnings. the room and its inspiration. Kahn characterizes silence as what precedes light (or aura). God. “the aura of joy. in concinnity. Endnotes 1 Richard Padovan. and humble observation of God’s creation. and improved and perfected by Reason and Study. Kahn. Kahn speaks of a threshold between silence and light. the god took over all that is visible. Plato concluded than that the “supreme good” of the visible universe. . body. divine number. Louisiana Tech University 6 . in an imitative manner. He gave him as model the fabric of the world . Revised Standard Version of the Bible. the relationship between induction (which he likens to inspiration) and deduction (which he likens to expiration) is like that of observation and making.” made the work naturally as “excellent and perfect as possible. Beginnings are perennial. when it concerns making.” The beginning of architecture for Kahn is the discovery of the nature of a space where it is good for a certain human activity. Plato’s demiurge desired. or fundamental inspiration to all making. nature. transcriptions. Later.” See Plato’s Timaeus. Hans van der Laan’s method. since he judged that order was in every way the better.”32 According to Hans van der Laan.html] The Wisdom of Solomon 7:17-22. Thus.33 From observation of nature. Section Two: The Profession of the Christian Faith (prepared after the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. Revised Standard Version of the Bible – part of the Apocrypha (meaning “hidden”) included in Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian Bibles.” (Louis I. Hans van der Laan’s Architecture William T Willoughby. about concinnitas: Francesco Giorgi’s regard for harmonious proportions led him to explain how “rules and consonances” fit together in mysterious harmony by a relation between God. for Kahn. 1986) 150).. The entire Where Sky Rubs Against Soil: The Metaphorical Horizon in Dom. not at available on the World Wide Web [http://www. an active making that is measured in relation our capacity to observe and measure the result. according to Kahn). proportion. deductive intelligence. Cornford (New York: The Liberal Arts Press Inc. Kahn states. but on a deep observational consideration of nature.browse. in Kahn’s mature statement on architecture. we can stretch our bounded insights and peer into the face of infinity. He places emphasis. and observation of patterns within the visible universe. 1959) 19 Paraphrased from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. but in discordant and unordered motion – and brought it from disorder into order. Kahn. is the giver of presences (all material is spent light. Though our horizon is limited.6 Thus the basic rules for building extend.htm] 3 4 5 Colossians 1:15. In the end. order can be discerned by the human intellect and fashioned by the hands. the natural materials from which all things are made (and therefore measurable). where the first causes which brought forth the visible universe are shown. 1994) 28 2 The recurrent theme of beginnings in the words. text from the University of Virginia’s Electronic Text Center [http://etext. nothing imperfect. become the beginning of architecture. (Exodus 25). “that all things should be good and.vatican.

browse. His book doesn’t address a metaphysical realm or a speculative “third” condition. For full comprehension and comparison. which I assume to be Rykwert’s own as derived from the original text published in 1753. though imitation of the natural Creation. the “receptacle” or “matrix” within which sensible things exist (space). joined as opposites that together form a unity) supposed by Lucretius in Book One. “Strumenti di Ordine: Instruments of Order. Fehn as seen in this quotation is so great that I cannot imagine at least one of the two being aware of the other’s work. Plato’s Timeaus distinguishes the nature of the universe in three parts: forms. Sverre Fehn is an architect and teacher whose skills in both areas demands respect (he was recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1997). April 1996 (Milano: Elemond Spa. . Joseph Rykwert’s On Adam’s House in Paradise (New York: Museum of Modern Art. and Sirach 29:21-28. 1960) 41 John Summerson. Brill. 1983) 2 9 Hans van der Laan. 1996) 71 8 Hans van der Laan.. 1983) 1. as the distinction between body (or substance) and void (without which substance could not move). I prefer this particular translation. J.” Casabella: Monthly Magazine. Louisiana Tech University 19 . April 1996 (Milano: Elemond Spa. in some ways. “Strumenti di Ordine: Instruments of Order. which is the better stating point. 1996) 71 11 12 13 14 15 10 Ibidem.” Casabella: Monthly Magazine.html] 7 Both citations in this paragraph are from Hans van der Laan. 1992).edu/rsv. translated by Richard Padovan (Leiden: E. 1994) Sverre Fehn. April 1996 (Milano: Elemond Spa. On Adam’s House in Paradise (New York: Museum of Modern Art.7 Chapter 7 of The Wisdom of Solomon (7:1-30) is worthy of perusal. 71 Joseph Rykwert. The Classical Language of Architecture (Cambridge: MIT Press. He sticks with induction and foregoes speculation. Text from the University of Virginia’s Electronic Text Center [http://etext. which I cite here: Marc-Antoine Laugier. translated by Richard Padovan (Leiden: E. van der Laan and S. Hans van der Laan considers only observable dyads while deriving his system. such as: of continuous surface-discrete form. See Chapter 3 of Richard Padovan’s Dom Hans van der Laan: Modern Primitive (Amsterdam: Architectura & Natura Press.” Interestingly.virginia. translated by Richard Padovan (Leiden: E. 1982) lines 146-482. Hans van der Laan’s Architecture William T Willoughby. Sverre Fehn: The Poetry of the Straight Line (Helsinki: The Museum of Finnish Architecture. Revised Standard Version of the Bible (Apocrypha). Brill. An Essay on Architecture. “the nurse – of all Becoming. solid-void. Number 633. J. I did consult an English translation of the original text. J. if just for the concise beauty of its prose. and the third thing. Architectonic Space. translated by Morris Morgan (New York: Dover Publications.” Casabella: Monthly Magazine. of which all sensible things are simulacra. the sensible things The Ten Books on Architecture. this closely allies him with the Epicureans. He remains rooted in the observable aspects brought forth by what he sees of God’s Creation. Hans van der Laan humbly considers the intellect as sustained by continuous contact with the observable world (a breathing in) that precedes and remains more vital than speculation (or a deductive breathing out). Number 633. Architectonic Space. The coincidence between H. for believer and non-believer alike. He is an architectural Where Sky Rubs Against Soil: The Metaphorical Horizon in Dom. 72 Hans van der Laan. 1977) 11-12 Hans van der Laan “Strumenti di Ordine: Instruments of Order.html] Hans van der Laan.virginia. translated by Wolfgang and Anni Herrmann (Los Angeles: Hennessy & Ingalls Inc. 1983) 7. Thus architecture exists as a metaphor. inside-outside. 1972) 110 Vitruvius. and art-nature. Number 633.browse. text from the University of Virginia’s Electronic Text Center [http://etext. Brill. 1996) 76 17 18 16 Ibidem. 1963) 35-36 All citations of Laugier extracted from. 1972) 44. On the Nature of Things: De Rerum Natura (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. this also relates to the simple dyad (two things. Architectonic Space.

J. 26 This and the above quote from Hans van der Laan. confound the homogeneity of space. edited by F. Brill. Neil Leach. concinnitas. April 1996 (Milano: Elemond Spa. “Une pierre a plat sur duex pierres debout.” Taken from Hans van der Laan’s essay “Strumenti di Ordine: Instruments of Order. Thus two spaces exist in conflict. Leon Battista Alberti. Number 633. but the sacral nature of one over and above the other is unclear. it is a grand example of phenomenological method. J. congruity. meaning “The house of God. He reconnects and weaves together these threads into a personal tapestry of architectural myth. viola le premire type d’une construction monumentale que l’homme ait realisee. I was compelled to connect this passage to Hans van der Laan’s and demonstrate its connection to Mircea Eliade use in his book The Sacred and the Profane. Brill. also consult this text’s very helpful glossary. In Eliade’s case. that space has no qualities of its own. Timaeus. Architectonic Space. -tat-em. A. If one reads Fehn’s writings or transcripts of his discussions. L. Jacob takes a stone of the place and uses it as a pillow. forming an irruption of the sacred and separating a space from its surrounds. Jacob’s stone distinguishes space. in the dream God speaks to Jacob. well-adjusted] means: skillful and harmonious adaptation or fitting together of parts. Thus each analogy counters the other. Louisiana Tech University . until it receives qualities as granted from things visible (geometrical space)? Or are his views with Eliade. where concinnitas is described. It would be doubtful that Sverre Fehn would be unaware of the work of Hans van der Laan or the influence of the Bossche School of architects.” Casabella: Monthly Magazine. Architectonic Space. Elliston and P. Second Edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cornford (New York: The Liberal Arts Press Inc. and Robert Tavernor (Cambridge: MIT Press. harmony. 1996) 74 Ibidem. 6 27 28 Basic to this countering of the horizon with the vertical of human construction is a reference to Jacob’s dream at Bethel (Genesis 28). Jacob’s stone marks an occurrence of the sacred.from the Oxford English Dictionary. and in this way. Mc Cormick (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. As well. the persona that emerges is a thinker who collects (or scavenges) threads of meaning and poetry about architecture and construction. Hans van der Laan’s Architecture William T Willoughby. translated by Francis M. When he awakes he venerates the place where he slept. 71 Hans van der Laan. He awakes from a holy dream where he envisions angels ascending and descending a great ladder connecting earth and heaven. and creator of instructive poetry in the tradition of Louis Kahn. 1983) 5 Ibidem. On the Art of Building in Ten Books. In his lessons.8 mythmaker. Jacob called the place Bethel. f. but not in this context (in “Instruments of Order”). epiphanies that require a special form of consecration (religious space)? Humans withdraw space (inside) from natural space (outside) by means of the construction of walls.” Hans van der Laan refers to this passage from Genesis.. 1988) 303. the construction of the wall by means of human intellect and action is imitative of God’s Creation. along with a bibliography. 1989) 29 Where Sky Rubs Against Soil: The Metaphorical Horizon in Dom. storyteller. Hans van der Laan remains mute on this point concerning qualitative distinctions of space. It is not clear to me how Hans van der Laan perceives space. and that space has sacred and profane distinctions. Contemporary use of the term concinnity [ad. 1983) 5 Ibidem. He takes the stone which he used as a pillow and sets it upright and pours oil on the top of it. 1959) 21 Author’s translation from the French. remaining characterless. translated by Richard Padovan (Leiden: E. where Eliade distinguishes between homogenous space and heirophany. 20 21 Plato. Hans van der Laan provides us with the dyadic image of the bubble and the water drop. which reads. 173-174 22 23 24 25 An excellent essay concerning the horizon is Cornelius van Peursen’s essay “The Horizon” from Husserl: Expositions and Appraisals. To my mind. concinn-us skilfully put together. translated by Joseph Rykwert. Is his view commiserate with Plato. which oppose emptiness with fullness in alternation. translated by Richard Padovan (Leiden: E. 1977) 182-201. consistency -.

Naturally. was a Venetian scholar/monk. and Mystically Considered (originally published 1658). 1883) Where Sky Rubs Against Soil: The Metaphorical Horizon in Dom. 1971) 155-157. “Memorandum for S. or The Quincuncial Lozenge. or Network Plantations of the Ancients. translated by Joseph Rykwert. and Robert Tavernor (Cambridge: MIT Press. On the Art of Building in Ten Books. n. Giorgi. 157 31 32 33 Francesco Giorgi. Francesco della Vigna”. In his De Harmonia Mundi Totius. A more fundamental example of the order and harmony that exists within the diversity of things. and the discoverable relationships between them is Sir Thomas Browne’s The Gardens of Cyrus. Artificially. Norton & Company Inc. Louisiana Tech University . 1525). Volume II (London: George Bell and Sons. Hans van der Laan’s Architecture William T Willoughby. 1988) 303 Ibidem. 12 (London: St. Martin’s Press. 1979) 324 Leon Battista Alberti. born 1466 and author of De Harmonia Mundi Totius (Venice. he declares the Cabbala (mystical interpretation of the Old Testament) and Pythagoreanism to be parallel systems.9 30 First found in Richard Padovan’s essay “Laugier to van der Laan” Architectural Design 49 .. from The Works of Sir Thomas Browne. W. (Promemoria per San Francesco della Vigna [1535]) from Appendix I of Rudolf Wittkower’s Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism (New York: W. Neil Leach.

10 figure 1 figure 2 figure 3 figure 4 Where Sky Rubs Against Soil: The Metaphorical Horizon in Dom. Hans van der Laan’s Architecture William T Willoughby. Louisiana Tech University .