2008-2021 (under construction)

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Ruins and Phantoms: Experiencing the Ancient Site of Assos 

Book Chapter
will be printed in 2020
in the book of Assos 

Architects’ passion for ancient cities and ruins could be thought as similar to rereading of the literature classics over and over. Ancient cities resemble veritable visual books for architectural theory and practice since they are open sources which have capacity to be construed again and again. A journey to an ancient site is a first-hand experience of places, landscapes, artefacts and objects in situ. For architects, it arises an occasion to question their presumptions, (re)construct knowledge and also contribute to their visual vocabulary for future architectures, learning from personal observation. Architects then have the inspiration to build and write architectural theories at home, and transform the site by leaving traces on the face of the earth. The experience of ancient site is gained through walking and drawing, existential and archaic practices, both a part of the human evolution. Moreover, walking and drawing both radically alter the sense perception and challenge visual and spatial cognition.

This paper focuses attention on that walking as a romantic act and drawing as a scientific act are two collaborative attitudes to ancient cities and ruins which architects can have. Their coexistence proposes a revised role in the construction of the knowledge which gives access to the invisible and unspeakable dimensions of the ancient site. My argument on the experience and the practice of the ancient gives rise to an inherent conflict between systematic versus imprecise methods, both calling for free, intentive and nonlinear paths leading an unveiling of potential creativity. Situated on the southwestern side of the Troad Peninsula, opposite the Greek island of Lesbos, Assos is a relatively well-preserved ancient site in Asia Minor. It is extremely challenging to build and dwell at Assos, and there is no likewise ancient city constructed on such a vertical landscape. This makes the ancient city of Assos unique in the application of the spatial layout of the ancient Greek tradition. It is a stiff geography indeed. Today, the unique architectonic landscape at Assos lets architects reread, rediscover and reinterpret the ruined city. By gaining familiarity with the ancient site of Assos, architects have the chance to observe numerous ways of how to deal with challenging nature and geography which ask for correlation, collaboration and reconciliation. That is, Assos can be interpreted as a poem revealing how “poetically man dwells” on the rocks.

Key Words: Assos; Architectural Drawing; Walking; Live-through Experience; Architects’ Journey

Ruins and Phantoms: Experiencing the Ancient Site of Assos
Introduction: Roots and Routes
Site as the Field of Perception between Past and Present
Walking on the Face of the Earth
Ruins Connects the Architect with the Other Worlds
Drawing, the Thinking Hand on the Paper
The Architect Construes the Common Language in the Ancient Site 
In Lieu of Conclusion
List of abbreviations