The symbol or word known as “archetype” is something related to something that constantly recurs in terms of motif, art, literature, and mythology. The classic definition of archetype relating to architecture and defining its significance for the designer refers to the recurrence of thoughts, imaginations, and new creative ideas sharing similar traits through unrelated cases in classic media, storytelling, etc. The importance of archetypes in architecture as a designer is what the article explains here, where the reality of creating metaphysical or ritualistic structures defining a form or order in architecture is simply not easy without imagination or inner conscious thoughts. The designer, who creates a design embedded in memories in his mind that is never a visible reality, is constructed from the mythology of culture through his poetic imagination and memories, creating a fourth dimension of time and space as he travels back in daydreams. These forms are referred to as archetypes of architecture where Greeks have defined its meaning as ‘First form’ or ‘Original model’ as it lays the existence of basic forms which later are changed in various combinations.

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interpretation of archetypes according to Jung_©

C.G Jung was the first person to introduce the theory of archetype within Psychology in humans that is collectively inherited in one’s mind as an unconscious idea or pattern or thought, image, etc that is present in every human’s psyches universally, with help of his theory Architect Paul Zucker in his 1959 Town and Square represented the archetype in architectural theory with specific examples of five squares demonstrating the way history chooses the appropriate form to define the typologies owing to non-similar functional characteristics varying from past to the present day. Bringing the book into the light ‘The Architecture of city’ from 1966 the concept of explaining further archetypes in architecture was developed by Aldo Rossi an important step which later was adopted and explained in detail during the 1970’s as the theory of archetypes was practiced as a basis for architectural designs through the work of Michael Graves, Rob, and Leon Kier and Mario Botta.

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The square archetypes based on Zucker: a) the closed squore, b) the nuceor squore, c) the dominoted square and d) the grouped square_©

The theory of archetypes is classified in three steps. The purpose of this section is to help the user understand that archetypes can be used as a common language of form in design by first bringing the concentrated overview into architecture, second describing the potential expression that is existing in archetypes to bring them in order to point out the utilisation in architecture, and third being the questions that an archetype has to answer as its expression will be perceived by the user or as its experience changes from person to person.In terms of basic elements of construction like floor, wall, and roof, which are divided into different categories representing certain levels in construction, Those are concerned with major forms, or particular construction system or the main forms are massive or skeletal and then comes the surface treatment of these forms with including openings and other details.

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Archetype in architecture as their basic forms_©

Regardless of time, place, or function, specifically defined archetypes exist at all levels: the major form, construction system, openings, and surface treatment that represent general solutions to form-related problems, known as motifs or themes. These are related to the functions of the elements, or what they do with the floor or surface that directs, delimits, and supports. The motifs here direct how the elements of architecture perform their functions, implying various interpretations within each of the themes. As an example, the delimiting theme of a floor is interpreted in principle by a limited group of motifs, such as lowering, raising, frame, central patterns, and surface patterns.

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Aldo Rossi’s collage work_©

Taking into consideration the philosophy of Aldo Rossi and Louis khan: the adaptation of classical forms and heritage in forms into a modern context, also the development of design-oriented Archetypes into the contemporary architecture of the Post War era without resorting to motifs from the past out of designers’ unconsciousness but an archetypal idea. The article restricts this study to the following Archetypal Narratives:

Archetypes of Form (Classical Architecture, Postmodern Architecture, Pop culture), i.e., Aldo Rossi, Louis Kahn and Leon Krier.

Aldo Rossi: Archetype of Memory

Carl Jung’s archetypes in analytical psychology influenced Aldo Rossi to the point where he attempted to create a typology of form in his designs using psychosocial experiences, as Carl Jung divides the unconscious theories of archetypes into three parts.The first is the ego, defined as the conscious mind, and the second is the personal unconscious, which jung says can be anything, including currently conscious, and he adds another special part that distinguishes his theories: the collective unconscious, which is like a female’s inner male side that remains in her unconscious mind.For Rossi, similar to the idea of an archetype, he formed the type as the inner law of forming a building that is not created by certain people but by the long-term accumulation of people’s basic lifestyles and their psychosocial experiences. The archetype or type in the architecture of Rossi is the result of cultural conventions, from which he concludes that the idea of typology in Rossi has two basic characteristics, one historical and the other abstract.

The architecture of Aldo Rossi evidently explains many particular repetitive elements or fragments entirely based on strong motifs drawn from his memory or images that are relevant to where the architecture would belong, such as objects that situate between inventory and memory as Rossi claims, “so the meaning of the past or the site should be first comprehended and then transformed into new meanings,” which indeed was reminiscent of a painting by Giorgio de Chirico, the surrealist Italian painter who was surreal but more powerfully superimposed and expressive.

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Archetype in Aldo Rossi Drawings_©

Teatro del Mondo (Archetype of Memory in Urban and Historical context)

Rossi has created his own architectural vocabulary in his book, “The Architecture of the City,” by scientifically analysing the city into separate parts such as monuments and places. Rossi believes in timeless architecture, as evidenced by his “theory of performances,” according to which essential forms emerge from the collective memory of the city as embodied in its monuments. Aldo Rossi observed that monuments are places where memories are stored, opening a door to learn the history of the architecture of a particular place or city; he believed cities are understood as theatres of human events. The Teatro del Mondo was a literal theatre that he built to explain the events that became the creator events that occurred throughout the city with its movement. The Teatro, as it travelled through the city with its different surroundings, became like a monument that was able to recreate the interpretations of memories by generating new backdrops for the theatre. The Teatro del Mondo was built for the 1979–1980 Biennale as a moving, floating theatre that would temporarily add to the bi-annual art exhibition in Venice. The Teatro gave Rossi an opportunity to explore contemporary design that could function in a historical context.

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Model of Teatro Del Mondo by Aldo Rossi_©

Rossi ‘s work included significant elements of typology in the strategy of developing his work in connection with historic cities. His constant process of analogically translating typologies drew the memory of an artifact back towards its original location. The typology of the Teatro design was influenced and inspired by Renaissance Venetian floating pavilions. The theatre was perceived as a boundary between water and land. During Rossi ‘s travel to America in 1970, he gathered references for a new repertoire of architecture that related to the ocean, where he drew his inspiration from lighthouses seen on the Maine Coast in the shape of the Teatro. The lighthouse inspiration for theatre was considered a beacon of light in comparison with light buildings, which were also tenaciously built for the sea. Functionally, a lighthouse is a place to see and be seen.

The design was greatly influenced by the city of Venice, where Venetian influences can be seen in the scale, colour, and materials of the Teatro. The scale of the Teatro del Mondo directly relates to the height of the Dogana da Mar. This Dogana is the first building seen by ships entering at the intersection of the Grand and Giudecca Canals in Venice. The large sphere of the Dogana is seen in its smaller form at the top of the Teatro del Mondo, making the theatre a typological abstraction of the Venetian building. The building, which functioned for two years, was perhaps considered one of Aldo Rossi’s greatest works. The Teatro’s designs granted flawless interaction between historic and modern contexts. With its past references and use of typology, the building was evident of historical forms and detached from them, creating a dialogue between the Teatro and the city of Venice.

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Teatro Del Mondo by Aldo Rossi_©×1674.jpg

Contemporary references:

1. Philharmonic Hall Szczecin / Estudio Barozzi Veiga 

The building’s design is influenced by steeply pitched roofs as its typological form emerging from its urban context, as well as the verticality of residential buildings from the surroundings and city’s monumentality of the upright ornaments of neoclassical and gothic churches and massive volumes of classical buildings, giving the structure the appearance of the towers that dot its entire skyline and cranes of its port.The mindset describes the expressionism of the designer, who aimed to use geometry as an archetype to give shape to a new composition of rhythm that is conveying feelings by demonstrating balance between massiveness and verticality.

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Philharmonic concert hall_©

2. Feltrinelli Porta Volta, Milan – Herzog & de Meuron

The building Feltrinelli Porta Volta is designed by Swiss architectural office  Herzog & de Meuron  as the name suggest the location of the building is in Viale Pasubio in the Porta Volta district of Milan. The concept is derived from the traditional north-Italian, and Milanese rural farmhouse shaping the profile of building with concrete and glass inspired by that of Cascina. As the architects of building explains the forms and typology of inspiration to design is drawn from simplicity and generous scale of historic Milanese architecture as Ospedale Maggiore, Rotonda della Besana, Lazaretto, and Castello Sforzesco. The long linear cascina buildings of traditional rural architecture in Lombardy that were already important references in Aldo Rossi’s work, such as his residential building in Gallaratese, are considered the archetype here.They propose an elongated and narrow design in a vaguely figurative way, creating the illusion of a roof melting into its facades. The structure is trying to express the balance between transparency and spatial definition of site, façade, and structural form integrated as a whole.

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Feltrinelli Porta Volta, Milan_©

3. City Library Rottenburg / harris + kurrle architekten bda

The new library building scale is based on a medieval structure made of small parts that was completed in 2017.Design is a communicative concept, which means that the urban fabric is mixed with the topic of environment and then recorded, interpreted, and re-rendered into a new urban spatial level, opening a new door to genetic code emerging from the past into a new drawn from the environment. Because of the straight pitched roof cranked building plan, the form of the building is cranked as an obsession from neighbouring buildings, creating a spatial dialogue where the location of the building is playing an important role to shape the interface of very different scales. The varying eaves of the new buildings transfer between the grandeur of the palace and the low lying buildings of old town.

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City Library of Rottenburg_©

Louis Khan

The visionary architect Louis Khan was an expert manipulator of light and form in architecture he was the creator unique dramatic buildings his personality was highly complex that proved the significance of archetype and its explanatory adaptations in contemporary architecture from wide range of sources from past ruins to the designs of le Corbusier. He tried to innovate new construction techniques which proved an elemental primitive power in modern buildings.

Grid as an Archetype (Palladian Villas)

The bath house services are positioned at the corners of each of its main spaces, echoing the square-shaped four stairs surrounding the central hall of Renaissance architecture, as designed in the Trenton Bath House based on the tartan grid as an archetype drawn inspiration from Andrea Palladio’s villa Rotunda. The plan takes its basis from Palladio’s example of a rotunda with alternating 22-foot and 8-foot bands that intersect to define small and big squares, with small spaces assigned to toilets, storage rooms, and a u-shaped private passage leading to shower rooms. The corner piers serve the building’s main structure as an entrance, storage access to vaults, and shelter for toilet facilities, with narrow passages providing the square piers and rectangular servant zones. These rectangular zones are sources of natural light and circulation around each structure’s inner square focal points and locker rooms.

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Villa Rotunda by Palladio used as archetype by Louis Khan in Trenton Bath house_©
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Plladian villa with the concept of square by Louis Khan_©

Louis Khan’s bath house architecture, inspired by Palladio’s villas and a tartan grid as an archetype forming the basis for the main structure, is more like a connection between nature and human experience, giving less importance to fundamentals and connecting building users with removing other distractions, similar to Palladio’s modestly plastered brick, with the power of luxury derived from idealized form rather than rich material.Khan is obsessed with the integration of personality traits, not just for services or handy strategies, but for making a clear strategy and the wonder of existence emerge. Khan is always renowned for his mastery of the mundane and heavenly sides of tasks. In its treatment of landscape, the Trenton Bath House foreshadows Khan’s other works, such as the Salk Institute and the Kimbell Museum.The Trenton site design concentrates on the formation of rooms, largely through closely placed tree bosques. The landscaping creates a progression of spaces leading to the structures.

This design of the bath house set Khan’s philosophy of working on defining archetypes of all future buildings, each of which had influence, particularly by giving more detail about the plan and section with appropriate use of materials combined with knowledge of how to construct with maximal natural light. This design of Khan has been playing a pivotal role. He went on to design such magnificent spaces as the Yale University Art Gallery, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., the National Assembly Museum of Bangladesh, and the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. He was later regarded as a light choreographer because natural light became an archetype of his designs, a fundamental principle of his work that he insisted on stating: “An interior only becomes an architectural space through the diffusion and reflection of sunlight.”

Leon Kier

Leon Kier is an architect from Luxemburg who criticizes modernism. He is a famous city planner and was a favorite of Prince Charles. Leon was also an advocate for community-based vernacular urban development; he was the first-born architect of the modern era and a strong supporter of community-based city planning. According to Leon Keir’s architecture (arche-tectonic), it is the form of origin relevant to the architecture of any structure with any type of organism laying its fundamentals on the art of the building, which means that the origin is eternally present in the principles of architecture that reach into an immemorial past. Origin here means the form by which something is what it is and as it is, which we called the essence or source of its nature.

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Architecture of the archetype by Leon Krier_©
Architecture of the archetype by Leon Krier_©

There is an ongoing debate on the aesthetics and fragments of beauty and poetry of conceptual and constructional inconsistency and confusion, where reconstruction of architecture is claimed as rehabilitation of originality, citing reasons for creating modern architecture ideology and re-establishing the validity of architecture as an intellectual discipline of artistic value. According to Leon, celebrating classic historic architecture as nostalgia for originality for the origins of architecture as forms or principles is euphoria of amnesia, the origins being historical and geographical myth and cultural realities in a truly generative manner. In its perpetual reflections, the origin becomes the source of originality that establishes a creative dialogue between origin and originals, allowing for the invention of permanence. Therefore, Leon explains that in the context of constantly continuing, the originals themselves become the legitimate objects of imitation; they represent the immense patrimony of architecture. This compendious recollection mediated by imitation is the essence of architecture.


Blackstock,Joel. (2021) Leon Krier, Carl Jung, and the Architecture of the Archetype. Available at:

 Desaram,Keshika. (2015) Aldo Rossi’s Archetypes. Available at:

 Evensen,Thii Thomas. (1987) Archetype, Existential Expression, and Shared Experience. Available at:

Pieczara,Marta. (2019) Archetypes in contemporary architecture. Available at: file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/5-Pieczara-4_2019%20(1).pdf


Salma sultana graduated master’s in architecture from the Iuav university of architecture Italy, born in 1992, and obtained her bachelor's from India, she works for her own architecture practice named Zahaa designs. She likes to be a curator of architecture exhibitions also curated for the la biennale exhibition in Arsenale in Venezia. She a Ph.D. student of a german university in Brandenburg working on historical architecture conservation her final achievement in the field of architecture is to create an innovative sustainable solution for concrete and bring awareness by joining a teaching profession in the sustainable architecture department.