Winner | RTF Poem Writing Competition May 2021

Category: Poem: Complex Pasts – Diverse Futures
Participant: Ankita Gupta
Profession: Architect
City: Mumbai


Evolution of architecture

Man first dwelled in dark caves-
corbelled chambers of prehistoric age.
In houses of mud, twigs and animal shaves,
finally resting under stone umbrage.

An ancient Egyptian kingdom was built
onmud-bricks, reed and papyrus;
The pyramidswere cast in stucco and gilt-
For dead kings to be blessed byOsiris.

The Greek empire rose in marble and wood,
by classical orders- Doric, Ionic and Corinthian.
Temples, aqueducts and stadia augustlystood,
In polies, with alleys and passageslabyrinthian.

A Roman style was forged in travertine and cement;
With colonnades, arches, vaults and domes-
merging durable, functional and aesthetic element;
inscribed by Vitruvius in ‘De Architectura’ tomes.

From the Mid-Eastern realm emerged
theOttoman, Byzantium and Persiandesign;
Minarets and domes on pendentives perched,
In light, shadowsand calligraphy refined.

Medieval Europe was dotted with Romanesque churches,
Basilican forms inthickset walls and barrel vaults,
Fenestrated with small windows andround arches,
fortifiedbymilitant monks against feudal assaults.

Romanesque gradually evolved into Gothic style,
thestained rose and lancet windows let in more light;
In ribbed vaults, pointed arches, tracery and gargoyles
the buttressed structuresattainedmajestic heights.

The Renaissance ushered a revival of the Classical forms
by quattrocento artists in Italy seeking liberty;
Designfollowedlaws of perspective andgeometric norms-
Exemplified byPalladio, Galileo, Brunelleschiand Alberti.

Baroque spread across Europe in the 17th century
expressingpower and wealth of the church divided;
Edifices had sculptural formsingold and emery
anddramatic details! In illusion and ornamentation sided.

Neoclassicism thrived in Europe and the United States,
rebutting Baroque, based on archaeological excavations;
The 18th century saw a rise in Greek orderadvocates-
withblank walls, tall columns and pediments in elevation.

Art Deco left a signature on the West: sleek, bold and linear;
Setting a global trend inspired by chevrons and ziggurats-
withsetbacks and new materials: chrome, steel and veneer,
in striking silhouettes like Chrysler building and Hoover habitat.

The Industrial Revolution triggered Modernism,
ushering open plans, strip windows and R.C.C supports;
‘Form follows function’and‘ornamental criticism’-
epitomized in Crystal Palace, Villa Savoye and JFK airport.

Post-modernismdisclaimed the monotony of Modernism,
Design involved context, complexity and contradiction.
Theories included Hi-tech, Futurism and Deconstructivism,
demonstrated inThe Guggenheim, Piazza D’Italia and Ting 1

We have arrived at the Neomodern/ Contemporary age,
Where the poorstill dwell in slums made of waste.
Now that technology is all the rage,
Architecture needs to be retraced.


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