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Scroope 28

Issue 28: Concinnitās

Concinnitās is the state of being skillfully put together or joined; a beauty that comes from the harmony, proportion, and congruity of the various parts of a whole assembled according to principles.

Borrowed from the art of rhetoric, Leon Battista Alberti used concinnitās to describe the inherent beauty of nature from which architecture ought to be inspired. In Alberti’s view, the ‘art of building’ went beyond the physical form, and was equally concerned with the effect of buildings on their users, their surroundings, and on the city. This notion did not refer to an innate or insular beauty, but one that was created from a correspondence and a relationship with its context and its outside.

Concinnitās, and the concept of a ‘beautiful whole’ in architecture, have been widely interpreted since then, from Le Corbusier’s standardized ideals to Aldo Van Eyck’s definition of wholeness and Christopher Alexander’s mathematical order, among others. The question of architecture as an amalgamation of diverse systems, processes, relationships, and elements that come together for the creation of a meaningful space is still salient today.

How do we conceive buildings within contemporary environments, and what underlies the ruls of architecture’s relationship to the urban realm? Can we reconsider architecture’s meaning and effect as intrinsic and inseparable from notions of form, material, scale, and context? What would be the architectural preconditions for a beautiful whole today?

Scroope 28 will include submissions that aim to redefine concinnitās, and to negotiate the interdisciplinary nature of architectural discourse with the complex processes that shape architectural praxis. The issue seeks to question the relevance and continuity of this classical ‘ideal’ and its implicit values in our contemporary understanding and practice of architecture.