Anthony Maniatis, lecturer of the Cultural Environment and New Technologies Department of Ioannina University
Σχ. 1 Ο πολιτιστικός «πυρήνας» (ευρύτερη περιοχή Αθηναϊκής Τριλογίας) και το πολιτιστικό «πέταλο» του κέντρου της Αθήνας
Σχ. 1 Ο πολιτιστικός «πυρήνας» (ευρύτερη περιοχή Αθηναϊκής Τριλογίας) και το πολιτιστικό «πέταλο» του κέντρου της Αθήνας

Traditio - Modernum - Post-modernum -Post-modernum et traditio

Tradition constitutes an element of inspiration for Art linked with historical past. It is also an important point of reference for Science and is regarded as an element deserving public protection.
Civilization environment includes the residential civilization goods, such as districts and towns, with which the movement of modernism is anyway linked. It comprises also the cultural heritage, to which paragraph 6 of article 24 of Greek Constitution refers. More concretely, “Monuments, traditional regions and traditional elements are protected by the State. Law will define the necessary for the realization of this protection restricting measures of property as well as the mode and the kind of indemnification of proprietors”.
For instance, listed buildings, which constitute a particular category of traditional elements, may be submitted up to two parallel legislative statutes of protection, of the General Building Regulation, usually implicating competence of the Ministry of Environment, Zoning and Public Works and besides of the Ministry of Culture.
From the angle of the notion of tradition, it would be useful to examine modern and particularly postmodern.

The modern period of the history of architecture begins in the penultimate decade of nineteenth century. In that period architecture has the characteristic that is a part of a world civilization. The punctual development of the relevant new principles on a big scale started in the USA. In Chicago man can localize the first “skyscraper”, the first systematic study and use of a tall building of offices as well as the development of a style fitting in with the new techniques.
A merely scientific analysis of the function and of the human habits and its architectural interpretation in terms of casing or steel are supposed to produce a universal solution for a problem. Such a thing however presupposes on the one hand no special respect for tradition and on the other hand no intentional indifference for that. Anyway, despite its awkwardness, it is about an amazing rhythm, as tough as the one of Ancient Rome but also exceptionally robust. And this conclusion is to accept, along with all its consequences, or not.
Modern often coexists with various cultural monumenta in the frame of the same residential whole. For instance, like most cities of Northwestern Europe today, the Dutch city of Leiden constitutes one of the examples of a living city which combines the medieval element of its historical center with modern, in a singular way, characterized by the fact that any kind of development and intervention in the place (new buildings, restorations of old buildings, streets) presupposes respect for the already existing urban web and for the historical character of the city.

The aforementioned movement of modernism has caused a problem upon its acceptance, there is also a big dilemma on a posterior movement. It is about the postmodernism tendency, whose the emergence coincides historically with the various question movements of the seventh decade of twentieth century. More concretely, on the field of architecture, modern constructions that have in their façade the retro element cause embarrassment as to their physiognomy. Their stylish identity is contemporary but it is endowed with heteroclite elements coming from rhythms of other eras, and as a result the “international” rhythm of modernism is combined with the architectural tradition, which has mainly a national status.
It is to signalize that no society characterizes itself as a traditional one for the elements that it produces. Tradition signifies what no more belongs to its proprietor but has been legated to his successors. So, by definition postmodern is not traditional for the current society in spite of the fact that it comprises explicit elements of this category. However, it mainly includes modern, which has the upper hand in terms of extent and importance against traditional and focuses on the future, in the sense of the tendency to be proved functional by resisting against time.
Given that modern and postmodern basically coincide, it is to investigate the further dimension of the second as to the first. Postmodern constitutes a kind of a critical version of the common data that are typical for the present. As the dominant forms and the institutionalized mechanisms are not always exempted from problems, the new School of thought has the tendency to develop them towards something else, by borrowing elements of other eras. Tradition abstracted from the current reality may not be a good adviser but some of its elements can color or even right established figures of the present.
The international spiritual movement of romanticism, revolving around the non-real in combination with the exaltation of human feelings instead of the logic, tended towards yesterday. Moreover, it is to pay attention to the fact that Greek romanticism is not essentially identified with the European one because in most cases it constitutes its false interpretation. Without social demands, tear-jerker and often counterfeit in the demonstration of its inclination for death, uncontrollably emotional, adherent of old modes of life, it did not deny even the traditional for that era faithfulness to the oratorial speech. That linguistic traditio of those times, on the contrary, has inspired enough dry verses in it.
Contrarily mainly to the Greek ersatz of this historical School of thought, postmodern should not be assessed as conservative. Indeed, it would be unfair to accept this blame, coming from the place of modernism that considers that essentially the new movement is not new because it represents a "gentrification".

Post-modernum et traditio
If postmodern manages to face successfully the criticism of modernism, it challenges the Greek intellectual community as the national experience should not constitute a conservative ersatz of the international model, as it is the case of romanticism. Postmodern may also be proved to be beneficial for the various traditional elements as it is suitable not simply for the promotion but also for the upgrade of distinguished elements of tradition, by revivifying therefore the research for the traditional itself, in its pure form.
Finally, tradition is renewable and polymorphic.

R. Furneau-Jordan, A concise history of western architecture, Editions Infrastructure Athens 1981 (Editions of the original work: Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1969).
A. Maniatis, Introduction to the Social Sciences Seminar, Ant. N. Sakkoulas Publishers Athens – Komotini 2006.
A. Maniatis, Protection of architectural and natural heritage, May 2008,
A. Maniatis, The legislation on the protection of architectural heritage, May 2008,
Th. Vionis, Modern city in old shells: an itinerancy in Leiden (Holland), 28/02/2007,