If there is anything that characterizes modern architecture, it is its denial of locality and culture. Modern architects proclaim their freedom from traditional restraint by putting up their eccentric structures wherever they wish. They tend to disregard many of the cultural elements of the people nearby. Traditionally, architecture was the legitimate expression of a people and its culture. Today, it tends to be an expression of disconnected global institutions with no links to localities. What is missing is a correct vision of society.
Design professor Philip Bess claims that, “we no longer make traditional architecture and urbanism because a precondition of making them is a shared metaphysical realist view of the world embodied and transmitted by institutions—and that is precisely what is lacking in modernity.” (Philip Bess, “Metaphysical Realism, Modernity, and Traditional Cultures of Building,” found in Wilfred M. McClay and Ted V. McAllister, eds., Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America, Encounter Books, New York, 2014, p.133)
Bess continues by claiming that the fundamental metaphysical premises of all pre-modern cultures are based on three ideas. The first is that the world is real and the concept of place can be established. The second premise is that one can truly know the world and thus know the treasures and possibilities nearby. Finally, society flourishes when its members conform themselves to reality as it is truly known.
When these three premises are in place, then a society can enjoy the pleasures of a truly traditional architecture linked to reality. Then architecture can take its proper place as a magnificent and unique expression of a people.