Learning with Abstraction
Stoà #01

Modelli Stoà journal #01

"The vestibule mosaic above the South Door of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul depicts a frontal scene with four figures: in the middle of the composition we see Mary with child Christ on her lap, left from her stands emperor Justinian and on the right emperor Constantine. Both emperors hold two architectural models in their hands; Justinian presents Hagia Sophia’s scale model and Constantine a fortress-like object representing the city of Constantinople. They offer both the temple and the city to Mary and Christ, symbolically dedicating them to Christianity. As an obviously anachronistic composition the scene tells the fictive story of Hagia Sophia’s inauguration four hundred years prior to the making of the mosaic during the 10th century AD. The model of Hagia Sophia seems rather accurate while the model of Constantinople gives the impression of a highly abstracted version of the city. However, both are representative artefacts, just as architectural models have been used until mid of 15th century. The architectural model was mainly made after the actual building was completed and it was put in tombs of deceased rulers or given as a gift, like in the mosaic depiction in Hagia Sophia. The model was the miniature replica of the realised architectural project; a custom which still today is applied even to the scale of key hangers fitting iconic buildings into jacket pockets. "

The essay on the role of models in architectural education is published in the first issue of Stoà journal.

Edited by: Alberto Calderoni, Carlo Gandolfi, Jacopo Leveratto, Antonio Nitti, with the support of Fabrizio Ballabio, Tommaso Brighenti