Majorca has managed with particular fervour to preserve a series of Roman construction designs which define the architectural identity of the island. It was the Romans who carried out the most laborious standardisation of construction techniques and their continued existence in our surroundings is more than obvious.
Miquel Ramis explains in, “The Survival of Roman Designs in Typical Majorcan Architecture” that we tend to resort to the Islamic period to explain many of the old and most distinctive elements of our architecture. We attribute Islamic traits to some of the oldest examples of our culture yet even they are inherited from previous cultures and have very often been improved by Roman experts.
But beyond distinguishing whether Roman or Islamic or even from ancient Egypt, the National Convention on the History of Construction (Congreso Nacional de Historia de la Construcción), held in Cádiz in 2005, offers a different take on the word “tradition”, a sadly overused term and from which we have managed to remove the best part of its meaning. Ramis points to ‘a summary of the best practices and designs of hundreds of generations of builders’ and vehemently criticises the current obsession of architects to leave their own personal stamp.
This encourages reflection and provides new topics for discussion to those who are intimately battling egos and signature landmarks, discarding – often along the way – a reality called “tradition”. The simplicity that allows one to recognise that architecture perhaps consists in simply being, whilst also paying attention to everything we once were.