Even in the old world, everyday buildings define culture and character

Photo by Constantine E. MichaelidesChurches and chapels comprise the Aegean Islands’ most distinctive architectural forms.The history of architecture is largely the history of official buildings commissioned by ruling elites. Yet with the home improvement market expected to reach record-high levels in 2003, it is worth remembering that the true character of any city or town rests largely on the vernacular traditions of ordinary, often architecturally untrained citizens. In his forthcoming book The Aegean Crucible, Constantine E. Michaelides, emeritus dean and professor of the School of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, explains how many of the Greek island’s most defining forms were developed by local builders responding to particular climatic, cultural and political circumstances.