When I look through history I can't help but always be interested in how people think, and how architecture reflects that thought process of people. How even religion and the dominant philosophy reflect people's dealings with the environment.
Take these two radically different pictures of the same German city, Trier:
Two pictures of civilization yet they couldn't be more different. The first picture shows a model of the city based on Ancient Roman values, a society that placed great value on (scientific) knowledge, reflected in the attempt to achieve mathematical precision. It creates a predictable landscape. The Romans used their formula wherever they went and spread their civilization. They had clear standards in how a city ought to look. The second picture shows the mindset of the medieval (Catholic) Christians. Important buildings were at the center of civilization, such as castles or churches, at the center of a town. There was no desire to achieve mathematical precision, except for elite buildings, as towns were built on hilltops. A map of a medieval town contains logic, but is still rather messy.
One mindset shows an emphasis on mastery and precision, the other on adaptation. We could say both mindsets try to achieve ''harmony'', but in different ways.
In our modern industrial world, it is easy to see that the classical mindset has 'won' the war of minds. Most new buildings, houses, flats etc. usually follow less natural and aesthetic guidelines but technical-rational ones. They follow the gods of efficiency and rationality. Math becomes the god and for the last couple of centuries, even God has been viewed as the greatest mathematician.
Which mindset do you prefer, and why?
I am a hopeless romantic and whilst I appreciate and respect the classical mindset, I find there to be more beauty in the adaptive approach of the medieval Christians. Their landscape shows a diversity of classical elements (the churches themselves), but the landscape still gives great hints of nature and reflect a people that aim to adapt to their environment, instead of an unending hunger for mastery over the natural world. This balance to me is the more harmonious solution.