International Competitions in Architecture
A HOUSE FOR JANUS
No, Janus didn’t suffer from what we call today, somewhat conveniently, Bipolar Disorder! Nor did those Romans who invented him…! It is true, Janus was looking both ways, somewhat like the divine Hermes before him… And like the beautifully human Goethe much longer after him…! Wasn’t it Goethe who was searching through the darkness of the Black Forest for that mysterious primordial plant (the "Ur-plant") which gave birth to all other plants and which, he thought, had a built-in duality…? And wasn’t it Goethe who said, in Faust: “Alas, two souls are dwelling in my heart…?” The theme of “two-ness,” to use the exasperated language of Peter Eisenman, is as old as the world itself.
So we ask you to design a House for Janus, now that the month of January (which took its name directly from him) is almost here…! Yes, design a house for this fascinating god looking both ways, towards the past and towards the future, this god of doorways and gateways, this god who had temples in his name built in Rome, home of a still standing Arch of Janus…!
And if you love beginnings, any beginnings, then designing for Janus is almost a duty, since he was the god of beginnings par excellence, the god who gave a name to the very beginning of the year, January…!
Design then The House of Beginnings, A House for Janus! Design a house that refuses to accept the language of today’s pathology (physiological and psychological alike) and recognizes the built in dualities of the world, as they always were, and are!
Design A House for Janus, this beautiful god of beginnings, doorways and gateways…!
And recognize, together with Kahn, that beginnings, indeed, are in harmony with the human nature…!