Imagine a postapocalyptic world. Beside the ruined buildings of our own civilization – St. Peter’s Basilica, the Taj Mahal, those really great Art Deco skyscrapers – dwell savages in mud huts. The savages see the buildings every day, but they never compose legends about how they were built by the gods in a lost golden age. No, they say they themselves could totally build things just as good or better. They just choose to build mud huts instead, because they’re more stylish.
This is the setup for my all-time favorite conspiracy theory, Tartaria. Its true believers say we are those savages. We live in the shadow of the Taj Mahal, Art Deco skyscrapers, etc. But our buildings look like this*:
So (continues the conspiracy) probably we suffered some kind of apocalypse a hundred-ish years ago. Our elites are keeping it quiet, and have altered the records, but they haven’t been able to destroy all the buildings of the lost world. Their cover story is that technology and wealth level haven’t regressed or anything, those kinds of buildings have just “gone out of style”.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, as a heavily illustrated Twitter thread collated with the Thread Reader app notes:
How old do you think this building is?
Well, it’s not as old as you might guess: it was built in 1967.
Here’s its story (and why architectural style is always a choice…)
It’s the great Cloth Hall of Ypres, a town in Belgium, built between 1933 and 1967.
But that doesn’t tell the full story, of course. It’s actually a stone-for-stone reconstruction of the original Cloth Hall, completed in 1304.
* * * * * * * *
Perhaps the most interesting thing about these reconstructions is that they were even possible.
Much modern architecture is wonderful – but, as with any style, much of it isn’t. Nonetheless, we get the impression that other, older styles just aren’t feasible any more.
The Tartarian empire does indeed still live, if you know where to look for it.
* Author’s photo of Google’s HQ building replaced with a photo we have the rights to use.