Urartian stylisation

Due to scarcity of historical and visual materials, the overall image of Urartian architecture, which is believed as from 1960s to be the ancestor of Armenian architecture, was associated with an enclosed, plain wall structure recalling a fortress or the Mesopotamian palaces, which were better known and hence were probably acting as the first association to quote architecturally. One of the first buildings to showcase a stylised Urartian design was the museum of Erebuni, housing Urartian art. At later stages, the idea of a plain wall citadel-looking architecture was repeated in several other building, the museum of Stepan Shahumyan or the ‘univermag’ of Ashtarak among others. 


Buildings of this style were built in red tuff stone, had rather laconic architecture with the aesthetics of the plain, mute, stone clad wall as the mаin architectural theme. Tuff clad stone walls showcased unique interplay of stones of different shades of red or brown turning the wall into a self-sufficient architectural theme. Other elements that were used to accentuate the surface of walls were narrow or round windows-another reminiscent of Urartian architecture. Scarce ornamentation, that was used to align the contours of windows was equally reminding dented geometrical ornamental patterns used in Urartian architecture.

One of the proponents of this tendency, who developed it almost to the level of post-modernistic interpretation, was Armen Aghalyan. Whilst he kept the red line of plain wall principle, wealth of ornamentation, bass-reliefs and other decorative elements that he used abundantly in his buildings would transcend the minimalist aesthetics of the so called Urartian style and even that of modernism, making it stand closer to post-modernism rather than modernism itself.

He also often opted for manufactured concrete bris-soleil wall modules of complex geometric shapes that would eventually turn his buildings into fully ornamented, sculptural urban objects.   

Read more about this tendency in the interview with the ethnographer Levon Abrahamyan