Portico in front of the library. A partial view of the exterior and a detail of the portico wall
The profound difference between interior and exterior, which surprises and perturbs anyone approaching Armenian architecture fort particularly if still accustomed to thinking in terms of Western planning methods, is however, as is well-known, typical of the Eastern world. But perhaps the presumed difference in the attention given to the spatial element is in reality unsubstantiated.
Of course one should not think of the monument as an isolated object, cut of from its surrounding environment. This viewpoint reduces it to a "kind" of simple sculpture, even though carefully planned and "crystalline", and therefore completely in keeping with the analogously perfect mathematical layout of the interior.
In fact the relationship, in the visual field, between the massive block of the church as a fixed reference point in the foreground and the surrounding natural context, which rotates around the symmetrical volume of the architecture, produces an effect both of controlled and at the same time almost indefinite spatiality, on a perspective field of 360’. It is well-know, and not by chance, that since they stem from a common classical model the planning criteria of the early Italian Renaissance have also been considered in this light, because of the attention given to creating unified, controlled, internal spaces, both in buildings and in urban landscapes, and also because of the use of landscape in a spatial vision revolving around the architecture. If these observations are relevant in general for every Armenian building, the planning methodology of the "crystalline aggregation" type is shown more clearly in the monasterial complexes, where the juxtaposition of several architectural styles, with differing volumes that have, however, been in equal measure constructed and planned, even though they may seem to be in a picturesque disorder, derives in reality from a careful process of germination.