The lack of decision making of politics and governance in a time when major societal changes occur at an increasingly faster pace and the dissatisfaction with the decision process makes room for bottom-up actions, activism and bold endeavors. Design or art in a broader sense has been an ignition for a lot of revolutionary statements. Throughout history, we have seen that a lot of cities and buildings were trying to make political statements or establishing political ideologies. These buildings and spaces may not have a direct impact on our lives however they do hold a valuable influence in showing the kind of governance or political inclination. 

Here are 10 cities with political influence on architecture and urban design: 

1. A-KAMP 47, Marseilles, France

A housing structure for the homeless in an industrial site of Marseille’s, France. Stephane Malka’s marks as a critic of the housing committee of France. It takes inspiration from Le Corbusier’s Unite d’ Habitation. In this project, Malka creates walls out of tents and hence makes them temporary in nature. The design is a commentary on the global housing crisis and the easy to install and durable nature of this structure seems to provide a temporary solution to the housing in times of emergency and crisis.

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A – KAMP 47 © www.archdaily.com/461696/a-kamp47-stephane-malka

2. Urban Planning of China

It has been said by famous Chinese philosopher Wang Hui, that Socialism was the door through which China has voyaged and that door was opened by Russia for China. It is ironic that models of society imported from Russia during the Soviet period as realized in popular culture, urban planning architecture, legal apparatuses, showing particular interest in cyclists. It has been alleged that China follows some of the ideologies of Stalinist modernism. Around the 1949s, a group of Soviet experts arrived in Beijing to help the new government to set up town planning regulations.  

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China ©www.archdaily.com/530434/re-made-in-china-the-soviet-era-planning-projects-shaping-china-s-cities

3. Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concert complex, Armenia

The Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concert complex is a large entertainment complex, which is at the capital of Armenia, Yerevan. The structure resembles a large bird with its wings wide open, which symbolizes superiority and freedom. The most interesting aspect of the structure is the 184 steps that lead to the Tsitsernakaberd Hill as well as a turning tribune which provides additional seating.

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Armenia ©Wikipedia Commons

4. St. Petersburg sports complex, Russia

This complex sits on the Moskovsky District, a commercial complex that includes Moscow Avenue, Victory Park, and the sports complex. The complex is known to have housed various events. However, in recent years, the structure has been contested to be renovated or demolished or rebuilt. However, to date, it stands tall and has not undergone any demolishing.

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St. Petersburg ©www.archdaily.com/945559/eastern-bloc-architecture-culture-and-leisure

5. Dostoyevsky Drama Theatre, Russia

This building is known to be an eccentric building that had been under construction for 20 years. Although at first glance the building seems brutalist and is located in foreshortening on the embankment of the Volkhov River. The structure is known well for the relationship with the context and the local heritage.

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Russia ©www.archdaily.com/945559/eastern-bloc-architecture-culture-and-leisure

6. V. Lenin Palace of Sports, Kyrgyzstan

The V. Lenin Palace of Sports is a multidisciplinary sports complex. It was without a doubt one of the most recognizable structures in the Soviet Union. The trusses and facades are the highlights of the structure. The rest of the facades have geometric bas-relief details and unique texture to the concrete, or they break out with sculptures such as the spiral staircase. 

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V. Lenin Palace ©www.archdaily.com/945559/eastern-bloc-architecture-culture-and-leisure

7. Park(ing), San Francisco 

Public space in any part of the world is a very important space for people to gather. It is a place for everyone and for everything. The Rebar’s Park is a project where people occupy an empty unused space in the city and occupy it with chairs, tables and make it a park in some sense. The initiative started in San Francisco as an initiative to make people aware of activism in architecture. 

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San Francisco ©www.archdaily.com/945659/the-political-dimension-of-architecture-activism-through-design

8. South Bombay, India

The South Bombay areas of the city of Mumbai are known to be made during the British rule in India. The planning of that side of the city is very interconnected and monumental in nature today. It takes inspiration from the nature of building in Britain during their rule. The facades display a mix of Roman and Gothic structure and have a large number of pediments and various ornamentations to show that this was the administrative part of the city and hence even today this part of the city is predominantly occupied by the various important personals and houses the High Court, the Victoria Terminus, etc. 

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South Bombay ©www.shadowsgalore.com/2013/03/travelers-guide-to-south-mumbai/

9. Roman Empire Planning, Rome

“All roads lead to Rome.” This famous line has been used multiple times over the course of various literature however, this is in fact based on reality. During the rule of the Roman Empire, the city was planned due to the increase in population and the need to regulate the settlement of people. Rome is known to be one of the few cities that follow an orthogonal layout. The city took care of water supply, drainage even though it is heavily sloping. 

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Rome ©www.tes.com/lessons/V8L2zh7wOZS4Xg/town-planning-under-the-roman-empire

10. French Communistic Party, Paris

The headquarters building of the French Communist Party is one of Oscar Neiymar’s initial works. The building has a perfect balance of open space and architectural volume. The building tries to demonstrate the idea of harmony between the volumes and exterior spaces and thus we find that the worker’s hall is located underground which follows the principles of communalism.

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Paris ©www.archdaily.com/892597/ad-classics-french-communist-party-headquarters-oscar-niemeyer

References:

Author

Sreenidhi is a young architect learning to combine the knowledge of architecture with writing. She is a pass out from Institute of Architecture and Planning, Nirma University and has varied interests in the field of Architecture. Her primary interests revolve around sustainable design techniques and the relationship between cinema and architecture.

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