Population explosion and the global rise of nationalism, unsettled communal conflicts, and unethical political conduct. Baring the social distancing norms, nothing else makes this year stand-out. Be it for democratic debates or silent protests, the shelter still accounts for a political right. Architecture being the provider of shelter still thrives just as a negotiator (between designers and builders, between laws and technologies). A humble second-degree connection lies between Politics and Architecture.
Judicial laws and political involvement have been the key influencers on architecture and urbanity through decades. The architectural practices of the contemporary world have eventually co-evolved with legal and political practices. Thus, came the term ‘Politics of Architecture’.
Architecture and its Political Potentials
Architecture has always been the reflection of its era, of the beliefs and functions shaped into form. Alternatively, it has been a significant mode of setting-up a power statement for the political faces. Prominent structures of any place are added to the laurels of the governing figure of the time. With the shift in design and development perspectives, civil projects are now articulated by the political and legal terms along with architecture and planning. It now unveils social traditions of its past, a picture of the present, and political aspirations of the future.
Architecture serves as a visual metaphor for the ideologies running the institution it represents. Designers imbibed elegance within the structure together with showcasing the political philosophy. Politics of Architecture revealed the understanding and opinions of the ruling authority and was used as a way of enforcing their view on the population, playing a subtle chance to carry on the power.
Monumental architecture from history provided attributes and charisma to their structures and also established a relationship with the political framework. This is evident that architecture being a humanities discipline can perform politically through times. It has an agreeable potential of talking into complex matters, starting debates, and resolving issues with a social dimension and political high stakes.
Politics over Architecture over Politics
The world’s major archaic political architecture was all about clean lines and austere appearance having an intimidating scale. Big institutions were precise and studied but not anymore.
1. The Glorious Rome
To no surprise, the Roman empire is remembered to date for its magnificent architecture. Roman temples, the basilicas, and historic bridges all were elements that played their part in the establishment and extended reign of the Roman rule. Architecture is characterized by its geometry, axial symmetry, and overwhelming column orders. Not to forget the rhythm and repetition. Buildings of the period speak of the firm and power centered governance of the empire.
2. Building of the Nazi Empire
Stark facades and clean lines! The absolute orders of the Nazi theorists were replicated on the faces of their structures. Massive dominant scale and rigid pilasters, an architectural aesthetic to demonstrate control and power. Focusing on the creation of public buildings, the politics here evolved a new title of intimidating architecture. Inspired by the Roman Pantheon and Colosseum, the Nazi rule was all planned to use architecture as a tool to make its mark impactful and long-lasting.
3. British Colonial Rule in India
Capitals capture the dreams of the natives and also the expectations of all others. Talking of Politics over Architecture, Delhi experienced a drastic makeover during the two centuries of the British colonial rule in India. Diverse in nature with the existing structures from and before the Mughal period, British architecture provided Delhi with a new face. Symmetry, the hierarchy of state buildings, and an artful expression of Indian traditional architecture characterized the colonial design. Exuding superiority and power, it had a single intention to continue the British legacy.
4. Architecture in Brasilia
Once seen as a modern utopia, the capital city of Brazil was inaugurated with optimism and expressed trust in the future. Radically planned by Lúcio Costa and adorned by the remarkable edifices of Oscar Neimeyer, the bold monumental city illustrated the future aspirations of its global image. The city is evident that with progressive ideals, iconic architecture, and the right political environment, a shiny future is all achievable.
5. Chandigarh Capitol Complex
Built as the ‘dream city’ of the first Prime Minister of India, Chandigarh is known as one of the most successful experiments in urban planning. Designed by Le Corbusier, the city is a fine example that marks the instance of the outset of modern architecture in the country. Open to spread its virtues and ready to take what the world has to offer; Chandigarh is designed using the principles of brutalist architecture and is noted as the rise of new India.
Take on Politics of Architecture
Politics and Architecture both have been tested and torn apart at times. It is now time to look beyond the ideology of consensus and face the conflict of reality. Today’s political approach towards a prosperous society lacks a credible vision for tomorrow, this is where architecture should step in. Something more public than politics is architecture, from building houses to memorials.
Making cities healthier, reducing poverty and crimes. Finding a mid-way to prevent revolutions, these are goals that stand common for politics and architecture.
Architecture is changing, the professional essence is being degraded. To lessen the risk of it being reduced down to mere decorative arts, the Politics of Architecture needs to evolve. Creating designs that face the cultural challenge, negotiate between public and politics, and advocate broader discussions. Good architecture is not ‘what the future will be?’ It is about leading ways towards ‘what we want it to be’.