Like any art form and art revolution does, architecture also has been found to have a major influence on politics. A lot of architects have tried to explore the effects that architecture can have on politics and rightly so. The need to serve the community is one of the qualities of a good architect. Although it may not influence politics directly, the indirect nature of how politics is influenced is something one must be aware of.

1. Gandhi and his architecture

When India was fighting for its freedom, Gandhiji was trying to incorporate ideas of sustainable living and using local materials. The idea that Gandhiji’s many ashram functions are that they are self-sustaining and provide enough for everyone living there. The spaces in the ashrams of Gandhi are known to have separate functional spaces that integrate together. The spaces were made in such a way that the user is involved in certain activities fully. The Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad is a functioning example of this ideology. The Gandhi ashram had different huts for each of the devotees of Gandhiji and the independence movement. The various buildings of Gandhi were built on his philosophies of self-sustenance and self-reliance, using locally available materials, etc. which has been adopted by various architects such as Charles Correa, Laurie Baker, Hunnarshala, etc. The time in which these architects built was shifting the shape of architecture and shaping what was trying to become the identity for India and Indian architecture.

2. Nazi architecture

Nazi architecture has known to have been brutalist in nature. With the regime of Adolf Hitler, the Nazis built a lot of institutional buildings during their regime. They built various concentration camps and government buildings that were an adaptation of the brutalist architecture. The Nazi architecture had a few elements that helped them reflect their idealogy like flat roofs, horizontal extensions, lack of decor, and uniformity. The buildings that were made by Hitler were in an attempt to remove the neoclassical style of buildings that were prevalent at that time. The building was more formal and regimented than any other building made, even the making of these buildings were done in a brutalist sort of way.

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Architecture as a political act - Sheet2

3. Le Corbusier’s Radiant City

Le Corbusier apart from his works at various houses and town planning strategies, his idea of the Radiant City is the one that has been extensively questioned. His idea was to build vertical cities that had large shared spaces in between them. The resulting horizontal corridors would help to regulate the traffic and movement of vehicles in the city. The inspiration for this was through the human body where each function has a designated part to do that function and yet the whole organism comes together as one.

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Resilient city ©Pinterest

4. Berlin-Free-Zone

The artistic interpretation of Lebbeus Woods, his writings, and his works were an attempt to channel the existing architecture to build an interpretation of an equalist space. One such interpretation is that of the Berlin Free zone, made in the 1990s where a government building in Berlin that has been abandoned has been interpreted to be a free space for everyone. The proposal was to use a building that has been a part of social conflict to become a level ground and be a free space.

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Berlin free Zone ©ResearchGate

5. US- Mexico border

The recent conflict at the US and Mexico border has caused a lot of trouble around the border. The Wall built on the border has been a cause of a lot of power for Trump during the previous election. Ronald Rael, an architectural professor, had started his quest in 2009 named as Teetertotter Wall in an attempt to reimagine public infrastructure. Although this did not change much in the election scenario; there was an extensive study that went behind this project. The project in a way brought people between the borders together and saw children playing. The installation helped in making even adults bring back childhood memories of playing in a see-saw. The use of taking a playing tool in the middle of conflict is one that is amazing as it makes you empathize with each side and unities.

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Berlin free Zone ©ResearchGateThese are some of the ways in which architecture has tried to evoke political talk. The idea of architecture is not to change ideology at once but be a catalyst in the process of change. It is only with the help of art, architecture, and literature that the world has witnessed some phenomenal art and architectural movements. As architects of our time, it should always be an attempt to question the existing notion of space and to break the ideas behind it.


Sreenidhi Iyer

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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