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Politics: The Latest Architecture and News

Architecture of Power: Short Story Award

18:00 - 31 January, 2019
Architecture of Power: Short Story Award, Architecture of Power: Short Story Award
Architecture of Power: Short Story Award

Welcome to 2019; polarizing political views are an ever-present reality and it doesn't seem to be improving. Whether you live in the US or on the other side of the globe our environments are actors in the theater of influence. What happens when design becomes part of the equation? How does architecture and the built-environment play a role in the social and political lives of the people in power and those on the fringes?

Write a short story that puts into narrative how you think about architecture's role in power. How does it aid the status quo or give opportunity for

AD Classics: French Communist Party Headquarters / Oscar Niemeyer

09:30 - 23 April, 2018
© Denis Esakov
© Denis Esakov

In March 1972, an article in The Architectural Review proclaimed that this structure was “probably the best building in Paris since Le Corbusier’s Cité de Refuge for the Salvation Army.”[1] The article was, of course, referring to Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s first project in Europe: the French Communist Party Headquarters in Paris, France, built between 1967 and 1980. Having worked with Le Corbusier on the 1952 United Nations Building in New York and recently finished the National Congress as well as additional iconic government buildings in Brasilia, Niemeyer was no stranger to the intimate relationship between architecture and political power.[2]

© Denis Esakov © Denis Esakov © Denis Esakov © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/o_0/29118795843/'>Flickr user Guilhem Vellut</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a> + 37

Have Your Say on the Landscape of Emerging Practices With the Interactive Architectural Political Compass

06:00 - 6 November, 2017

If you were to identify, categorize and map the 21st century’s emergent architectural practices from the world over, all on one diagram, what would it look like? Considering how the current architectural landscape consists of several different approaches, attitudes and political stances, how would you map them without being too reductive? And how would you ensure that out of hundreds of emergent practices and firms across the globe, you don’t leave anyone out? Perhaps the Global Architectural Political Compass V 0.2 could offer a clue.

Created by Alejandro Zaera-Polo and Guillermo Fernandez-Abascal, the diagram is part of an ongoing inquiry into “the state of the art in (global) architectural practice” [1]. In 2016, Zaera-Polo explored the subject in a comprehensive essay for El Croquis titled “Well into the 21st Century” in which he set down the framework for 11 political categories that now form the compass diagram.

Andrés Jaque: "Architecture Is Always Political"

18:00 - 30 October, 2017

In the context of the XX Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism in Chile, we spoke with the Spanish architect Andrés Jaque, founder of the Office for Political Innovation. In a conversation named Lucha Libre Jaque argued that "all architects are politicians" by default and the real question is what forms of policy we are willing to defend.

MoMA PS1 YAP 2015 - COSMO / Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation. Image © Miguel de Guzmán Escaravox / Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation. Image © Miguel de Guzmán Super Powers of Ten / Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation. Image © Jorge López Conde Casa en Never Never Land / Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation. Image © Miguel de Guzmán + 5

RIBA Criticizes UK Government's Housing Promise: "It Just Won’t Meet the Scale of Investment Needed"

11:20 - 4 October, 2017
RIBA Criticizes UK Government's Housing Promise: "It Just Won’t Meet the Scale of Investment Needed", Last week, the RIBA awarded Neave Brown the 2018 RIBA Gold Medal. Brown is known for his work on progressive social housing projects, including the Alexandra Road Estate, shown here. Image © RIBA Collections
Last week, the RIBA awarded Neave Brown the 2018 RIBA Gold Medal. Brown is known for his work on progressive social housing projects, including the Alexandra Road Estate, shown here. Image © RIBA Collections

Earlier today, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May made her closing speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. In a speech which focused on the fallout of Brexit and the economy, May devoted considerable attention to the issue of the UK housing market, announcing a plan to add £2 billion to the government's existing £7 billion affordable housing fund—a fund which local governments, private housebuilders, and housing associations can apply to for grants to subsidize construction of affordable housing.

However, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has strongly criticized the government's proposal, arguing that £2 billion will not be nearly enough to address the scale of the problem—by most estimates, the country is falling short of housing demand by hundreds of thousands of units annually, and house prices are increasingly out of reach for the young and the poor. In response, the RIBA argues for a much greater investment in social housing, highlighting its recent decision to award its Gold Medal to 20th Century social housing architect Neave Brown and stating that "we need a concerted program of public investment in new social housing across the country and that means spending a lot more than was announced today." Read on for RIBA President Ben Derbyshire's full statement:

Global Architectural Political Event London

14:43 - 29 May, 2017
Global Architectural Political Event London, Global Architectural Political Event London_AA
Global Architectural Political Event London_AA

‘Global Architectural Political Events’ are a series of public debates organised by Alejandro Zaera-Polo & Guillermo Fernandez-Abascal that continue the investigation about the political re-engagement of the discipline, as analysed in the essay ‘Well into the 21st Century’ and the ‘Global Architectural Compass’.

How Architecture Tells the Story of Conflict and Peace in Northern Ireland

06:00 - 11 May, 2017
How Architecture Tells the Story of Conflict and Peace in Northern Ireland, Over the past fifty years, Northern Ireland has transitioned from war to peace © Robinson McIllwaine Architects / Hufton+Crow / Flickr user: placeni / Flickr user: dr_john2005 / Wikipedia Commons User: Fribbler
Over the past fifty years, Northern Ireland has transitioned from war to peace © Robinson McIllwaine Architects / Hufton+Crow / Flickr user: placeni / Flickr user: dr_john2005 / Wikipedia Commons User: Fribbler

Architecture is often intertwined with political context. This deep connection is especially evident in Northern Ireland, a place of infamously complex politics. The state came into existence as a consequence of war in 1921, when Ireland was partitioned into an independent Irish Free State (now the Republic of Ireland) and Northern Ireland, an industrious region still controlled by Britain. Conflict has since ensued in Northern Ireland between a majority pro-British Unionist population, and a minority, though significant, Irish Nationalist community. The latter half of the twentieth century witnessed a brutal struggle, with over three thousand people killed, thousands more injured, and harrowing images spread across the world.

The turbulence of Northern Ireland’s conflict is played out in the architectural development of Belfast, its capital city. With thirty years of war from the 1960s to 1990s, the architecture of Belfast embodied a city under siege. When the prospect of peace dawned in the 1990s, an architecture of hope, confidence, and defiance emerged. In the present day, with Northern Ireland firmly on a peaceful path, Belfast has played host to a series of bold architectural ideas and landmark public buildings by award-winning architects. With the rich, bitter, emotive history of Northern Ireland viewed through multiple, often conflicting prisms, the architectural development of Belfast offers a tangible narrative of a city which burned, smoldered, and rose from the ashes.

Aftermath of the 1975 Mountainview Tavern bombing in Belfast © User: Tdv123 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA-4.0 The Titanic Centre, Belfast © Flickr user placeni. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) The Lyric Theatre by O'Donnell & Tuomey Architects © Dennis Gilbert The Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre by Heneghan & Peng © Hufton+Crow + 20

This Underground Bathhouse on the Korean Border Questions Architecture's Role in Geopolitical Tension

09:30 - 8 April, 2017
This Underground Bathhouse on the Korean Border Questions Architecture's Role in Geopolitical Tension, Courtesy of Studio M.R.D.O.
Courtesy of Studio M.R.D.O.

Since 1953, the 160-mile (260 kilometer) strip of land along the Korean Peninsula's 38th parallel has served as a Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ is more than a border; it's a heavily guarded, nearly four-mile-wide (6 kilometer) buffer zone between the two countries. Each military stays behind its own country's edge of the zone, perpetually awaiting potential conflict, and access to the interior of the zone itself is unyieldingly limited. Apart from the landmines and patrolling troops, the interior of the DMZ also holds thriving natural ecosystems that have been the subject of studies on what happens when wildlife is allowed to flourish in the absence of human contact.

In a competition that asked participants to design an underground bathhouse near the Kaesong Industrial Park, a (currently suspended) cooperative economic project that employs workers from both North and South Korea, research initiative Arch Out Loud imagined a DMZ that accommodates non-military structures that are typically seen as out of place in areas of such sensitivity and tension. The winning proposal by Studio M.R.D.O and Studio LAM utilizes the performative element of a bathhouse, where visitors are both audience members and actors, to the address the tensions—both geopolitical, from its surrounding environment, and personal, from the related emotions visitors carry with them—between both groups.

How Rebuilding Britain’s Houses of Parliament Helped Create Clean Air Laws

08:00 - 29 January, 2017
How Rebuilding Britain’s Houses of Parliament Helped Create Clean Air Laws, The British Houses of Parliament. Image © Flickr user megantrace. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
The British Houses of Parliament. Image © Flickr user megantrace. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

MIT has published new research revealing how the reconstruction of the British Houses of Parliament paved the way for legislation to tackle air pollution in Victorian London. Through original archival work into the 1840-1870 reconstruction, MIT architectural historian Timothy Hyde has revealed that work on the Parliament building was so hindered by air pollution that the British government ordered an inquiry into the effects of the atmosphere on new buildings.

The British Houses of Parliament. Image © Flickr user megantrace. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0  © Flickr user daveograve. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Image New limestone corroded while the building was still being constructed. Image © Flickr user pahudson. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 Westminster Bridge, 1903. Image © Flickr user nedgusnod2. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 + 5

Game of Thrones: The Politics and Foundations of Fictional Cities

08:00 - 20 January, 2017
Game of Thrones: The Politics and Foundations of Fictional Cities, Kingslanding- Game of Thrones (2011). Image © HBO
Kingslanding- Game of Thrones (2011). Image © HBO

What makes a city different from a town? What is the distinction between these two seemingly similar collections of buildings and streets? Why can we trace towns back to the Stone Age, while the first city remains a mystery? Although a village and a city can be considered similar, the city has a unique and innovative element that makes it stand out: the citizens and civitas.  

While villages were merely an efficient urban system for groups of people that live together, the foundation of a city entails the institution of a very concrete idea of society, of a commitment between individuals to organize the world based on shared criteria.

The civitas is precisely this idea of social order, the accumulation of traditions, laws, principles and beliefs that gave rise to the civil community. Urbs is the urban model especially dedicated to institutionalizing this idea of society. Be aware that we’re not talking about streets or houses here, but of the moment of the establishment, that is, of the foundation of the city. As Fustel de Coulanges would say, while the civitas is a time-honored inheritance accumulated over centuries, the urbs is founded in one day. Filling it with streets, houses, and shops as a consequence.

British Architects Ridicule Government Plans for 14 New "Garden Villages"

13:30 - 2 January, 2017
British Architects Ridicule Government Plans for 14 New "Garden Villages", Houses in Hardwick "Garden City," a suburb of Chepstow in Wales, that was built in the early 20th century. Image © <a href='http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1038431'>Geograph user Ruth Sharville</a> licensed under <a href='http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a>
Houses in Hardwick "Garden City," a suburb of Chepstow in Wales, that was built in the early 20th century. Image © Geograph user Ruth Sharville licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Yesterday, the UK Government announced plans for 3 new garden towns and 14 new "garden villages" across England, expanding a plan that already includes 7 previously announced garden towns. Explaining the concept of the garden villages, the Department for Communities and Local Government described settlements of 1,500 to 10,000 homes, saying that together the 14 locations have the potential to deliver 48,000 new houses. In order to expedite the creation of these new settlements, the government has set aside a fund of £6 million (US$7.4 million), which housebuilders will be permitted to use in order to accelerate development at the sites.

However, the architectural community in the UK has mocked the proposals and the government's use of language, highlighting what appears to be a poor understanding of Ebenezer Howard's Garden Cities concept. Many have also pointed out that the plans are relatively meager in a country that, by many estimates, is falling hundreds of thousands of new homes short of the number needed every year.

Here's What Architect Andrew Tesoro Really Thinks of Donald Trump

07:00 - 29 September, 2016
Here's What Architect Andrew Tesoro Really Thinks of Donald Trump, Image of Donald Trump © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/80038275@N00/20548281849/sizes/h/'> Flickr user Michael Vadon</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a>. Inset via screenshot from Hillary for America campaign video
Image of Donald Trump © Flickr user Michael Vadon licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Inset via screenshot from Hillary for America campaign video

The United States is currently embroiled in what is unquestionably one the most bizarre and unpredictable presidential races in its history. In this strange context, the world of architecture has unexpectedly found itself a hot political topic, with one architect at the center of the controversy: Andrew Tesoro.

Tesoro's involvement in the presidential race began with a video created by Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign. In the video, Tesoro tells a story of how Republican nominee Donald Trump "bullied" him and his architectural firm Tesoro Architects out of "many thousands of dollars" which were owed for their design services. Subsequently, Tesoro received something of a shout-out from Hillary Clinton in Monday's presidential debate as evidence that Trump's business experience does not qualify him to be president.

Given the nature of the campaign video, which was undoubtedly edited to paint Trump in a negative light, many have understandably questioned whether Tesoro's opinions and story were accurately portrayed. This skepticism was then reinforced by a "condensed and edited interview" published by Forbes, which suggested that Tesoro's opinion of Trump was much more forgiving than the one perpetuated by the Clinton campaign. Given the confusion around Tesoro's true opinions, ArchDaily decided to give the architect a chance to present his message unambiguously. What follows are Andrew Tesoro's responses to three simple questions about Donald Trump. These responses have not been edited by ArchDaily staff.

Frank Gehry's Eisenhower Memorial One Step Closer to Realization After Finally Receiving Family Support

15:45 - 20 September, 2016
Frank Gehry's Eisenhower Memorial One Step Closer to Realization After Finally Receiving Family Support, Rendering from the memorial's most recent iteration. Image © Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission
Rendering from the memorial's most recent iteration. Image © Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission

After years of steadfast disapproval of the proposed design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Eisenhower family has finally voiced their support for the Frank Gehry designed park and monument – once a few more minor changes are made.

The 15-year-long process has already seen a multitude of design tweaks and revisions, but it appeared to have been decisively green-lit last summer following final approval by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). In the past year, however, the project has once again stalled, as the Eisenhower Memorial Commission has struggled to find private donors following the withdrawal of congressional funding for the project in 2013.

Architecture is Propaganda: How North Korea Turned the Built Environment into a Tool for Control

11:30 - 6 September, 2016
Architecture is Propaganda: How North Korea Turned the Built Environment into a Tool for Control, Workers' Party monument, a monument to the people showing the Hammer (builders), Sickle (farmers) and Paint Brush (scholars, an addition to the standard symbol of communism). Image © Alex Davidson
Workers' Party monument, a monument to the people showing the Hammer (builders), Sickle (farmers) and Paint Brush (scholars, an addition to the standard symbol of communism). Image © Alex Davidson

Architecture is propaganda. Throughout my two years of visiting and living in North Korea the country slowly revealed to me the details of this evolved and refined tool for totalitarian control of the country’s population. The West views the country with incredulity—surely this cannot be a functioning country where people lead “everyday lives?” Surely the country’s populace can’t possibly buy into this regime? But I assure you that they do. People have careers, they go to work on the bus, and those women crying over the death of their leader were doing so through their own initiative, if not out of genuine emotion. How is this possible? This is a carefully constructed regime which has, at its heart, an unprecedented understanding of how architecture and urbanism can influence and control people. Coming second only to the military on the list of party priorities, the design of the built environment has had an incalculable effect on reinforcing the ideologies of the North Korean regime and conveying these to the people.

A recent residential tower block, containing apartments for scientists and teachers. Image © Koryo Tours courtesy of Alex Davidson Arch of Triumph. Image © Alex Davidson Pyongyang's new science and technology center. Image © Koryo Tours courtesy of Alex Davidson The view from Kim Il Sung Square, in front of the Grand People's Study House, looking towards the Juche Tower. Image © Alex Davidson + 22

The Demolition of Plovdiv’s Tobacco Warehouse Demands a New Response from Citizens

09:30 - 22 March, 2016
The Demolition of Plovdiv’s Tobacco Warehouse Demands a New Response from Citizens, The Tobacco Warehouse before demolition. Image © Open Arts Foundation
The Tobacco Warehouse before demolition. Image © Open Arts Foundation

The public of Plovdiv, and of Bulgaria, woke up on Monday the 7th March—after their national holiday celebration—with a national cultural monument and a key piece of the city's identity on the ground in pieces. The building was one of the standout structures of “Tobacco Town”—a complex of former tobacco industry warehouses. The demolition by its owners began despite a promise made by Mayor Ivan Totev in September that the entire complex would be renovated as an urban art zone as part of the preparations for Plovdiv European Capital of Culture 2019.

Plovdiv, a city in the south of Bulgaria with its 7 hills, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe. The Thracians, Romans, and Ottomans all employed its strategic location, and today it is Bulgaria’s second largest city. The title of cultural capital is well deserved, and perhaps even well overdue. With its arrival, there was hope that major parts of the city's history lying in disrepair may finally have a standing chance, and then this… another building, gone.

Everybody's heart is heavy. They are in disbelief. The questions are the same as the ones that have been asked many times before: “How did this happen?” “Who did this?”

UNESCO and Italy Form Task Force to Protect Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas

08:00 - 2 March, 2016
UNESCO and Italy Form Task Force to Protect Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas, Destruction by the Islamic State of the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra (Syria) in August 2015. Image © Wikipedia licensed under CC BY 2.0
Destruction by the Islamic State of the Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra (Syria) in August 2015. Image © Wikipedia licensed under CC BY 2.0

Italy and UNESCO have signed an agreement to create a special Italian task force to protect art, cultural sites, and ancient artifacts that are located in areas of war or conflict around the world. They will also form a center in Turin to train cultural heritage experts. The agreement arose from a proposal presented by Italy last October that was backed by 53 countries and the UN Security Council.

Conceived as the cultural version of the Blue Helmets -- the UN’s peacekeeping forces -- the group will initially be composed of 30 police detectives specializing in art theft, and 30 archeologists and art restorers and historians, who “are already operational and ready to go where UNESCO sends them,” said Dario Franceschini, the Italian Minister of Culture, during the ceremony to sign the agreement.

Fela Memorial Force HQ: The Architecture of a Leftist Police Force

13:13 - 16 February, 2016
Fela Memorial Force HQ: The Architecture of a Leftist Police Force

This architecture exhibition deconstructs the traditional Police Station in Nigeria from an autocratic building into a leftist social infrastructure that allows symbiotic relationship between People and Police. Triggered by political events, the building is named after human rights campaigner and musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and hosts protests, concerts, fora and fitness walks. Because of the social infrastructure that it is, Fela Memorial becomes a vehicle to transform the nodal Obalende, Lagos into a smart, accessible district.

Developer Pulls Planning on Renzo Piano's Controversial Paddington Tower

12:00 - 1 February, 2016
Developer Pulls Planning on Renzo Piano's Controversial Paddington Tower, Rendering of the scrapped Paddington tower. Image © RPBW
Rendering of the scrapped Paddington tower. Image © RPBW

Protestors have prompted developer Sellar Property Group to pull plans on the Renzo Piano-designed skyscraper sited in London's Paddington area. The 72-story "skinny Shard" has been harshly criticized by locals and Historic England for "blighting views" of the capital and being out-of-place, hence its popular nickname - the "Paddington Pole."

“London’s skyline is unique, iconic and loved. It has to be managed sensitively and with proper planning,” Historic England chief executive Duncan Wilson told The Guardian. “Tall buildings can be exciting and useful, but if they are poorly designed, or in the wrong place, they can really harm our cities. We trust that the revised plans for Paddington Place will take the area’s unique character into account.”