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Politics: The Latest Architecture and News

A 2021 Moment In Architecture That May Define The Future

Some years end up being cultural pivot points. 2021 was one such year, with COVID-19 as the first existential threat to our culture since World War II. Architecture will change as a result, and may evolve in public perception to value motivations as a criteria for understanding it, versus valuing outcomes as the validation of any particular aesthetic.

Humphrey Building (HHS Headquarters) Washington DC. Image © CivicArtWolson County Courthouse, Wilson NC. Image via Wikimedia CommonsSolomon R. Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright, NYC 1959. Image Courtesy of Smithsonian MagazineNorthwestern National Life Insurance Buliding by Minoru Yamasaki and Associates, 1964. Image via Wikimedia Commons+ 6

The Spatial Stories of Ousmane Sembène

When examining the world of African cinema, there are few names more prominent than that of Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène. His films ‘La Noire de…’ and ‘Mandabi’, released in 1966 and 1968 respectively, are films that tell evocative stories on the legacies of colonialism, identity, and immigration. And whilst these two films are relatively slow-spaced, ‘slice-of-life stories, they also offer a valuable spatial critique of the setting where the films are based, providing a helpful framework to understand the intricacies of the post-colonial African city, and the contrast between the African and European metropolises.

Courtesy of Janus FilmsCourtesy of Janus FilmsIbrahim walking in the wide-laned streets of Dakar's more affluent areas. Image Courtesy of Janus FilmsCourtesy of Janus Films+ 13

The Restroom Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale Displays how Restrooms are Political Battlegrounds

"When we enter the restroom, we are never alone. Instead, we are entangled in a network of bodies, infrastructures, ecosystems, cultural norms, and regulations". Although restrooms are often overlooked facilities that cater to the needs of individuals, they are, however, spaces where gender, religion, race, hygiene, health, and the economy are defined and expressed. For the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia, Matilde Cassani, Ignacio G. Galán, Iván L. Munuera, and Joel Sanders designed two pavilions that exhibit how restrooms are political architectures, serving as battlegrounds for the world's disputes.

The Restroom Pavilion. Image © Imagen Subliminal (Miguel de Guzmán + Rocio Romero)The Restroom Pavilion. Image © Imagen Subliminal (Miguel de Guzmán + Rocio Romero)The Restroom Pavilion. Image © Delfino Sisto LegnaniYour Restroom is a Battleground. Image © Natalia Guardia+ 15

Assault on a Sacred Place

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

For most people, calling a place “sacred” designates it as an important location, one usually associated with spirituality. It might be the setting for religious rituals (the sacred space of a church, synagogue, or mosque), a spot where some event described as “miraculous” has occurred (such as the reported sighting of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes, France, which became a pilgrimage site), or a place which held the body of deity (think of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, built upon what is believed the be the tomb of Jesus Christ). 

Free Metropolitan Opera Documentary Stream of "The Opera House"

The Metropolitan Opera offers a free stream each night on the Met website for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. EDT the following day.

Beginning on Saturday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m. EDT, the Met will present a free stream of "The Opera House" by award-winning filmmaker Susan Froemke.

The 2017 documentary is about the fascinating creation of the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, which opened in 1966. Through rarely seen archival footage and recent interviews, discover the untold stories of the artists, architects, and politicians who shaped the cultural life of New

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

© 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

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"

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 GuzmánEscaravox / Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation. Image © Miguel de GuzmánSuper Powers of Ten / Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation. Image © Jorge López CondeCasa 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"

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

‘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

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-4.0The Titanic Centre, Belfast © Flickr user placeni. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)The Lyric Theatre by O'Donnell & Tuomey Architects © Dennis GilbertThe 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

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

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 2.0Westminster Bridge, 1903. Image © Flickr user nedgusnod2. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0+ 5

Game of Thrones: The Politics and Foundations of Fictional Cities

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"

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

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.