This study provided an important opportunity to advance theunderstanding of howspace can be political.
According to Oxford English dictionary (2015), spacecan be defined as follows: “a continuous area or expanse which is free,available, or unoccupied. The dimensions of height, depth, and width within allthings exist and move. An interval of time (often used to suggest that the timeis short considering what has happened or been achieved in it).
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The freedom tolive, think, and develop in a way that suits one.” Throughout this essay, theterm space will be used to refer to an area that it has been occupied byresidents or it is an area for public access, in short, a private or publicspace that it is been use for residential or governmental purposes. Also,according to Oxford English dictionary (2015), political can be defined asfollows: “relating to the government or public affairs of a country. Done oracting in the interests of status or power within an organization rather thanas a matter of principle.” This essay will attempt to demonstrate that spacehas political connotation. This will be explained in this essay in thefollowing way. The essay will first address why architectural symbols havepolitical connotations.
It will then analyse the government’s politics, thepolitical aspect of architecture, whether architecture is or is notrepressible, residential space, The concepts of social, cultural and politicalgoods, public space, power (control) of the space and ethical dilemmas on apolitical perspective of the space. A combination of quantitative andqualitative approaches was used in the data analysis. Also, it was used tosupport the understanding of the topic examples of architectural buildings anddiagrams.
At the end, this essay will provide a conclusion and will enhance ourunderstanding of the extent to which space can be political.There is a growing body of literature that recognisesthe importance of architectural symbols. The concepts of architectural symbolsand social and cultural conditions are central to the understanding of politicalspace (Nas, 2011: 8).
An example of this is the study carried out on theColosseum, an amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, whichrepresents a symbol of power, culture, life and society. The observedcorrelation between architectural symbols and political space might beexplained in this way: the colosseum was a source of entertainment, but also atool to control the people and raise the political status of the politicians inthe Senate of Ancient Rome (Coarelli and Gabucci, 2001). This shows that theColosseum (as show in Figure 1), as a space, was used for political purposes. Thebuilding is a cultural and social symbol (as show in Figure 2) and theconditions and beliefs at that time caused the space to be used, to a certainextent, for political manipulation. Another important finding was that overtime the main use of the Colosseum has changed, however, the space still beingused today as a political symbol of power. Taken together, these findingssuggest a role for architectural symbolism in promoting political space.
Architecture can play an important role in addressing the issue ofgovernment’s politics. Architecture revealed a correlation between power andlarge interests, whether political or financial (Tschumi, 1990). An example ofthis would be the recently constructed buildings for the Olympic Games held byChina in 2016. The new architectural buildings constructed by China draws ourattention to the distinctive political agenda behind the Olympic events. Thebuildings evidence a source of national pride which is comparable in complexityto the architectural symbols previously discussed in this essay. In the sameway, One World Trade Center also known as the “Freedom Tower” in Lower Manhattan,New York, is the tallest building in the Westerrn Hemisphere and it is withinthe top ten tallest buildings in the world. These buildings are good examplesof powerful and symbolic buildings (Wallace, 2011). Bernard Tschumi usesexamples of these various powerful buildings as evidence that when a buildingis built, it is not only for the client, but for the city as well.
He alsopoints out that “there is a momentwhen the buildings are conceived as an expression of a political regime”. Inhis important analysis of government’s politics and architecture Tschumi (1990)showed that when architects are designing buildings, there is a diplomacyrequired. This study has demonstrated that architecture contributes to a government’spolitical agenda. See figure 3.Political is an important aspect of architecture. There is a growing bodyof literature that recognises the importance of the relationship between peopleand housing. This view is supported by Lebbeus Woods (1992) and Peter Eisenman(2007) that architecture is a political act. A relationship exists between aperson and their space.
Taken together, these studies support the notion thatwhen someone wants changes on the conditions of the space, the architecturebecome an instrument to achieve these changes. Another important finding wasthat the architect needs to consider the existing environment and how to buildthis space for people to live in. These results confirm the association betweenpolitics and space. The observed correlation between political and architecturemight be explained in this way: when people want to improve their livingconditions it might be driven by both political and economic reasons. Overall,this study strengthens the idea that a space can be political. See Figure 4.A heavily debated question is whether architecture is or is notrepressible.
According to Fredric Jameson (Leach, 1997: 245) architecture whencompared to the other arts is the most repressible because it demands moreeffort to understand the message or the intention of the artist. However, thereis an inconsistency with this argument. Jameson makes no attempt to offer anadequate explanation for how architecture is repressible. Such expositions areunsatisfactory because his explanation suffer from some serious weaknesses. Heargues that architecture is repressible because compared to the other arts likepainting, “architecture can be lived in, be moved around in, and simultaneouslyignored” (Leach 1997: 245). Hence, this observation may support the hypothesisthat architecture is not repressible.
It can therefore be assumed thatarchitecture is irrepressible because you extend, you move around, you can ignoreor live it. On the other hand, a possible explanation for his finding might bethat the various limitations that architects need to consider; such as buildingregulations, the site, clients, and the weather when receiving a designproposal can potentially be very repressible. This would be an excellent areafor further work. Further research needs to examine the link more closelybetween architecture and repressible. Residential space is a fundamental aspect of politics. Surveys such as thoseconducted by Friedrich Engels (1872) have shown that the difficulties thatpeople have surrounding property, such as purchasing a property or keepingpossession of the property, were generally related to the structure of socialclass.
According to Friedrich Engels the solution would be a social revolutionwhich can be defined as changes in the structure and nature of the society.These social revolutions would result in social and cultural transformation to thesocietal infrastructure. In conclusion, housing movement is a determiningfactor of politics (Engels and Marx, 1919).
The correlation between residentialand politics is interesting because it is both a political and economicproblem. This result may be explained by the fact that homeless and rentalproblems can affect the economy of the city or any kind of similar infrastructure.The most obvious finding to emerge from the analysis is that housing issueshave class structure and power relationships it can thus be suggested that thespace have a political implication on the social infrastructure. In general,therefore, it seems that housing is a tool for politics.
Overall, this studystrengthens the idea that residential space is political (Madden and Marcuse,2016).The concepts of social, cultural and political goods are central to thehouse as a space. Thus far, previous studies highlighted factors that areassociated with the relation between people and who resides in that space.Madden and Marcuse (2016) suggests an explanatory for each type of social,cultural and political goods. They point out that house can have differentmeaning for each person.
Some important examples of social and cultural goodsare source of status, wealth, shelter, site of reproduction and home. Anotherwell-known example of political goods are economic burden, key structure andfunction of cities, speculation for who wants to sell or buy, income for financing,tax and work for the developer of the house. It is important to bear in mindthe possible bias in these examples. It could be argued that work for thedeveloper has a social and political good which furthers both social andpolitical agendas. Perhaps the serious disadvantage of this subject is thatapproaches of this kind carry them various common and unusual reasons for eachgood. It is not a homogenous area. This research extends our knowledge of houseas a political good.Politics has a pivotal role in public space.
Publicspaces are policed and outlawed. The use of public spaces has rules and canhave limitation of access. This is exemplified in the work undertaken by Lowand Smith (2006) in their book. A reasonable approach to tackle this reportcould be exemplified by spaces such as public streets, parks and shoppingmalls.
These examples confirm the association between space and politicsbecause public spaces are outlawed which means it has a public behaviour. Forexample, The SãoPaulo Museum of Art (MASP) designed by Lina Bo Bardi is located on PaulistaAvenue in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. It is a rectangular block supportedby two lateral beams as show in Figure 5. An interesting political aspect ofthis structure is that the public space under the concrete block is used for avariety of politically driven activities as show in Figure 6.
Among these are politicalmovements, protests, daily activities and exhibitions. Through this, it can beseen that political bodies further their agendas through the use of publicspaces such as these, which enhances our understanding of how space can bepolitical. An issue that was not addressed in this study was to what extentpublic spaces are public. Further studies regarding the role of the publicaspect of public space. Power has been instrumental in our understanding of space. It is now wellestablished from a variety of studies that effective control of space allowsthe infrastructure of the city to operate efficiently.
A lack of proper controlof space would adversely affect the daily lives of the citizens. Examples of theeffective control of space include managing the basic aspects of infrastructuresuch as transport, education, health care, food, clean air and recreationalfacilities. These are some examples of crucial amenities that, where they did notwork properly, people would demand immediate changes. Should these issues notbe resolved, this can lead to social revolution which could lead to completepolitical shifts within a nation. A significant analysis and discussion on thesubject was presented by Staub (2016: 3). In her book, there is a cleardefinition of public space.
In short, public space are places that arecontrolled by the government and offer activities. She also explored therelationship between public and private space that are open for the public forexample, shopping mall, restaurant, etc. What stands out in this subject isthat there are two means to shape public spaces according to Staub (2016:13).They are the legislation and building programs.
These examples support previousresearch into this area which links space and political. These recent findingshighlight the importance of control (power) of the space.Ethical dilemmas are an important component in the political system andplays a key role in architecture. Ethical dilemmas have been a question ofgreat interest in a wide range of fields.
Thus far, a number of studies haveattempted to evaluate the impact of ethics linked to the construction area. Ina study conducted by Spector (2001), it was showed that the larger the construction,the larger the moral and ethical consequences of your work. The correlationbetween architecture and ethics is interesting because if something unexpectedhappens on the site, it can result in political consequences.
These viewssurfaced mainly in relation to accidents, air and soil pollution and other environmentalissues. For example, hundreds of migrant workers have died in the constructionof the Al Wakrah stadium in Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The stadium wasdesigned by Zaha Hadid as show in Figure 7. At the time, she defended herselfclaiming that “as an architect, she has no control over the construction site”.Opinions differed as to for whom architects are working for. However, shecannot be directly blamed for the deaths.
The most obvious finding to emergefrom the analysis is that where an architect works on a particular project, thearchitect should consider the safety and well-being of those who would need toconstruct the building when designing it (Hadid and Betsky, 2013). There are anumber of important changes which need to be made. A key political priorityshould therefore be a plan for long-term care of the workers on the site. Thisinformation can be used to develop targeted interventions aimed at buildingregulations. It would be interesting to compare experiences of individuals withinthe participation in different projects structures. Although this study focuseson ethical dilemmas, the finding may well have a bearing on politicalapplication for the spaces in which projects would be built.This essay has discussed the reasons of howspace can be political.
The main goal of the current study was to determine howhighly political space can be. This was illustrated by the analysis of therelationship between people and their housing, of which one of the moresignificant findings to emerge from this study is that people are the strongest factor for the political agendaof residential and public space. Overall, this study strengthens the idea that spaceis political. The present study should prove to be particularly valuable toprovide an understanding of the political agenda of the infrastructure of thespace. Public spaces are majority owned by the government or companies. And theeffective control of space allows the infrastructure of the city tooperate efficiently. Another keystrength of the present study was the architectural symbols.
An exampleused was the Colosseum, the building is a cultural and social symbol and it isused as a tool for political manipulation. Even though over time the main useof the Colosseum had changed, the space is still being used today as apolitical symbol of power which is another point that supports the politicalaspect of space. Nevertheless,it can be seen in this essay that the repressible aspect of space, such as thevarious limitations that architects need to consider; such as buildingregulations, the site, clients, and the weather when receiving a designproposal can potentially be very repressible. Also, the analysis of ethicaldilemmas showed that the larger the construction, the larger the moral andethical consequences of an architect’s work. This correlation betweenarchitecture and ethics is particularly interesting because if somethingunexpected happens on the site, it can result in political consequences which hasextended our knowledge of ethical dilemmas in architecture.
This would be anexcellent area for further work. The present study should prove to beparticularly valuable to provide a base on future knowledge for architectureand urban planning.