Tag Archives: power

Why We Build Presentation

 As a researcher of social issues, Kim Dovey, an architecture critic and professor, wrote Framing PLaces.   He references several author’s opinions in this text, some of his favorite being Michael Weinstein, Steven Lukes, and Clifford Geertz. This author’s thesis rests upon the idea that the “notion of power as the human capacity to imagine and create a better built environment.” This piece explains the power an individual can exert through a built environment with or without the notice of the subjects.  Dovey uses quotes and facts from a variety of authors to support his claim. I believe this evidence because he presents authors who have studied other subjects, not just architecture; therefore the claim becomes more well-rounded and unbiased. Rather than disproving or acknowledging competing explanations, Dovey chooses to instead bring light to facts that society completely ignores by giving thought to such matters. Explicit assumptions upon the belief that consciously or subconsciously all people are seeking some form of power over another person can be found in this piece.This work relates to architecture by giving categories to the different types of environments we build and showing the physiological implications of such. I feel this reading assignment teaches students that when we draw a line, we are also a drawing a wall, which will one day serve as a barrier that somehow oppresses the occupants of this space.

What type of power over do you find most prevalent in architecture today? (Force, coercion, manipulation, seduction, authority)

The author of The Edifice Complex is Deyan Sudjic,  a design and architecture critic. In his piece, he included a story by Adolf Loos, an influential modern architect. Sudjic’s thesis is “Architecture is about power” as an answer to why we build. This piece explores an overdone subject by using modern examples to show that power in architecture is still relevant today. Sudjic uses examples of recently built structures like the Mother of All Battles Mosque as evidence to support his claim. He backs up these examples with relevant historical and social context, along with other examples of architecture. Sudjic acknowledges an opposing opinion that architecture cannot be design without political meanings. While it can be neutral, over time a building has the potential to acquire a political aspect. He makes an explicit assumption when he imagines Zaha Hadid designing Hussein’s mosque. This assumption supports a broader assumption that architects are defined by their clients’ political beliefs and can be affected by them. This piece matters in the field of architecture because it shows that the reason behind building hasn’t changed, but makes that old idea relevant once more. I think this reading was assigned to make us aware that architect’s design symbols of power. Our designs are not just functional; they are the statements of our clients.

What makes a building a symbol of power? (the physical form, the intent behind it, the client’s position in society, etc.)



Sept. 13 Reflection Notes:

Why we build. in The Edifice Complex

The very beginning of this reading it stated how architects build to be simultaneously both modern and respectfully rooted in the past,” but are we really doing that? I mean look at our site for our studio project. We are located in a historically industrial area of Brooklyn, NY but we know that the city is proposing to have new urban parks and even new residential/commercial high-rises built. So are the architects of those new proposals really taking in to account the history of the area? I don’ believe so, and I believe that they necessarily shouldn’t. We build for today and for our future not for the past.

Architecture is built to be used as a language of what is going on today. As read, architects build to show that their country is the most up to date regarding technologies, building materials, etc. We build to show off what we know and what other other countries don’t know. Architecture becomes a metaphorical means for political, social and economic issues of today. Now whether everyday people know what the true meaning of the built architecture is is another story. I don’t believe someone walking on the streets understands the conceptual/metaphorical thought behind any building. The only people that know are the architect of that building and the person who commissioned that project.

Generally, the people who want to use architecture as a means of propaganda are those who have the money to do so, and those who have the money to do so typically have the power. A lot of things are a money and political game. I find it extremely interesting how architecture falls into the money and political game more often than not. Architecture can and is used to control people by shaping the way we live. So ultimately do we build to control people and their lives? Who actually builds, the architect or the commissioner?


Power. in Framing Places: Mediating power in built form, 2nd ed.

Architecture is intertwined with power. Even in the other reading, architecture is essentially built for the wealthy and by the wealthy. While reading this I felt as though having the power to build and design with the imagination is a negative thing. By using the words such as manipulation and coercion which typically have these negative connotations make it seem as though architects are bad people. We “force” people into our own imaginations for the spaces we create by convincing them through words and promising images of the space.

No matter what, power will always be around us. Weather it’s the power of the commissioner telling the architect what they want, or the power of the architect designing the specific space, the users of that space are subject to the power of the architect and he commissioner.

I don’t agree with the fact that we manipulate, coerce,  or seduce the audience we build for. We should be giving them architecture that fits their needs and not the needs of the person with the power, or the most money.