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Architecture, Power, and National Identity

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Throughout history, architecture and urban design have been manipulated in the service of politics. Because government buildings serve as symbols of the state, we can learn much about a political regime by observing closely what it builds. In this book, Lawrence J. Vale explores parliamentary complexes in capital cities on six continents, showing how the buildings housing Throughout history, architecture and urban design have been manipulated in the service of politics. Because government buildings serve as symbols of the state, we can learn much about a political regime by observing closely what it builds. In this book, Lawrence J. Vale explores parliamentary complexes in capital cities on six continents, showing how the buildings housing national government institutions are products of the political and cultural balance of power within pluralist societies. By viewing architecture and urban design in the light of political history and cultural production, Vale expands the scope and cogency of design criticism and demonstrates that the manipulation of environmental meaning is an important force in urban development. Vale begins by tracing the evolution of the modern designed capital--from Washington, D.C., Canberra, New Delhi, and Ankara, to the post-World War II capitals of Chandigarh and Brasilia, to Abuja, Nigeria, and Dodoma, Tanzania, planned in the 197Os and still largely unrealized. He then provides close readings of the architecture, urban design, and political history of four smaller parliamentary complexes completed in the 198Os, in Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, and Bangladesh. These essays situate the parliamentary designs in the wider context of postcolonial struggles to build the symbols and institutions of democratic government during periods of rapid political and economic change. In the final chapter of the book, Vale addresses the dilemmas facing designers who undertake to deliver national identity as part of their design commission.


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Throughout history, architecture and urban design have been manipulated in the service of politics. Because government buildings serve as symbols of the state, we can learn much about a political regime by observing closely what it builds. In this book, Lawrence J. Vale explores parliamentary complexes in capital cities on six continents, showing how the buildings housing Throughout history, architecture and urban design have been manipulated in the service of politics. Because government buildings serve as symbols of the state, we can learn much about a political regime by observing closely what it builds. In this book, Lawrence J. Vale explores parliamentary complexes in capital cities on six continents, showing how the buildings housing national government institutions are products of the political and cultural balance of power within pluralist societies. By viewing architecture and urban design in the light of political history and cultural production, Vale expands the scope and cogency of design criticism and demonstrates that the manipulation of environmental meaning is an important force in urban development. Vale begins by tracing the evolution of the modern designed capital--from Washington, D.C., Canberra, New Delhi, and Ankara, to the post-World War II capitals of Chandigarh and Brasilia, to Abuja, Nigeria, and Dodoma, Tanzania, planned in the 197Os and still largely unrealized. He then provides close readings of the architecture, urban design, and political history of four smaller parliamentary complexes completed in the 198Os, in Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, and Bangladesh. These essays situate the parliamentary designs in the wider context of postcolonial struggles to build the symbols and institutions of democratic government during periods of rapid political and economic change. In the final chapter of the book, Vale addresses the dilemmas facing designers who undertake to deliver national identity as part of their design commission.

38 review for Architecture, Power, and National Identity

  1. 4 out of 5

    Aziff

    No matter what country you live in, you may have at least once visited the state capitol. Mine is Putrajaya, an architectural marvel completed in 1999 after many years of development. Constructed during the Mahathir administration, I've always seen it as a political vision the former premiere had for Malaysia, if not also his own lasting legacy. This is exactly what L.J. Vale's Architecture, Power and National Identity explores. How politics and culture is weaved into the nation state's architect No matter what country you live in, you may have at least once visited the state capitol. Mine is Putrajaya, an architectural marvel completed in 1999 after many years of development. Constructed during the Mahathir administration, I've always seen it as a political vision the former premiere had for Malaysia, if not also his own lasting legacy. This is exactly what L.J. Vale's Architecture, Power and National Identity explores. How politics and culture is weaved into the nation state's architectural space and structure. This book is a compilation of case studies on a number of major post-colonial developing cities around the world. So while references are made to already established capitol states in its Introduction, such as Washington D.C., Moscow, Vienna, etc. The historical context will serve to explain how the newly-independent nations of the 20th century sought to shape its future through architecture and symbolism (if not the borrowing of it). Takeaways: 1. Politicians/Statesmen vision for the future is one driven by their own ambition. It rarely represents a nation's aspiration based on its realities and what its citizens really need. 2. Architects and designers themselves have their own ambitions and would weave it into design, where politically possible. 3. When looking at the capital buildings, always ask: who exactly are the architects/government building for? Is the symbolism necessarily a country's combined identity or a specific group's? 4. Architecture in capitol states can reveal a lot behind who's the unsaid ruling majority (or minority). Although sometimes, attempts to merge these diasporas together can be extremely difficult and send confusing messages. It's important to remember that architecture, as a vessel, can be read hand-in-hand with the state of the nation's socio-political development. Meaning too, changes over time. Even if the intention was pure. 5. Beautiful designs doesn't necessarily mean functional or accessible ones. Capitol buildings are idealistically designed to give a message that they serve the public, but rather, can feel like a invisible geographical space against the public. 6. Existing (or newly independent) governments end up adopting the same political structure left behind by the European colonists. The "new" chart for the future would end up with history repeated and democratic administration only a mask. Capitol buildings can, and sometimes end up like the palaces they swore to demolish. Architecture, Power and National Identity's provided me with an eye-opening knowledge of political architecture. While it's something I've long theorised, it's refreshing to read the way power expresses itself in various incarnations across different post-colonial nations.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mạnh Trí

  3. 4 out of 5

    John

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    Iben

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    Lukman Hendra

  20. 5 out of 5

    BookDB

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    catechism

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    Rana

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    Saxon

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    Mo'men Mohamed

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    Robin Hartanto

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    Zach

  38. 4 out of 5

    Thu

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