Politics and Architecture

Politics has had its waylay with any entity that has crossed path with it, each is molded starkly for propagating its ideals and purpose and as the its run with the beast evaporates is left behind no more than a legacy, a piece to be remembered through the timeline.

The Colosseum: Where gladiator fights took place a common Entertainment space for the public initated by the Nobility Photo Courtesy: Nowitz Photography

The Colosseum: Where gladiator fights took place a common Entertainment space for the public initated by the Nobility
Photo Courtesy: Nowitz Photography

The impact of Politics on Architecture is remarkably magnanimous. The influence tend to be a two way street, not just politics impacts architecture, but revolutionary ideas come to be a seed for the greater propaganda. Standing the test of time these structures become a testimonial for the democratization of politics by virtue of various the factions.

Pyramids: Tombs built for the Egyptian Royalty as a mark of respect for their position Picture Courtesy: Mohammed Bhula

Pyramids: Tombs built for the Egyptian Royalty as a mark of respect for their position
Picture Courtesy: Mohammed Bhula

It’s not a modern phenomenon, but even during the time of kings and emperors, to emphasize political monopoly and cultural oneness, various monuments and structures were materialized. This can be seen as the myriad of monuments stamped through the historical timeline, be it the Caesarian aqueducts or the Arabian Khalifa. Architecture becomes the frozen voice of a bygone era.

“In pre-modern times, fortresses, palaces, and other major monuments were constituents of the political system, as were religion, the law, and the economy. In modern times, architecture and politics have become separate… function systems”

– Patrick Schumacher

Under effective administration, architects and planners rose to prominence and game changing ideas synonymous with the political standing were implemented throughout. These architects exercised enormous power under the municipal systems, having free reign over building permits and the government treasury. Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Antoni Gaudi, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Lord Norman Foster to name a few. The ruling government tend to grant major architectural works to the names that voice their particular political ideology or those who are in sync with their definition of development, through their art form. Ruling Governments recognize Architecture as a “Visible sign of Progress”. This not only brought about progressive development, but the urban arena had transcended to new and better lifestyles. These developments in turn became a frontrunner for political canvasing and campaigns. A full cycle.

Burj Khalifa: Current tallest structure of the World, marking the supremacy of Arabians over monetary expenditures Picture Courtesy: Achyuthan Ramaswamy

Burj Khalifa: Current tallest structure of the World, marking the supremacy of Arabians over monetary expenditures
Picture Courtesy: Achyuthan Ramaswamy

This type of promotion notably shows, that the current government’s achievements are equal or better in progression with their counterparts. Various factors about the structure projects myriad of thoughts, for example the 1670ft high Taipei 101 in Taiwan symbolized the dignity and the extent of influence of the patron had in the society and the want of the government to project the country in a global pedestal. With the structure as the façade for the propaganda, various other remarkable international deals were closed and led to a positive flourish of the country, which in turn opened up various other opportunities.

"I have a Dream" by MLK Jr in front of Lincoln Memorial Picture Courtesy: Tiny Pic

“I have a Dream” by MLK Jr in front of Lincoln Memorial
Picture Courtesy: Tiny Pic

The relationship of the outlook of the space with the audience is its ability to gather throngs of population towards the character it projects. This charm is exploited by the politicians to mitigate their views and stand toward any particular subject. Lincoln Memorial at Washington D.C is particularly associated with one remarkable event, The Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a Dream” delivered on 28th of August 1963 standing out as one of the greatest freedom speech delivered.

Sabarmathi Ashram: Centric to the aspect of peace and non-violence preached by Gandhi Photo Courtesy: Achyuthan Ramaswamy

Sabarmathi Ashram: Centric to the aspect of peace and non-violence preached by Gandhi
Photo Courtesy: Achyuthan Ramaswamy

The Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad, mitigates the world peace and non-violence envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi, associated as the forefront location for the strife to the Indian Independence.

The Kremlin: The high seat of Communism Picture Courtesy: National Geographic

The Kremlin: The high seat of Communism
Picture Courtesy: National Geographic

The White House, the Kremlin and the Buckingham’s Palace the architectural heart of the world’s biggest political powers, are paradigms of architecture’s interplay with politics.

By: Achyuthan Ramaswamy

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