Theory and Criticism
Architecture and Dominance
Do you think that Schools of Architecture follow the culture of ethnical power?

Most of world��s countries are composed of multi ethnical societies. Yet each particular country identifies its architecture based on the architecture of its dominated ethnical society. There are many negative consequences for such power based architecture among them collapsing the architecture of smaller ethnical groups and removing one important pillar of the local cultural identity of these smaller ethnical groups

In the era of globalization and human rights this way of power based architecture should be corrected to involve and contain architecture of all ethnical groups in any particular country. Schools of Architecture in these countries should be the leading party in liberalization of this phenomenon.
Hoshiar Nooraddin
Architecture and Dominance
salaam Hoshiar -

Good post: While most of today's 'nations' are indeed multi-ethnical, I think it is fair to say that ALL of tomorrows nations will be so. We see this clearly in constructivist views, the burgeoning use and languages across boundaries, development of economic regionionalism as opposed to the polar opposities of secular to fundamentalist isolationism.

It is absolutely natural, if not even essential for communities to view cultural values expressed as architectural artifact.

If we subscribe to democracy, the positive attributes cultural diversity, why wouldn't architects be at the forefront of such a movement?

In the US, it became a matter of cultural pride to witness the rebirth, even into mainstream media, of interest in Native American construction, living in harmony with the Earth (Allah's gift). While much was lost due to European colonialism and subsequent consolidation of Anglo-Christian culture, much still remains and much still being added. For urban Americans, the issues of 'sustainability' and 'green economies' were first introduced by way of the cultural importance long before the advent of current, crisis driven 'post-petroleum' discussions.

Architecture communicates core human values, architects are the primary 'pre-verbal' communicators in global society.

ma salemah!
Anthony Stewart
Architecture and Dominance
Thank you Stewart I agree with your points. There are small number of architects who think in this way. The strange thing is that during old cultures the smaller groupd could keep and develop their architecture. Why it is not the same now. I believe there are many good lessons that we can use to bring about an important change where architecture be more democratic, more human and more sustainable. When I wrote this subject I had a hope that some architectural schools can say more about this issue and how they can realy make the change. I am still waiting!
Hoshiar Nooraddin
Architecture and Dominance
Hoshiar, The fact that most countries have architecture rooted in the culture of the majority host people is natural and normal. Please remember that building uses a lot of energy and resources and that buildings are built to last for at least a generation or more probably for several generations.

Therefore, there can be no quick fix to adjusting to todays` multi-cultural countries, other than by adapting the existing architecture to suit new needs.

As for Schools of Architecture leading the way in designing multi-culturally, that is not on the agenda because all cultures are viewed as redundant.
Frank John Snelling
Architecture and Dominance
OK, this is a correct description of the problem. But it dose not realize the necessity of being multicultural in architecture and how. My comment is concerning a real problem in our modern architectural knowledge and practice. Modern architecture belongs to different schools of architecture. Yet in many multi cultural countries the official adapted architectural practice belongs to the dominated power. Developing architectural knowledge in these countries is concentrated on developing the architecture of the dominated group.

Why the smaller ethnical groups have to accept removing their identity and possibility of developing the architecture in their area in a way that reflects their culture, needs and also gives them possibility to contribute into developing the architectural knowledge through their own practices and through democratic processes?

Why it is difficult for schools of architecture to do support such direction?
Hoshiar Nooraddin
Architecture and Dominance
Hello Hoshiar.
I am intrigued by your concept, and I get the impression that there seem to be an intentional movement by dominant cultures to suppress or eradicate the architecture of the minority, almost like a fascist regime extending its influence to neighbouring states. But don't you suppose that the "dominance" of a particular form of architecture is more attributed to economic efficiency rather than to a conspiracy?
Jofer Magsi
Architecture and Dominance
Jofer, I agree. There is no agenda of dominance (not counting todays`intentionally non-cultural agenda of Political Correctness), but discussing this is a no-no.

Of necessity, the majority of building in any one country tend to be build in accord with the prevailing traditional work practices and economy of the host majority. :)))
Frank John Snelling
Architecture and Dominance
Thank you Hoshiar Nooraddin, "Architecture and Dominance" a very important topic. And you gave an important framework of questions. Your first sentence:
"Do you think that Schools of Architecture follow the culture of ethnical power? "

Definitely they do. The main reason, I think: In contrast to 'building' or 'construction', 'architecture' is an elite-term.

From its earliest times, the early civilisations with their palaces, temples and pyramids, it had this socially elitarian meaning, mainly because at those times it brought something entirely new into the world: 1) temporal durability in large scale (monumentality of the occupied place, creating linear time), 2) social differentiation (builders and ruler) and 3) spatial social separition (defensive architecture).

These new parameters created to a great extent by monumental architecture of early cities and their temples and palaces produced a tremendous difference between the pre-dynastic rural population with their fibroconstructive huts, granaries and barns for their animals, which had to be repaired and rebuilt frequently.

There was another element. Neolithic and metal age agrarian villages had developed a system which to a great extent guaranteed their 'sedentary life' within genetically related regional village clusters. They had an archive of village foundation which guaranteed the village founder-house line a certain local hegemony. Documents of the foundation were fibroconstructive signs bound with local plants which were cyclically renewed at the occasion of local cultic events. In this way they could be preserved often through great periods of time. These ancient "documents" thus gained a great value, since they guaranteed great stability in such sedentary agrarian regions. At the same time they expressed a primary aesthetic principle of PRO-portion as we can see much later, for instance in the plant columns of Egyptian temples with their geometric and static "portions" (shaft) and their natural crown of originally naturally protruding, thus mobile plants (PRO). [similarly also later in Greece: Ionian and Corinthian columns]. 'Coincidence of opposites' an important and evidently very early aesthetic model, sign and symbol!

With this 'monumentalisation' of important elements of predynastic agrarian village cultures, the early urban societies or civilisations had created a value system of social control which dominantly expressed itself in architecture, but also in other domains like worldview (philosophy, religion), aesthetics of luxurious art-objects, and of course, with differentiation of social structure and consequently political and military power.

Characteristic for this development was centralisation of power and social elite in monumentally protected palace complexes or cities related to temples, which - in the framework of early theocracies - had themselves a territorially representative function. Often fairly large early types of empires were controlled in this way.

Paradoxically this 'urban-rural dichotomy' outlined here in its basic characteristics, was a main and continuous factor throughout the history of the Ancient Near East and following Euro-Mediterranean history.

Now, architecture, as it is taught today, in national or urban schools has conserved this elitarian concept, this 'high value' definition of its past and its outlooks. The art historian (note: a historian, not an architect) conserves this 'civilisational' high image of architecture, which gives us all these problems which are discussed in this important "Architecture and Dominance" panel.

The solution? 'Architecture' as it is studied and taught today is similar like a doctor who would care for rich and beautiful princesses only. Beautiful people! He does not care for farmers or craftsmen-patients. Or a zoologist who would apply his knowledge only to beautiful animals, peacocks and the like, a botanist who limits his perspective on orchids. Note that in zoology the elephant and the monocellular miniature being are part of the same domain of study. This should be applied also to architecture opening towards an open scientific perspective into an anthropologically defined field of architecture: all what man builds and ever built. In short: architectural anthropology.

The main point of this approach is: architecture as it is taught today is limited on form, style function and technology. It
does not tell us about the relation of architecture and humans on the long run. If, by studying architecture in its anthropological dimensions we become aware that it definitely formed humans, their worldviews and their societies, we would become much more careful in structuring space as a human environment and orientation system. And we would try to understand the huts of hunters and farmers - worldwide - as well as the human problems created by modern architecture - worldwide!

Our website "IMPLOSION" (based on the anthropology of space) contains several papers dealing with this identity conflict between urban modernism and rural tradition and the attempt to research architecture in anthropological dimensions: (Click the thumbs on the first page and you will see what the website is about). You can also obtain a free CD of the website!

Warm regards
Nold Egenter


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