Conflict and Natural Disasters
Architectural identity and politics
Salam -Peace- everybody

Well, as an architect I believe that architecture as a good representative of societies and cultures is a strategic tool for political control and domination by eliminating the development of architecture and as a result eliminating the cultural progress and social consciousness of their own identity ..

I will appreciate your contribution about this and if you like examples ...
Alma Salim
Architectural identity and politics
Dear Alma,

Agreed. Although architecture has also well served to promote certain groups within a given society (aristocrats, kings, merchants, etc...) and ensure their domination over the masses.

It is said (I don't know where the proof of this may lie) that the Ottomans prohibit non-Muslims from building sanctuaries with domes after they conquered Constantinople. If this is correct (and evidence from churches built after this period will perhaps prove it), then it would be an example to what you are seeking to prove. The first thing that Conqueror Mehmed II (Fatih) did when he entered Constantinople with his forces was to pray in the Cathedral Hagia Sophia, and later on he commissioned his architect Atik Sinan to build a mosque to match it (Fatih Mosque, rebuilt 1771) on a prominent site of the Byzantine Holy Apostles Church; it is rumored that cut the poor architect's hands after he realized that the dome of Fatih Mosque did not match that of the Hagia Sophia.

It sounds like you have some examples yourself as well... Tell us what you have in mind.

Ozgur Basak Alkan
Architectural identity and politics

The worst thing you can do to man is to rattle his/her sense of well being. Architecture is one amongst many ways to do this. For example Palestine, once every so often the Israeli armies come in and destroys a couple of buildings here and there. This simple act destroys the heart of the Palestinian, architecture contributing a major aspect to a sense of well being. This is an extreme example but the play of this kind exists in even the most "civilized" of societies. Powers that be will always enforce rules that are in their interests. Only rarely you'll see otherwise. The key is to have resolve, patience and hope that the tides will change. Re-affirming and establishing a cultural and social identity starts with the mind. Architectural and social change will happen, only if the mind and heart is sound. So lets work towards this. Best Regards.
Abdul Basit Mukri
Architectural identity and politics

Well yes that is true..

First from history many imperialists has used architecture to affirm their power over societies as well as strategic occupational tool, a very clear example was the example given by Ozgur Basak Alkan who contributed the first. Even in Europe architecture was linked to crime by Adolf Loos and social improvement by Le Corbusier, recently architecture became a tool for demolishing social and cultural identity as the example in Palestinian architecture mentioned by Abdul Basit Mukri. Moreover, from international arena building has considered to have culture (The Culture of Building by Howard Davis), (Warped Space: Art, Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture by Anthony Vidler) and of course many others. And I would add here a crucial point, which is the history. If history is destroyed, people loose the linkage to their roots and identity becomes with no feature but blurring image; for example, the historical sites in Nablus West Bank and Hebron. Those sites have linkage to the narrative created by people through their life and their fathers lives these narrative, some old sites like Hammamat and soup factories have no more values as they have been demolished many times and so their functions are lost as well -- the stories has ended sadly. This is the first issue (Result: functions and narrative that created societies and cultures can be erased due to the devil called politics).

The second issue is the role played by urban design and planning -- one example is the strategic planning systems that are used by Israel to control over large areas (horizontal expansion, top hills, location for the settlements, walls). Look at the book A Civilian Occupation: The Politics of Israeli Architecture by Rafi Segal and David Tartakover, which has many articles written about the politics in the Israeli architecture. (Review available at

Same for America. Many debates raised after September 11th about the role of planning and security and how can good urban planning affect social life --see the book unknown city review at (

Is this so complex to apply? Yes,I think so, but as you said Abdul Basit, identity starts with mind -- and I say with consciousness and individuals...

Many thanks,
Alma Salim


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