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Architecture as a Political Means

architecture as a political means
Architecture as a Political Means


In a world where politics is often perceived as dead, architecture can be seen as the last bastion of power in society. Although architecture’s role has been changing over the years, it is not surprising that the field of architecture is still very political. The very basis of the profession is founded on the principle that the final result of architecture must be a piece of art, but that art is not just a matter of individual interpretation. As it is described in the opening quote of this essay, architecture “must reflect the social context and cultural values that are the product of its own time.” Architecture is, therefore, a political form of art, as much as the fine arts and literature are.

The Political Dimensions of Architecture.

Postmodernism was the first political movement that changed the way architecture was viewed. While it aimed to deconstruct traditional modes of beauty and rationality with the intention to create art that was more true to life, it also led to the questioning of architecture’s role in society and the design of the city. Postmodernism’s critique of architecture is, in a certain way, part of the reaction against modernism, that was also marked by a change of values, as seen in the quote above from the opening paragraph. Postmodern architecture, therefore, was founded on the idea of architecture as a political art form, and many architects have embraced the philosophy of postmodernism.

Postmodernism and Politics.

Postmodern architecture often takes an ironic approach to politics. This often leads to some critics describing this as a form of political cynicism. However, it is important to note that such an attitude isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it can be used to discuss the politics of urban planning and the political dimensions of architecture in a positive way. Postmodern architects embraced the idea of politics to create art that was more truthful to life. Their designs were, therefore, not based on a system of values and rules, but on their own interpretation of the world.

Architecture, Politics, and the City.

Postmodernism is an important part of the political discourse in architecture, and it has also had a huge impact on urban planning. Postmodernist urban planning often relies on the idea of a “city of the future,” that is different from the present. Often, this involves the use of new technologies and the transformation of old buildings, which is often done to create a future that is more livable. The modernist idea of creating a “dream city” is often seen as a dystopian utopia, as it is seen as being based on the idea that the city is an extension of the individual’s ego. Postmodernist architecture, instead, seeks to embrace the idea of the city as a collective body and emphasizes the idea of cooperation and working together through the idea of the city as a “social organism.”

Architecture and Urban Politics.

While the postmodernist movement criticized modernist architecture, it was also the beginning of an era where architecture became more political. As the quote from the opening paragraph already showed, postmodernism was the first time that architecture was perceived as a political art form. Thus, many architects began to embrace the political philosophy of the movement. Although this political movement was embraced by some architects, others were critical of it, especially those who were connected to the traditional European architectural schools. This is where the modernist movement was born, and it was this form of architecture that was then adopted by the rest of the world.

The Architectural Critique.

However, the postmodernist critique went beyond just architecture. The modernist movement had also marked the beginning of a new era of urban planning, which was also heavily criticized. Postmodernist urban planning, on the other hand, often embraced the idea of creating cities that were more livable and better for the human body. However, although the postmodernist critique of modernist urban planning was mainly embraced by architects, it also affected the academic world. The postmodernist critique of the modernist movement affected urban planning and architecture at a more intellectual level. The architectural critique of the modernist movement was, therefore, more philosophical in nature.


Although architecture is a very political field, it wasn’t until the postmodernist movement that it was widely embraced by many architects and academics. Postmodernism is also the one that marks the beginning of the global city, as many architects embraced the idea that architecture was not only about creating beautiful buildings, but that it was also an important tool in creating the future of the world. As such, the postmodernist movement marked the beginning of the era of the global city and the idea of the city as a collective body.

Anand Kumar
Anand Kumar

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