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Beginning with the simple table from which they take their name, banks developed into one of the most splendid urban building types as they sought to reassure depositors. Today they are on the verge of disappearing altogether
Big houses for feudal rulers advertised the right to power of those within, while protecting them from the people they exploited to build them – today, the tradition continues in the hands of oligarchs
From Kafkaesque labyrinths of columns and arches to the abstraction of Modernist towers: the representation of justice in a world ruled by its absence is an intractable task
Since time immemorial, and from continent to continent, saunas or bathhouses have played a community role, stripping their users of social distinctions and affording a rich seam for architects
From the green quadrangles of medieval almshouses to towering banlieues, the history of mass housing represents architecture at its most high-minded – which makes its failures all the more painful
With the 1940s came a compulsion to move headquarters from the inner-city sprawl to more tranquil environs out of town. Is the resurgent migration a retreat to a natural idyll or a calculated isolation?
Religious belief systems remain powerful and distinct but, alongside the differences, comes a call for greater tolerance and cohesion. Can the worship of different gods take place under one roof?
The fire station is a unique blend of domesticity and workplace, with the engines brought as close as possible to the living quarters in search of the world’s briefest commute (preferably via pole)
The university is one of the oldest surviving institutions in the western world. It has colonised the globe, its architecture reflecting the prevailing ideology – of which it is the reproductive machinery
A sealed volume, the tomb has no interior – or if it does, you really don’t want to go there. The exterior, by contrast, is a screen onto which we project our hopes and fears about the other side of life