Renzo Piano Building Workshop | de Vylder Vinck Taillieu | Kieran Timberlake | Emergency Architecture & Human Rights | Youssef Haidar | CF Møller | Combas | Forensic Architecture | Danae Stratou and Yanis Varoufakis | Piranesi | Typology: Prison
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In a post-9/11, post-financial crisis, post-truth world, this month’s AR investigates power and justice and its relationship to space, architecture and the city.
Treading the ambiguous and fluctuating boundaries of jurisdiction, Nabil Ahmed’s keynote contemplates the spatial nature of justice, from the architectural to the planetary, while Danae Stratou and Yanis Varoufakis find that, rather than bringing countries closer together, globalisation reinforces the territorial divisions and walls of violence it should in theory make obsolete. The cruelty and brutality of these divisions – alongside abattoirs, executions, refugee camps and methods of crowd control – are rendered in full dimensionalised detail in Theo Deutinger’s Handbook of Tyranny, our Book of the Month.
The classroom prototype designed by Emergency Architecture & Human Rights offers the 80,000 Syrians seeking asylum in the Za’atari refugee camp, Jordan, the hope of education and a sense of ownership in a uniquely contested and supposedly temporary territory. In the cities of Lagos and Addis Ababa in Africa, it is the ‘building as development’ mantra, constructing enclaves of luxury housing for the nation’s elite, which is displacing thousands of urban dwellers to the outskirts.
With the question of incarceration coming under increasing scrutiny and more than 10 million people in the world’s prisons, this month’s Typology explores a short history of the prison, from the Bastille to America’s ‘supermax’ correctional institutions. The ‘most humane prison in the world’ – CF Møller’s Storstrøm Prison in Denmark – contrasts vividly with the vibrancy and surreal autonomy of San Pedro prison in La Paz, Bolivia, where inmates live with their families, earn a living, and mete out their own rules and punishments.
Architecture is both the instrument of violence and the palimpsest of its evidence. Pulling at the threads of architectural forensics, Francesco Sebregondi, a research fellow for Forensic Architecture, argues that when used as evidence, architecture exposes the ways that claims of truth are constructed.
The shell of a house converted into the Beit Beirut museum was used as a deadly sentinel and lookout during the Lebanese Civil War and bears the evidence of conflict in its bullet-riddled facade, concrete bunkers and strategically severed staircases – but the collective history of the still unresolved war which the museum is to hold has yet to be written.
Justice and power also find architectural incarnations in the city, with spaces for the execution of law and litigation such as Renzo Piano’s glass ziggurat at the Tribunal de Paris, the unique and extraordinary territorial gymnastics performed by foreign embassies such as the US Embassy in London by Kieran Timberlake, and the new precedent set for communal and democratic civic space in the 21st-century city by de Vylder Vinck Taillieu’s transformation of Ledeberg Town Hall in Ghent.
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