Archive for March, 2006

Designing power

Volume editorial
2006 #7

Not in May but in April ’68, out of a frivolous Zeitgeist, architect Hans Hollein proclaimed that ‘everything is architecture’. It was a announcement of historical importance. Not only did he reveal an adolescent confidence that the world was at his feet, but also did his words mark the beginning of an architectural adventure beyond personal audacity: if the world was going to mess up with with architecture, in return architecture will start to mess up with everything with everything.  Against the waning modernist belief that architecture could understand, synthesize, translate and ultimately resolve the greatest issues of our time and its steadily withdrewal from the centre of the creation of our life world by becoming ‘just another party’ in the building process, Hollein claimed architecture could play an universal role in envisioning a new hybrid world.
Although the idea ever since found its most resilient adversaries among - exactly! - architects, who always are quick in stating that some issues are not ‘architectural’, and therefore no-go area for the architect, it is never too late to remain stubborn if only by jumping from the frivolous imagination of the sixties to the bloody serious matters of now.
Now. There is not so much to be cheerful about. Just read your newspaper. Wars waged on this or that. Fear of any risks that come with life. You know all that.
So, we reassert: ‘alles ist Architektur’ and architecture is everywhere, and we are going to prove that’s even more true when reality plays hardball with us.

Two issues long this magazine has taken you along the representations of power. First, by showing how power is in the details (#5) and then, by showing power buildings (#6). By doing so we focussed on the way power takes shape and gets form. How it can be recognized. This time however, we do one step further in the Volume research campaign on an the architecture of (a counterveiling) power. This time we show how power is using architecture not to express itself, but to organise itself. For power structures and power relations the key to success is to think and act architecturally. And to challenge  those structures and relations, you might better do the same. A true Macchiavelli is always an architect. (And, a succesful architect should better be a Macchiavelli too, but that’s another story.)
This is how we put the dictum of Hollein into practice. If architecture is released from its materialism and starts to engage with everything, it will become clear how everything is already dealing with architecture. Empires need architects, not as the servants of bricks and mortar, but as builders of the cause. You may think this is an architecture only on the level of the metaphor. But there is more at stake. Architects who socially and historically will make the difference, are the ones for whom building objects is no longer their destiny. They may be the ones who create the edifices of power that will leave a true mark on human history.

Reader, please find enclosed in this issue your itinerary through the landscape of power today. See how this landscape is fully designed, following a hidden logic, and revealing intrinsic systems or patterns. See how ultimately it is less important what power looks like, as it is essential to understand how it is organized by a groundplan. Contentwise, we are presenting these orders in diverse fields ranging from language to celebrity culture, from art to money, from terrorism to demographics. We even show how it can be found in counter power.
Architects! Please reboot your thinking and take a look at your new portfolio…