|

Empowering Architecture

  • Gonzalo Herrero Delicado is the Architecture Programme Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts and part of this year’s LFA Curation Panel. In this piece, Gonzalo shares his thoughts on Power. 

When I first heard about Power as the theme for the next edition of the London Festival of Architecture, I felt really excited about the many different directions and debate opportunities that this theme can bring to the festival. In particular, I was interested in exploring the idea behind the transformative role of architecture to empower people.

 

The first thing that came to mind was Deyan Sudjic’s seminal title ‘The Edifice Complex’ (The Penguin Press, 2005) – a must-read book for anyone submitting a proposal to this year’s festival. As he explains in this book, architecture must be understood primarily not as art, but as an expression of power over a landscape that will last far longer than we do. A unique instrument of statecraft.

 

Since its origins, architecture has been used as a medium to represent power, whether religious, political or economic. From pyramids and cathedrals, to stadiums and corporate skyscrapers, all of them represent how the rich and powerful have shaped the architectural language of our cities in history. Today, global capitals such as London are the reflection of the multiple interests of governments, corporations and individuals at a worldwide scale.

 

On the other hand, over the last ten years we’ve seen how the neo-liberal pillars sustaining and giving shape to our cities have trembled as people took over control of public spaces to make their voices heard. From the Occupy Movement to Extinction Rebellion, these actions have catalysed unrest and a will for change all over the world. Citizens are taking over some of the most iconic public spaces and creating loci in which to vocalise collective dissent.

 

While in these instances, the term ‘public space’ recovered its original meaning, it also became one of the central topics and claims for many young architects. But, can your public spaces and buildings actually be reframed and transformed to empower citizens to take back control of the city?

 

I look forward to seeing the proposals submitted to this year’s festival, hoping that some of them will address this important issue and whether architecture today is designed for the few or the many.

More Blog Posts.


How do we use innovation and insight to build an even more connected and caring borough?

How do we use innovation and insight to build an even more connected and caring borough?

In a year of turbulence and challenge, families and communities have been disconnected and isolated, bringing many challenges for residents in London and beyond. In turn, pressure on services has continued to rise in order to care for the resulting…

READ MORE
Jestico + Whiles on Darwin Court

Jestico + Whiles on Darwin Court

After nearly 20 successful years, the principles of social interaction and personal choice that we embodied in Darwin Court are more relevant and important than ever. Today, approximately 3.8 million older people live alone, with increased risk of social isolation…

READ MORE
How public realm 2.0 can learn from digital space

How public realm 2.0 can learn from digital space

In London we have a diversity of high-quality public spaces, which have evolved over time and heavily contributed to the ways we use our city. As we emerge from lockdowns and react to new patterns of living and working we…

READ MORE
High Density, Low Rise, Zero Carbon

High Density, Low Rise, Zero Carbon

  There are many well-used references for advocating low rise density over height in a masterplan: that housing densities in low-rise Notting Hill are higher than many tower blocks; or that Barcelona and Paris are denser than New York. Many…

READ MORE
EcoWorld London on how to create a healthy community

EcoWorld London on how to create a healthy community

Image: Aberfeldy Street, Courtesy of EcoWorld London When creating a new community, you cannot just care about the next generation. You have to care about every generation of users and occupiers: doing justice to the people who have lived there…

READ MORE
Unlocking Spaces for Everyone

Unlocking Spaces for Everyone

Image: Elements of Bioclimatic Design © AKT II   Bioclimatic design serves the intersection between ‘biology’ and climate’, and is essentially about designing buildings and landscapes with a response to the local climate so that people have a better experience.…

READ MORE