May 27, 1992
350 p., 7 x 10
156 b/w illus.
Architecture, Power, and National Identity
- Lawrence J. Vale
Out of Print.
Winner of the Society of Architectural Historians’ 1994 First Annual Spiro Kostof Book Award for Architecture and Urbanism
Throughout history, architecture, and urban design have been manipulated in the service of politics. Because government buildings serve as symbols of the state, we can learn much about a political regime by observing closely what it builds. In this book, Lawrence J. Vale explores parliamentary complexes in capital cities on six continents, showing how the buildings housing national government institutions are products of the political and cultural balance of power within pluralist societies. By viewing architecture and urban design in the light of political history and cultural production, Vale expands the scope and cogency of design criticism and demonstrates the manipulation of environmental meaning is an important force in urban development. Vale begins by tracing the evolution of the modern designed capital—from Washington, D.C., Canberra, New Delhi, and Ankara, to the post-World War II capitals of Chandigarh and Brasília, to Abuja and Dodoma, planned in the 1970s and still largely unrealized. He then provides close readings of the architecture, urban design, and political history of four smaller parliamentary complexes completed in the the, in Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, and Bangladesh. These essays situate the parliamentary designs in teh wider context of postcolonial struggles to build the symbols and institutions of democratic government during periods of rapid political and economic change. In the final chapter of the book, Vale addresses the dilemmas facing designers who undertake to deliver "national identity" as part of their design commission.
About the author (1992)
"Extraordinarily stimulating, suggestive, and incisive. The main thesis, that 'capitols' are the outcome of a combination of aesthetic motivations, immediate political circumstances, and the cultural composition of the societies they are the capitols for, is extraordinarily effectively documented. An extremely fine book."—Clifford Geertz
"Challenging . . . a fascinating journey through the architecture and urban design of parliamentary complexes. . . . Vale has made a significant move beyond formalist architectural commentary, injecting a political and social force into design criticism. . . . Architecture, Power and National Identity has many provocative offerings for both the architectural educationist and practising architect."—Darrel Crilley, Times Higher Education Supplement
"A beautifully produced book, replete with photographs, maps, and fine drawings. It offers a remarkable opportunity to visit and examine post-colonial capitol complexes in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, and Papua New Guinea as well as designed capital cities, including Chandigarh and Brasilia. Vale's broad background in design and international relations is evident in his analysis, which draws also on recent ethnographic work."—Jane C. Loeffler, Progressive Architecture
"A scholarly, fresh, timely work. . . . Get the book, read it, wallow in it. Learn as I have from this engrossing survey of capital cities and capitol complexes, from this challenging theoretical and taxonomic exegesis, from these deft case studies. Relax with an author who carries one readily from a broad conceptual framework to a set of focused, analytic enquiries; who moves imperturbably from urban planning to achitectural detail."—Environment and Planning
"A book that will appeal to a wide range of readers. . . . An impressive, even ambitious, comparative account in which the author's considerable research is matched by the admirable caution of his claims. . . . [It] adds very significantly to our understanding of the social and political production of the built environment."—Anthony King, Journal of Asian Studies
"[Vale's] book makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in the cultural forces behind architecture and urban design and in the ways that parliamentary and other major government buildings are emblematic of the political history and power elites of their countries. This work represents a valuable expansion of the purview of design criticism by treating the designs of government officials as equal in importance to the physical designs of architects."—Michael Y. Seelig, Canadian Journal of Urban Research
"It is clear to the reader that this is an excellent and much needed book. . . . Architecture, Power and National Identity is a powerful and compelling work and is a major contribution to the history of urban form."—David Gosling, Town Planning Review
Sabina Sun 對不起，我去了一趟台中市政府，唉呀，真可惜。這個中部的腹地那麼大，應該要好好規劃市政府大樓的建築，把它弄得更有氣勢一點。還有，那個歌劇院設計得不夠好，因為它是公共建築，應該要比較雄偉，因為七期周圍的大樓都是高層大樓，所以不知道為何沒有把歌劇院蓋得很有氣勢，或至少蓋得很科技現代感?! ..... 總之，這座城市的景觀，真的應該要重新規劃，因為她比台北還有潛力變成一個完全展新的城市地景。抱歉，多講幾句，希望你們未來大幹一場，哈哈。
補充: 二次戰後，美國的國家復甦計畫，其中一個重要的計畫就是，五角大廈和白宮的規劃與設計。以及整個總統府坐落的華盛頓城中心的規劃。而反越戰運動的成果，最後留下來的，就是一個非常劃時代的越戰紀念公園的地景設計。為什麼? 因為這就是一個精神上的認同地景阿，時代的刻痕必須留在地景之中，後代才能對這塊土地有記憶和認同阿。所以說，其實像這類的東西，以後應該要多注意! 互勉之。