Thursday, June 07, 2007

Power And Architecture

In the dawn of the 21st century, perhaps the word ‘EMPIRE’ would seem best to describe the world of today. Boundaries of cities are disappearing, while the influence of the world wide web and interest-based organizations are dictating the perception of the new boundaries for the ‘neo-nomads’ of the world. In the light of this, I personally would say this is perhaps a phenomenon of ‘POST-EMPIRE’, a term I understand it as a state where the mind overwhelms the body, where the perception becomes the consciousness of the person. On a larger city, global scale, I see the post-empire characteristics lies in the open-source content of the Internet or specifically Web 2.0, which has re-defined the way people, interacts, and the way global economy, politics and architecture work.

Where do all these lead me to? I am very much intrigued by the notion of ‘post-empire’ and I believe in its geopolitical implications. I see the seeking of the ‘Power’ in architecture also as a post-empire characteristic, one in which architects of the coming times should consider in order to have their discipline depicting the impact on the world, as it should be. (At least, that’s what I personally think)

Power in various terms of:

1) Power within the architecture world

2) Power with various disciplines

What defines power? What are its manifestations?

In the example of Singapore, the popular urban planner Liu Thai Ker has in a way transcended in this arena. The way he uses the power of urban planning and city developments, and in collaboration with the geopolitical issues, is commendable. From a tiny city state of Singapore, it is an amazing feat that his influence goes beyond to many other bigger Asian cities, even China, where government authorities often respectfully call him as “Boss Liu”.

In Singapore, utilities and standard of public housing has the power to give the politicians an edge. All these design of amenities, and infrastructure includes contributions from architects who spend countless energy to ‘make them work’. But they remain behind the scene or rather; many just want to remain behind the scene. They might not care OR they do not understand yet the extent of such a power they can hold.

Now with the youth of Singapore given so much youth initiatives. Are they/we ready? Can the architecture discipline be pushed? This is my personal burden in the post-empire cities we live in today …