The Political Dimension of Architecture

Architecture has always influenced the structure of our society. The built environment around us has knowingly-unknowingly shaped our social and personal lives. But have you ever thought what is the driving force behind architecture? Why are certain built environments built the way they are? What is it that defines the urbanity of our surroundings? What is the deciding factor that forms the urban fabric of your cities? Don’t you think, politics is the answer! Architecture and politics work in synergy giving rise to the urban fabric of our society. There is a strong link between the two that needs to be understood by the architectural community today.

Politics & Architecture

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Urban streets as a stage for protests

Politics and Architecture are closely related. The architectural processes have huge dependencies on laws, rules, findings, and policies, etc. Thus, the onus to make decisions for any architectural development lies on the political sake holders of the region. Can architects and designers have a say in these policy-making systems? It is worth thinking if architects can influence the political agendas? The architectural community can have a look at the current scenario and how politics and architecture thrive symbiotically. This will help us to chalk out architectural design agendas that can impact politics and shape the politics of the future rather than politics shaping the future of architecture.

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Politics and Architecture

But does architecture have the power to disrupt the current political stances and restructure a better one? Design is the tool that architects have to influence the politics of the coming years. With a series of societal changes and activism around the corners, architecture must delve into social issues and aim at contributing to solving more serious issues of governance and urbanism.

Architecture can become a political weapon since the built environment stands to reflect the values of the society, Architects can voice opinions and influence the community to think about who we as a society want to be. Thus architects have a big responsibility to influence the opinions and views of the masses as this profession has the tools to strike a debate, critique the status quo, envision, and present the public with better solutions.

The Political Dimension

The way social activism tries to push people and the governments to rethink the policies and systems, architects must also try to push for societal issues through design solutions. We can also stage our activism to push for better policymaking and inclusions of the architectural community in urban decisions and planning committees thus trying to shift the focus from politics-led architectural development to a more need-based sustainable architectural development. There is a need for representation from architectural communities in the decisions making systems for cities and built environments, rather than just designing as prescribed by the ruling parties ad their political agendas.

Thus, we can say that architecture surely has a political dimension. The need is to identify and work on these dimensions efficiently. The architectural environment has the power to encourage as well as discourage certain activities and practices in society. Architecture has the great potential to make people think! It enables the masses to view public issues, have an opinion on them, and express their views in a better way. Thus, as architects have the power to design and profess the societal life, we must advocate for change, highlight the shortcomings, and design for social progress; through design as well as activism.

All in All

It is rare that architects get involved in a political debate, or publicly express a political opinion. But isn’t it better that if we can have an opinion and influence the masses in the right direction, it needs to be done? We have the power of design thinking, we can visualize and looks at issues from a problem-solving edge, moreover, we have the tools and skills to understand users, empathize with users’ needs, and design for a better user experience. Then is it not possible that we look at policies and governance with the same ideology and help the masses to have a perception of politics through our design ideologies and thought processes? Can we not influence them in the right direction and voice out concerns in a way to stop political agendas from overpowering the urban fabric.

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Sudarshan Uppunda
Sudarshan Uppunda
Born & brought up in Bombay, based in Bengaluru, Sudarshan is an ambivert who can be outgoing-open and reserved at the same time. It all depends on the vibes! He deeply believes in vibes and personal energies. As an Architectural Journalist and Architect, he aims to write in a way that his content is relatable for all. Design is what interests him the most and he keeps trying his hand at different design verticals such as graphic, UI & UX design at times. He likes to write and explore varied topics on Workplace environments, Architecture, and Culture. He is quite active in architectural content writing and has written for various platforms like RTF, The Arch Insider, Gharpedia, etc. He strongly believes that whatever one does in life, one must do it with passion & be happy with it.

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