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Power and Architecture

Power and Architecture: The Construction of Capitals and the Politics of Space

Edited by Michael Minkenberg
Series: Space and Place
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Power and Architecture
    Book Description:

    Capital cities have been the seat of political power and central stage for their state's political conflicts and rituals throughout the ages. In the modern era, they provide symbols for and confer meaning to the state, thereby contributing to the "invention" of the nation. Capitals capture the imagination of natives, visitors and outsiders alike, yet also express the outcomes of power struggles within the political systems in which they operate. This volume addresses the reciprocal relationships between identity, regime formation, urban planning, and public architecture in the Western world. It examines the role of urban design and architecture in expressing (or hiding) ideological beliefs and political agenda. Case studies include "old" capitals such as Rome, Vienna, Berlin and Warsaw; "new" ones such as Washington DC, Ottawa, Canberra, Ankara, Bonn, and Brasilia; and the "European" capital Brussels. Each case reflects the authors' different disciplinary backgrounds in architecture, history, political science, and urban studies, demonstrating the value of an interdisciplinary approach to studying cities.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-010-8
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. viii-xii)
  5. List of Maps
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction. Power and Architecture: The Construction of Capitals, the Politics of Space, and the Space of Politics
    (pp. 1-30)

    In late November 2008, a remarkable event occurred in the old and new capital of Germany, Berlin. The Federal Minister of Transport, Building, and Urban Affairs joined a group of architects and journalists and announced the winner of a competition for the rebuilding of the Berlin Royal Palace (the HohenzollernStadtschloss) in the old center of the city, on the island of the Spree River. While the specifics of the inside of the building were not yet decided—along with its future use—the exterior had been fixed prior to the competition, not by a group of architects, urban designers,...

  7. Chapter 1 Capital Architecture and National Identity
    (pp. 31-52)

    When it comes to the confluence of architecture and power, capital cities occupy a place of special significance. In these cities, especially in cases where they have been explicitly designed to be capitals, the architecture and urban design sponsored by the state carries an undeniable political agenda, albeit one subject to multiple interpretations. Capital cities, by definition, need to both house and represent the seat of government and other “national” institutions. At the same time, capital cities are not equivalent to nation-states; they are still separately identifiable as cities, even though they are certainly cities of a very specialized kind....

  8. Chapter 2 A City of the People, by the People, for the People? Democracy and Capital-Building in Washington, DC, Ottawa, Canberra, and Brasília
    (pp. 53-105)

    Capital cities are not only the result of political decisions; they are meant to embody and envelop them (see Minkenberg, Introduction, this volume; and Vale 2008). Capital cities in democracies are confronted with a particular challenge: like those in old monarchies and modern non-democratic regimes, they are to express the will and vision of the sovereign. But unlike in the other cases, the sovereign in a democracy is a rather abstract and broadly collective one: the people. Hence, from a normative political or regime oriented angle, the typologies of capital cities as suggested by Rapoport (1993), Daum (2005), Hall (2006),...

  9. Chapter 3 Capital-Building in Post-War Germany
    (pp. 106-127)

    The erosion of the old “societas civilis,” civil society, and the separation of art and politics has been an enduring process since the Italian Renaissance. But the functional subsystems of art and politics continued to mutually strengthen their acceptance in the whole society. Architects, as a rule, served anart of power.Only occasionally—in revolutionary periods—did they demonstrate thecounter-power of the arts.Proponents of democracy hoped to reach a balance between power and arts in a communication free of power—as Habermas would call it. Experts and juries have substituted the decisional powers of rulers and fulfilled...

  10. Chapter 4 Berlin: Three Centuries as Capital
    (pp. 128-151)

    Berlin is one of Europe’s younger capitals when compared to Rome, Paris, or London. For a long time it was merely the residence of the prince-electors of Brandenburg and by no means the capital of a large, clearly defined territorial state. From the standpoint of “power and architecture,” Berlin’s historical role did not begin until 1701, when the prince of Brandenburg was crowned King in Prussia. And only after 1871, with the beginning of the German Empire, did it become a European metropolis—a status that was lost with the National Socialists’ seizure of power in 1933. That regime’s criminal...

  11. Chapter 5 Image, Itinerary, and Identity in the “Third” Rome
    (pp. 152-177)

    On September 20, 1870, Rome became Italian. King Victor Emanuel II’s troops, converging from the north and south of the unified peninsula, laid siege to the city at Pope Pius IX’s new gateway, the Porta Pia, and claimed Rome as the capital of the new nation. This momentous event brought Rome’s second great civilization cycle under Christian rule to a close. Third Rome, La Terza Roma, is the catchword for the installation of a new, national, secular regime in the millennial capital. The alterations wrought upon the city incumbent on such a change of regime were eventually to be as...

  12. Chapter 6 “A Capital without a Nation”: Red Vienna, Architecture, and Spatial Politics between the World Wars
    (pp. 178-207)

    Urbanistically, Vienna is probably best known for the monumental Ringstrasse of parks and public buildings built in the 1870s and 1880s around the inner city. The Ringstrasse itself was a wide tree-lined boulevard, laid out to follow the pentagonal outline of the old ramparts that had encircled the inner core of the old city since the thirteenth century (Map 6.1).

    In 1858 the walls were razed by imperial decree. By 1865, the boulevard was completed, and over the course of the next two decades along it were built the institutions and monuments of the Liberal era: Parliament, city hall, museums...

  13. Chapter 7 The Ruins of Socialism: Reconstruction and Destruction in Warsaw
    (pp. 208-226)

    In February 2007, the best-known and most controversial building in Warsaw, the Palace of Culture, was listed by the regional conservation office. This communist-era skyscraper in the city’s center joined a list of heritage sites in Poland protected from destruction or significant alteration (Urzykowski 2007; Wilczyński 2007). This is a noteworthy event in the urban history of Warsaw. After all, the Palace of Culture is a monument that was created to symbolize the Soviet Empire, a historical and political order which carries few, if any, positive meanings for the Poles today.¹ In fact, the listing occurred at a time when...

  14. Chapter 8 State Building as an Urban Experience: The Making of Ankara
    (pp. 227-260)

    One of the main concerns of this volume is to uncover the relationship between power and architecture, or in more general terms, between politics and urban space, as this relationship is manifest particularly in the making of a capital city. Along these lines, one of the questions posed by Michael Minkenberg in the Introduction is “What is the relationship between particular styles and designs and the power structure of the regime responsible for building the capital?” One way to approach this question is to look at urban design and architectural styles as a reflection of the political project of a...

  15. Chapter 9 Building Capital Mindscapes for the European Union
    (pp. 261-286)

    Carefully designed public spaces, large buildings, and monumental sculptures characterize most European capital cities and stand as symbols of European nations. National governments and local elites continue to create new symbols of national identity, such as thegrands projetsin Paris, post-reunification capital projects in Berlin, or new sky-scrapers in London’s Dockland area. The prominence of such construction in media reports highlights the relative absence of buildings and urban forms representing the supranational European Union (EU). Despite the effectiveness of using architecture and urban planning to reinforce a group identity, neither Brussels, the main EU capital, nor Strasbourg, Luxembourg, or...

  16. Note on Contributors
    (pp. 287-289)
  17. Index
    (pp. 290-306)