How can Architectural Propaganda be reinterpreted? Check out these designers' ideas
By Justine Testado|
Monday, Apr 24, 2017
In arch out loud's week-long flash competition “Propaganda”, designers everywhere were challenged to explore the relationship between architecture and its ability to influence the psychological state of a society. The open-ended brief had entrants express an idea that they believe pertains to the reinterpreting and repurposing of architectural propaganda.
“Architectural propaganda, like architecture itself, is inescapable. The built environment cannot be ignored or bypassed like other art forms,” arch out loud writes in the brief. “Buildings, monuments and public spaces are on constant display and portray ideas that reach far beyond tangible experiences, entering the psychological state of a population.”
At the end of the seven-day competition, the jury — which included architects like Yaohua Wang, Brian Johnsen, and Sebastian Schmaling — selected the three prize-winners, three Directors' Choices, and honorable mentions. Have a look at the entries below.
1ST PRIZE: “Device as space, space as device: A propaganda of spaces” by DAVIDE MASSERINI | Milan, Italy
Project description: “Device - Middle English, from Old French devis, division, wish, and Old French devise, design, both from Latin dīvīsus, dīvīsa, past participle of dīvidere, to divide, separate
Mankind’s growth doesn’t seem to stop, Earth has reached its full capacity already in 2030.Consequences of this humungous expansion could be seen all around, coral reefs disappearing, glaciers melting, sea levels increasing, climate changing.
Today, March 3rd 2050, marks a turning point in History, we witness the very first attempt of human kind in trying to restore what we carelessly destroyed through the ages.Oil-based means of infrastructure have been banned, people will get back on their feet from now on.
This move sets a milestone for generations to come, a propaganda of spaces that is not willing to stop, the reclamation of space as the new leitmotif for further development.
In order to avoid extreme walking distances between different services and destinations, what once used to be called ‘streets’, have now been converted in a fertile ground of activities. Placed directly ‘next door’, the common Wall Street business man can now spend his breaks at the Funnel, enjoying his best singer or take a nap at the Garden of Eden, kissed by a gentle breeze.
Space becomes the new man’s device for evading the routine. A device conceived at a different scale, thought to give the best experience at every given moment.
The ‘devices’ are several and differ both in shape and function, they are complementary, still independent.Three are the main typologies: PERFORMING, RESTING and BASIC NEEDS.
Following these three categories, the space-devices are declined in different environments, following the typology they are part of the space has been designed differently - dancing, singing, contemplating at the Mirror Pond, at the Up-Down Ziggurat, at the Funnel, at the Mountain - , the typology of resting - sleeping, napping at the Hilly Lands, at the Metropolitan House, at the Garden of Eden -, the typology of basic needs - personal hygiene, eating, cooking, mating at the Sweep, at the Fun Palace, at the Asteroids - ”
2ND PRIZE: “POTEMKINE” by PAUL NIVELLE, VICTOR DRUOT | Bordeaux, France
Project description: “Propaganda creates a movement, a trend in order to persuade, indoctrinate groups of people. Propaganda mutes the opposition, lies to the people and undertake constructions that will ruin the country but that will glorify its power. All these methods reduce people's freedom and always hides a dark evil. Let's call a spade a spade and be faithful to the meaning of words so as to never forget the horrors brought on by propaganda. However, all architectural projects are engaged and carry a message without necessarily being architectural propaganda (for instance Beaubourg & HighTech). Therefore the answer to this topic is rather more sarcastic and cynical.
It offers a product that could change the architectural face of the town/country the tyrant rules in. Erase a war zone or a building, make people believe a site such as Aleppo has never been destroyed. Censor the architecture that was thought to remain over the years and that was inescapable.
Two references feed this project, on the one hand the village of Potemkin, used at the peak of propaganda that spoke of architecture (of false architecture). On the other hand, a reference to 'They Live' a film by John Carpenter in which the protagonist finds glasses that reveal all the propaganda hidden in advertisements and visuals seen by the population.
The screens and even the VR glasses create the wallpapers, the sceneries of fake villages and industries in order to create the illusion that all is well in the world. The Potemkin glasses are therefore the perfect solution for tyrants to silence the people and show them only what they most wish to see. The first image shows how the glasses work. The second image represents a letter addressed to a head of state in which can be seen an ad for the glasses in a graphical constructivist style. It is important to anticipate the distortions brought on by technology in order to allow people not to be blind to what is happening.”
3RD PRIZE: LUO PENG | Beijing, China
KESRA MANSURI | New York, New York, United States
Project description: “Over the past decade, the government of Turkey has been increasingly restricting freedom of speech, accessibility to internet and controlling various media outlets. During the Gezi Park Protests in 2013, government's oppression of free speech and media coverage has got significantly worsened. As a result majority of the population is unable to be informed of the ongoing corruption and oppression of the government.
Taksim Square is Istanbul's one of the oldest and yet most active region among all. It serves as a transportation hub with thousands of people passing through. It is also where major protests, festivals, events and etc. take place. Perhaps the most prominent building at the square is the Ataturk Cultural Center(AKM). Completed in 1969, it has been the symbol of modernity in Istanbul. It's front facade directly faces the square and is made of ultra light aluminum screens that allows for transparency and visual connectivity between the square and the interior. Due to its location, AKM has been vandalized by protestors throughout the years by placing large banners and posters on to its facade. For this competition, I am proposing to overlay a layer of transparent OLED screens, in order to allow for individuals to freely express their opinions and views regardless of the government oppression. Furthermore, This system would be minimally invasive due to its transparent appearance on the facade when it is not being used.
In the following few weeks, there will be a historic referendum in Turkey determining whether the nation should abandon its parliamentary system and morph into a dictatorship. The first image is a scenario where such architectural intervention could allow for people to express and freely communicate their views and reasons to mass audience. Currently the government is not allowing any public rally to promote "No (HAYIR)" for the new constitution. Therefore, this intervention would be the tool necessary to empower the society into making the right decision for themselves. In architecture propaganda has been mostly about display of power and creating false security based on fear and intimidation. In contrast, this project is offering freedom to access to the most valuable asset of our generation; Information. Its dynamic nature would constantly renew its content with up-to-date data allowing room for change and resilience.”
DIRECTORS' CHOICE: CHEN MINGJIA | Hangzhou, China
‘In that sense, this is globalization. It becomes self-perpetuating, where it almost doesn’t matter who is the originator. It becomes a sort of authorless concept. ’ — Reinier de Graaf
In the world congested with global cooperation and international network, former propaganda of nationalism has to desaturate its powerful expression and to quit its prominent position. Instead of sitting above, the essence of dominance altered its form, abloom in the global market, where products and services compete for the market share and value, humbly lying low and going under. Under the cover of “convenience” or “revolution”, powers have reached meat and potatoes of the public’s, fueling the target while harvesting faith, dependence and loyalty. It was so powerful that elaborated veil as such, corrosively washed away the existing texture of the living environment and as a replacement, printed its own name through both programatic and formal means. The group who voices out has changed, thus a new ontological topography of the world has been to form.
‘Small businesses are the future.’ —Jack Ma
Something propaganda wants to exclude is the diversity of individuals’ minds, which imply uncertainty and social instability. An ideal propaganda resembles a model of monopoly indoctrinizing an uniformed psyche, which restrains the expression of characteristics. However, monopoly will confront the wave of the next generation, which is vibrant, colorful and endurant. As the first step of a silent resistance from the bottom-up, small structures choose to fade into a same color and aggregate as a collaboration, supporting their own tent of claims. They will break free the bubble barrier and the shell above, and color the surface with their own identical colors.”
DIRECTORS' CHOICE: ”pink is the NEW HOUSE !” by DAVID LEGEAI SIMONA POPADIĆ | Nantes, France
Project description: “Propaganda is defined as a way of spreading misleading information in order to manipulate the masses. With the idea of progress, that is essential for development, also comes the idea of an utopian progressed society. Desire for utopia (u-topos), of the Greek word for a place that is not yet here, may provide a pretty nice situation for propaganda to come in. Since topos means place, and architecture understands the constitution of place, we come to those two beings connected in propaganda. But how?
Architecture in propaganda is usually used as a demonstration of power, disregarding the actual needs or abilities. Picture says more than a thousand words, through history the big influence of emblematic posters formed many upcoming events, opinions and ideologies.
In that sense, we could do the analogy with a recent model of propaganda in architecture, where false images, that are the result of an abusive use of digital effects, are projected in order to shape a feeling of fantasy. Illusion and fantasy is where pleasure dances, but they are always contradicting the reality.
Our idea is to show the extreme of influence that propaganda can make to our way of living. When something becomes a trend, because of effective advertisement-picture, and spreads around like disease. Giant pinkish urbanization as new ‘American dream’. Covering structures, was directly inspired by the essential meaning of propaganda and that’s hiding the truth, in this case roots of architecture. The implicit will led by elites to hide diversities of city behind these colorful facades is to create a monochrome surrounding, and take away the spirit of a place. Once full of surprises, cities are slowly turning into pink continuum of minimalistic shapes due to the fashion diktat. Only remarkable buildings and greenery stay untouched, as reminders of what once was a city.
Carried by drones, skin is easy and above all fast to install. Supporting the technical advantages of contemporary era, daylight system is installed within the skin so one can choose weather and time he wants to see from his living room, pointing out the fact that the nowadays’ window became the screen as a main social source. In that wonderful environment freshly reshaped, the only mark of individuality becomes the number printed on the facade.”
Don't forget about the honorable mentions in the gallery below! You can check out those entries in full here.
All images and quoted text courtesy of arch out loud.
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