Lefebvre the confluence of space and politics, capital

Lefebvre
(1968) argues that there were scarcity of foods but never having the problem of
lacking of space in the past, but the overcrowded more economically developed
countries is especially resolved in the larger towns and cities emerge the lack
of space in the current era. Space is the word that commonly used in the
architecture world, but people normally invalid to realize the different
explanation or deeper understanding of space itself (Massey, 1992). In the
current age, the class struggle is integrated with space more than ever before
(Lefebvre, 1991). The space assigns under class is based on the origin of
unequal development in the character of space and the profusion of space for
the wealthy and too scarcity for the lower class or poor. Besides, spatial language
might be dealing with controversy, compete and productivity because it reflects
to the experience and employ of the space (Elden, 2007). Lefebvre (1991) proposes
space is shaped by element from natural and history through the political process
and it is the ultimate orbit and medium of struggle thus become a crucial political
topic. From all these arguments, it emerges the idea of space as politics or
space can be political.

 

Politics is
normally demonstrated as the existence of power. There are two points of view
about political, the first view is the existence of human relations organized
by power, while the second view is the distinct problematic of negotiating the
powers and values of enduring collective (Brown, 2002). Apart from the sense of
political power, every architectural work can be treated as a symbol of
richness, idealism, power and even the misery of its builders and their contemporaries
(Braunfels, 1998). Vale (2008) also indicates every building award a sense of
legitimacy to the local authorities who build and use it as well as mirror to
the worldview of its builders and users instead of just serving its purpose. The
relationship between power and architecture can be reflected to the relationship
between politics and space. When it comes to the confluence of space and politics,
capital cities capture position of unique implication (Minkenberg, 2014). All
these capital cities, especially those are clearly designed and built to be
capitals, the buildings and public space or square launched by the nation
convey an undeniable political relationship. The Capital cities are defined as
a demand of defending and representing the position of the government and other
national institutions. In addition, buildings, urban design and public space
are fundamental instrument in the constant exploration for justifiability and
self-assurance (Minkenberg, 2014). Capital cities not just design buildings and
spaces to defend the institutions of sovereignty, they do more to display them.
Nationalism declare itself through the built environment and the mechanism of
display with the temptation of sub-nationalism and invented history. For
example, one of the most significant evidence of the temptation of display is the
North-South Axis in Berlin. The idea by Albert Speer is intended the new city of
Germania to be a global allegation of dominance and a signal of being the
greatest to the rest of the world (Helmer, 1985). Apart from this, other governments
have used urban design to inscribe a politics of nationalist display even more
unduly. One of the most well-known evidence in twentieth century was the
greatly designed square of Moscow. When Moscow was reclaimed as the position of
government for the U.S.S.R., the leader of Soviet Union has found a way to
display their power of the government by using the public space, Red Square,
with the walls of Kremlin rising implacably above and behind it (Berton, 1977).
The displays took two forms which are the periodic celebratory parades of military
and flags equipment that moved across the square, and the static tableau of
assembled dignitaries posing for pictures against a backdrop of crenelated
brick, challenging Western pundits to indicate who was the dominant side based
on their position (Minkenberg, 2014). In addition, another famous example is
the Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Following the People’s Revolution of 1949, the
chairman of China, Mao Zedong reconstructed Tiananmen Square itself from a more
humble T shaped palace channel into a broad masonry space which designed to
allow assembling one million party faithful (Hung, 1991). Besides, Chairman Mao
also changed the Forbidden City’s wall into a city-scaled gallery with an
iconic portrait of himself which is even larger than the huge archway
underneath (Minkinberg, 2014). With these typical examples, public space or square
is being used and constructed to demonstrate the power of the government and
this is how public space can be related to politics.

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In public
buildings and urban design, as in all artistic creation, some declarations intimate
that art creation can form political approach, public buildings can stimulate
specific political values and urban design can indicate the nation state
(Minkenberg, 2014). In the case of Washington, DC, the site selection of nation’s
parliament which are undoubtedly complete the standard of democratic
legitimation through political process and also the architecture of the capitol
building itself reflects its centrality. The monumental White House and Congress
are both located on elevations which made them clearly visible from far away
and bringing to mind of the spectacular ancient Rome and its hills, these two
buildings introduce themselves on the landscape as the dominant view on the
site (Scott, 1995). The appearance and the interior of the building mirror the
concept of each chambers having equal power which are the system of a bicameral
legislature. The style of the two chambers are equal and they are arranged
symmetrically. For the interior, the seating arrangements and the chambers are
fairly similar. From the influence of the momentum of the French Revolution, the
seats are designed in a semi-circular shape to fight against the pre-modern
rectangle (Manow, 2008). In addition, the Centre Block in Ottawa, built in
1867, contain two chambers of the parliament which is similar to the Capitol in
Washington, DC. The arrangement of the building is symmetrical and the appearance
of the two chambers is equal. However, the interior of the Centre Block is
designed in a rectangle way with the benches of government and opposition facing
each other (Manow, 2008). Comparing to the design of Capitol, with the idea of
overlapping division of the executive and legislature, little physical space
can be found between the locations of the government office. Apart from the
Capitol in Washington, DC, and the Centre Block in Ottawa, another example is the
Plaza of the Three Powers. The parliament building which is indicated to emphasise
the superiority of the power of legislative over the executive, in effect indicates
the superiority of the bureaucracy over the legislature (Vale, 2008). Besides
that, compare to the monumental Capitol in Washington and Centre Block in Ottawa,
visually, the dominance of the bureaucracy in the Congress of Brazil can be refer
to a more modest or humble symbolization of the nation highest legislature
(Minkenberg, 2014). In addition, the legislative chambers can be easily
distinguish from the outside which is different comparing to the other
parliament buildings, with the Assembly chamber is located under a massive and
equally bowl, while the Senate is placed under the elegant flat dome. For the
interior, the arrangement of the seats placed diversely from the circular or
rectangular order (Minkenberg, 2014).

 

Furthermore,
the Parliament Building in Canberra, designed by American architect Romaldo
Giurgola is a movement of an Australian version of Modernism to the capital
city of Australia, reflects to the Griffin’s original intention which is to be
located below the top of the Camp Hill and make the national monument to be
served as a site (Vale, 2008). The design from Giurgola is located into the
Camp Hill instead of situated on top of the hill which is a very different
intention compare to the Capitol in Washington, DC. This design allow visitors
and citizens to walk on top of the government and legislature, giving them the opportunities
of a clear and broad view of the capital city as well as giving us a sense of
government is under the citizens (Minkenberg, 2014). In addition, the building
itself is crowned by monumental size of steel flagpole instead of other monumentalized
element such as dome. This type of monumentality compare to those that
mentioned before, the 262 feet high building did not consider as a monumental
structure establish on the landscape but the high rising flagpole is believed as
the landmark on the site. This is not only because of the Parliament Building
submerged under the grass and trees, but the massive four legged stainless
steel mast that reflect the skylight (Reid, 2002). The difference between the
Australian Parliament Building and other parliament building in Western capital
city is the Australian Parliament Building is difficult to see from the outside.
Compare to those buildings in Washington, Ottawa and Brazil mentioned before,
there is no possibilities to see the building entirely. The building present
itself to the citizens only the part of the exterior, with the columned and
spacious front and the flagpole on top (Vale, 2008). Looking from the outside,
the two parliament houses are not all clear as they are covered by the slopes
with grass on top. For the interior, the arrangement of the building and the
rooms are based on the bicameral style of the parliament building in Washington,
DC as well as in Ottawa. The Senate chambers and the House of Representative
are located on each flank of the central area which is similar the symmetrical
style of the parliament building in Washington, DC, and Ottawa (Minkenberg,
2014). In addition, the seating arrangement follow the original Westminster
style (Manow, 2008). However, the idea of lifting the circulation of the public
to higher level which separate from the congressman has faced massive criticism
for the building regarding to the asserted betrayal of the democratic principle
of openness and transparency (Vale, 2008).