Current Issue

32.3 (2023)

The phrases “state architecture” and “architecture of the state” today might be understood to refer not to buildings at all, but to the formal arrangements of power in sovereign states; the composition of a representative assembly, for example, and the relationship between the judiciary and the executive; the role of the bureaucracy and ministers of state and other such arrangements that define who can legitimately exercise state power. Such a usage implies that the word architecture principally denotes a diagram of functions and responsibilities. This editors’ themed issue of Fabrications is dedicated to a more expansive, but also more concrete and conventional idea of “the architecture of the state.” For the work included here, architecture unquestionably involves the design and use of buildings. Yet, each of the papers in the current issue also coveys a sense that architecture is inexorably involved in delineating relations of power.The papers contained here encompass great geographical and stylistic diversity. We encounter a technical apparatus of colonial expansion wrapped in the decorous formal language of the classical tradition in the Victorian period; prefabricated German buildings in Nauru and other parts of the Pacific in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century; expressions of Belgian identity and materiality at the beginning of the twentieth century in Seoul; tensions between modernity and tradition and the authority of religion and the state respectively in Tehran in the 1930s; functional prescriptions for Australia’s permanent national parliament as planned in the 1970s; and debates about the Englishness of postmodernism in England in the early 1980s. But each paper asks probing questions about meaning and function in architecture and how states depend heavily on both what buildings do and what they can say.

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