Democratic Architecture (Not)

The building of the German ministry of foreign affairs in Berlin is not a beauty in itself. But when its annex was built, a lot of bias was put on transparency and openness to the people and the city. This is why it features a lot of open space, atriums, glass etc. The idea behind it is that of a democratic architecture. There is space for interaction, exhibitions, public events,etc.

The Flemish parliament building, completed in 2002, in itself a beautiful example of integration of modern elements into a historic context, features an exhibition hall as integral part of the concept of communicating with the people, with the constituency.

These are only two examples coming to mind because I have seen and visited them on several occasions. While I might have my opinion about what is going on within the buildings, I do find the communicative aspect appealing.

Which is not something I can say about the new building of the Macedonian ministry of foreign affairs in Skopje. It displays nothing open, nothing inviting. It is there, imposing itself on the passer-by, displaying an invented past grandeur wrapped in cheap plaster. If anything, it speaks of the political culture in Macedonia: closed, arrogant and showing its people  fake facades.

It is the missed opportunity of a dialogue, of expressing the wish to form a new identity through openness, inviting the citizens to participate. In terms of style, it very poorly imitates an imperial attitude so alien to Macedonia and to its people that it forms, together with the rest of the “Skopje 2014” complex, an intrusion, albeit a powerful and alas permanent one. But it seems to be a constant of political architecture: small minds always need big columns.


Vision? Pfffffffffffftt…


1 comment
  1. Very good post, excellent point made. I do wish it was a longer, but thats just me (always the person looking for longs reads & 3-4 hour movies:). I hope you write/post more. Cheers!

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