Architectural Elements as Instruments of Power
Kent State University,
College of Architecture and Environmental Design
Architecture is not neutral. This studio will not debate this fact. Instead, we will interrogate the ways architecture has been used as an agent of power and the architect/designer’s role in reinforcing and upholding society’s biases and injustices through the built environment. Examples include public parks, college campuses, federal detention centers, domestic spaces, and public housing. Discussion topics will range from the definition of power to the relationship of race, gender, and LGBTQ+ to architecture and the built environment.
The final step (Project 05) of the student project, is design development, testing materiality, color, and surface, with an aggregation of architectural elements no longer viewed as neutral objects in space, but as active participants in the use and perception of space by a range of users.
Students have developed a site-specific design proposal for the subtraction/dissection, then addition to a traditional building/symbol of power and governance, the Ohio Statehouse. Each proposal must identify issue(s) of concern, referring to the many references we have researched, acknowledging where our current systems fail some and how that manifests itself in various ways (protest, violence, voting, etc.).
Architecturally, students proposed physical interventions to the Statehouse building and grounds, while developing a social/cultural argument for the intervention.