If politics can be defined as the distribution of resources and the organisation of power relations in societies, then we can assume that political architecture begins with architecture’s role in carrying out political regulations of society and social life. Yet, architecture’s political potential extends to a more a fundamental question regarding architectural sustainability.
Nowadays, the building industry is considered as one of the most detrimental business sectors to global warming and climate change. This sector has rapidly responded to these urgent environmental challenges, and sustainable building technology has not only become a city and company brand as well as a civic responsibility target, but also a profitable commodity. To build sustainably is primarily considered a technological challenge. In order to critically engage with this subject, it is important not to assume established definitions of what sustainability means or what is described as sustainable architecture. We have the tendency to approach sustainability practically (materials, construction etc) and analytically (concepts, academia etc).
However, many cultural and social aspects associated to building performance are too often ignored, resulting in the neglect of the built environment’s effect on cultural habits, social values, human affairs and historical meaning. By considering sustainability with social and political performances , we lessen the risk of designing green ‘non-places’ with no identity and where cities and individuals are no longer connected to each other or nature. Taking this critical approach, in my opinion, does not mean to disregard technological improvement strategies, but instead to consider engineered solutions as a tool amongst many others. It is in these instances that we are likely to be confronted with situations where technological advances impose limits on social or political performance, and where we have to reflect upon and modify methods or solutions that otherwise would not have been questioned.
Architecture possesses a duty to engage and respond to political and social climates. Architecture’s relevance lies in its commitment towards today’s reality while developing authentic grounds for theory, research and reflection. By questioning how a building can be made and more specifically, what it can do to its surrounding elements, we begin to perceive the nuances between architectural and engineering sustainability. The political question is: what does a building facilitate, what does it obstruct, what kinds of actions does it promote, which relationships does it strengthen and which ones are weakened or destroyed. I strive to approach design as a constant questioning of the essence of architecture, following the first precept of Descartes’ Method to « avoid precipitancy and prejudice … as to exclude all grounds of doubt ». I believe that the scale of buildings should no longer be comparable to the problem it is meant to solve, but instead that its size is able to accommodate something that brings an effective solution to a posed problem.
In this mindset, my eagerness to engage with architectural exploration in the context of the Architectural Association is rooted in my aspiration to develop a cohesive expertise consistent with the challenges facing our society. I strongly believe that my dedication to architectural research and contribution to the profession through political commitment is in harmony with the school’s values. These complex and relevant issues require the school’s culturally dynamic environment which enables its students to debate and discuss. The Architectural Association is the apposite choice for my personal aspiration of in giving architecture a legitimate problem beyond itself. I wish to challenge myself by developing my views and actively engage in the future of Architecture.