The Challenge of Building Democracy in ArchitectureUpdated: February 4, 2014
Frank Lloyd Wright was jailed for a day because of his comment on the federal building. I couldn’t agree more on what Frank Lloyd Wright said, no government building should emulate any past civilization and their architecture, federal buildings should make no specific ethnic reference.
Democratic architecture is the keyword. Putrajaya in Malaysia is a good example of undemocratic architecture in a democratic country.
The architectural language used in Putrajaya is very “imperial” as opposed to the “business as usual” architecture of the Parliament building. In his writings and speeches, renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) always criticised “palatial” architecture (as exemplified by the federal buildings in Washington DC). He was, in fact, imprisoned for a day when he refused to retract his cutting comments.
Wright felt that by emulating the architecture of aristocratic or autocratic regimes of the past, Washington’s architects did not attempt to portray the new ideals of democracy, which lays the reins of governance in the people’s hands. Wright’s architecture always chose asymmetrical massing over symmetry, the use of the horizontal expression as a symbol of humility to the “Earth as the Nurturer”, and the celebration of local materials as economic products of weathered quality. Article by Prof.Dr Mohammad Tajuddin