The Challenge of Building Democracy in Architecture

Updated on January 4, 2022 in Debates, Ideas and Discussion

Building Democracy in Architecture

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

The author is not a CAD expert nor a web genius. Just another guy spending too much time online. The tutorials featured here are meant for basic level understanding.


  1. I agreed totally with what the prof said.
    Todays architecture whereby relationship between architects and clients are becoming very …how do u say it…Blhhhrrrr..architects are becoming prostitues to clients. We have to follow what the client want without any consideration of climate and sustainabity. Maybe in the future all building have to use air conds. Its just like seeing people walking aroun wearing space suits.

  2. Frank Lloyd Wright was a great arichtict with asome ideas way ahead of his time, like Falling water for example, and the lost work of Mr. Wright, such a wonderful and creative Man, truely my Hero,

  3. Yes true. But what does democratic architecture have to do with trying to emulate the past style of architecture. I guess it’s just views of diff architects. But a stronger expression would be such when now we create interactive democratic experiential spaces in those federal buildings! Now that would be a brave move!

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