Jan '06 - Feb '07
An American embassy in Bangladesh.
(Paranoid Spatial Anxiety)
If anyone caught 60 minutes last night, Bangladesh's industry of ship breaking was featured. Don't take me as too cultured because I switched over to Spike since Fight Club was on and missed Andy Rooney.
But back to my thesis rant....
Stemming from my discussion of paranoia and its ramification in architecture, I forced myself to make some decisions in order to start the investigation and get it out of the philosophical realm.
Starting with four terms that have helped me investigate my design ideas and precedents.
Security, Transparency, Paranoia, Anxiety.
The project now is looking at the "image" of security and a lack of security. What makes people feel scared or secure, what does architecture do to change people's perception of the world?
In my past ideas on paranoia, perception was an idea that I did not throw into the mix, but it plays a big part in the explanation of paranoia. It is a PERCEPTION of an evil or harm that is not tangible, unquantifiable.
So what are the perceptional qualities of architecture, specifically in regards to built form.
If discussed in my previous entries I apologize, but the paranoia I have been experiencing came into fruition when I was in Berlin. Looking at the Dutch Embassy by OMA, I was basically allowed to walk around and take pictures all I wanted. I was not able to enter the building.
The American embassy you could not get within a block of it. Walking through Check-Point Charlie was surreal, because that was what our Embassy looked like over there.
In the 50s / 60s, there was a big push to design embassy's to truly reflect our American way of life. Freedom and technological advances back at home played a big part in our "face" abroad. Today although we are using embassies the same way, to reflect our psychology at home. But instead of happy free, our temperature back at home is of fear, terror, and paranoia. 9/11 is not the sole culprit, from interment of Japanese to McCarthy, this has been building for a long time.
We are now slated to build / renovate 120 embassies in the next 10 years under the SED (Standard Embassy Design) developed by the Overseas Building Department and RTKL. These are almost Wal-Mart Embassies. They are design engineered to go up quickly and be cost effective.
This will not help our few abroad. If people feel we are building bunkers in their cities, not only does that make the perception of us that we are super paranoid (which we are) but also disconnected from the world we are inhabiting.
This project will not change the world, and is not made to help the US save face abroad. It is to look at how a huge list of social and architectural ideals can be looked at in architecture form. How their perception changes and how that effects architecture.
Image and perception of security, paranoia, transparency, anxiety.
So I chose to look at the typology of an American embassy in a foreign country, specifically here Bangladesh.
Based at its rich culture, turbulent history both past and present, and its location's proximity to a lot of strife, Dhaka seemed like an interesting place to study.
This is by far not my final answer, an embassy was never my intentions from the beginning of the process. But I hope that it can help me to investigate the ideas I have fascinated with for the past few months.
Still think the Mexican / American wall could be cool......