Designing Capitals, Forming Nations: Narrations and Architectural Manifestations
Lecture as part of the BAA 11th International Summer Academy / Free admission / Please register at firstname.lastname@example.org
Capital Cities are not only places of political power, but also have to be considered as symbolic landscapes of constructing and representing the political, cultural, and social identity of a state and nation. Building politics – developing an urban fabric with its hierarchic structures as well as designing national institutions and their iconographic programs – reveal political ambitions to enforce a specific concept of nation and its national narration. A state’s self-conception in relation to its history, cultural traditions, and political values is often translated into architectural form, style, and iconography. The communicative quality of national buildings and monuments hereby aims on the one hand at the own people by offering a normative reading of identity and by establishing the symbolic cityscape as a collective platform for identification. On the other hand, capitals’ architectural representations and interpretations are also intended to position the state in international networks.
The presentation follows a comparative perspective to explore various strategies of representing state and nation in urban planning, architecture, and heritage preservation. While capital planning in early republican state capitals can be explored by case studies for Washington and Bern, the politics of reconnecting to history or to counteract to history can be traced by Israel and West-/East-Germany. All examples will demonstrate that capital cities play an important role in the formation of states and their national conceptions.
Anna Minta is Professor for History and Theory of Architecture at the Catholic Private University Linz, Austria. She has studied art history, modern history and communication studies in Berlin. She received her Ph.D. from Kiel University, Germany, in 2003, analyzing architecture, urban planning and preservation politics in Israel after the foundation of the state in 1948. Her habilitation (second book, 2013) at Bern University, Switzerland, discusses contested historicisms in Washington’s architecture and identity debates. Her recent research focusses on campus architecture in a global perspective and spatial and social concepts of community in public buildings. She has published extensively on the history of architecture in Europe, Israel/Palestine and the USA, analyzing the appropriation of architecture in identity constructions and discourses of power.