Architecture And Democratic Experience Democracy Cultural Studies Essay

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As an Iranian national, I believe that true Democracy has never been served to the Iranian people; neither by the Shah's regime (Monarchy) nor by the present government (Islamic republic). I have witnessed dictatorship first hand for majority of my life, and this experience has given me better sense and understanding of democracy. Democracy is one of the most challenging forms of governing, both for the politicians and the citizens. democracy is derived from Greek language meaning "rule by the people " The initiation procedure for the new form of democracy that is currently known in the world started during 17/18th century. By democracy it should become possible for the weak and most oppressed to have an effective voice and promotes ideas such as equality, separation of church and state and etc. Modern democracy is defined as everybody having the same effect in decisions made for the society. By democracy in the present context, one means removing the cobwebs of feudalism from the mindset.

In seventh century BC, the emergence of urban life caused the rural areas to weaken. In the course of trade, the industry grew and the aristocracy were involved. The result of these transformations is evident in Arts. As the art of this period is not in favour of tradition, it was absent through the limited eyes of commoners mentality. With the extensive sculpturing and monumental architecture - palaces and magnificent temples were built. Despite these developments in art, theories are still favourable, and indicate aristocracy. Since aristocracy it still has the authority to monitor the state of devices.D:\phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpg.jpeg

Figure In Greece, after 600 BC on, the position of the aristocracy in terms of economy and politics are gradually shaken by the merchants, and are eventually disarmed from economic leadership. Unlike the aristocratic land owners, speculators had a desire for individual authenticity; and with their economical, social, and individual achievements, replaced a collective culture with an individualist culture. The growth and dominance of this crowd in the cultural and artistic areas let the artists to nourish and express their feelings, and therefore establish the method of individualism.

The Classical Period of Greece (500 BC) was a significant time period in the history of civilization. It was the golden age, in which was an explosion of ideas, knowledge, art, and creativity. It was a time of scientific, mathematical, architectural and artistic brilliance. Democracy flourished in Greece, and the restrictions that were imposed on individual freedom were diminished, and the inherited traditions were fading. As the result of these changes, the second half of the century came with a spread of liberalism that revolutionized philosophy; that was a reflection of social conditions. To conclude these adjustments, art and society was ruled by democracy. Towards the end of this century, the desire for the nature of humanity, emotional and individuality grows; and illusionism in art and mentality of this period is indicative of economic liberalism and democracy. The people of this era, believed human beings to be the solution to everything, and were grateful and relied on themselves, rather than their ancestors.

My experience of spatial democracy

Figure Hossein Amanat,The Architect Front of Shahyad TowerTo explain my experience of spatial democracy I can give an example of a famous landmark in Tehran "Azadi Tower" (Freedom Tower). This tower was built in 1971 in commemoration of the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire. This Gateway into the capital was named "Shahyad Tower" meaning "Kings' Memorial". . It was named Azadi after the Iranian revolution which happened in 1979. It means freedom in Farsi, the country's language. It was originally set to remind coming generations of modern Iran's success under the Pahlavi dynasty it has become a sign of country's stability since.

Azadi tower is 50 meters (148ft) tall and completely clad in cut marble. Why was it dubbed Azadi (Freedom) after the Iranian Revolution of 1979?

"We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us." In case of Azadi tower this quote by Winston Churchill is spot on. During the Iranian revolution in1979, people gathered under Azadi tower to protest against the king's regime, which lead to the revolution. In 2009 when people came to the streets to demonstrate against the Islamic regime, Azadi tower was the focal point of these demonstrations. The same public place powered democracy after 30 years. Same as Egyptian people demanding authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak in Tahrir-Square in Arab spring. Why do people love the Azadi square and Tower? Wings of the tower gives people the feeling of embrace and protection; it is like a father holding people in embrace, the architectural form of this space can explain concept of democracy translated into space which people experienced every day through their life. Shape of this square and monument can rewrite the rules of engagement with the public, and the form communicates a dialogue with people and they refer to it as a symbol of the country. This is how democratic Architecture can get involved with people and the history of country.

Figure 3 iranian revelution in 1979 and 2009 front of Shahyad Tower

Democracy and Space

Figure When an architect designs a public space, there are several generic spatial principles that need to be considered. These principles include the use of space for work and play; the way in which the building sits and compliments the landscape; open or closed architectural system that uses the characteristics of glass and brick to symbolise freedom and space and the optimum purpose of the built space. There are certain limitations that the architect has to operate in including the availability of proper site. The architect has to accept what is given as, for public spaces, the site is selected after series of debate on the political outcome and other non-architectural advantages. Other spatial requirements that architects need to observe or leave are things such as internal and external embellishments. Through the previous centuries, public spaces had to be completed with gothic designs of swirls that tower spires and thick walls which would repulse the actions of enemies.

A gathering of architects and urban designers at the Art Worker's Guild in Queen Square in London as guests and members of the International Network for Traditional Building Architecture and Urbanism (INTBAU) and the Traditional Architecture Group (TAG) a linked society of RIBA to discuss the future of architecture and urban design. Following presentations from chapters of INTBAU and others from 12 different countries, the group discussed the issues, problems and opportunities facing architects and urban designers these days. The meeting concluded with the drafting of six progressive principles,that should be adopted by all architects and urban designers to maintain a creative diversity, serve communities and advance the quality of life.

Architecture and urban design serve the public. The views of the public should be respected and expert opinion should be moderated by democratic principles. Diversity in architecture and urban design should be encouraged and made freely available for informed public choice.

Architecture and urban design are liberal disciplines. In a liberal discipline different ideologies and principles will coexist and be practised and debated without obstruction or constraint. While adherents of differing ideologies and principles will support their views with passion and vigour, progress will always depend on mutual respect and freedom of practice and expression.

Architectural and urban design education trains professionals who will serve the public. Education should always be a liberal discipline. Students should be given a full breadth of history, knowledge and practice in all building, architectural and urban design types and principles. Education in architecture and urban design should provide positive support for the pursuit of different design philosophies without obstruction or constraint.

Identity is fundamental to human society. Identity of place is a key component in the make-up of individual and community identity. Global uniformity is threatening the distinctive identity of local places. Architecture and urban design should support and promote the identity of place for local communities. Newbuildings and places should be understood by communities as a contribution to their understanding of the identity of their place.

The efficient use of energy, raw materials and water are major challenges for the future of mankind. All avenues of research and understanding should be investigated to this end. These will include scientific, economic and social studies.

understanding of the techniques, practices and living patterns of periods before energy became easily available can make a significant contribution to the advancement of energy conservation today.

Growing population, changing lifestyles and an increasing consumption of energy have created major pressures on towns and cities. Urban life encompasses health, living conditions, employment, movement, social interaction and recreation as well as the design of buildings and places. Architecture and urban design should take into account all aspects of urban life to create durable places that can be enjoyed by all sectors of society now and for the future.

INTBAU UK Ltd (2012) Queen Square Statement INTBAU & Traditional Architecture Group. [Internet]. Available

<>[Accessed 14 March 2012]

Comparative Analysis

Around 19th century major structures like the Parliament of Great Britain had to withstand attacks from rebels. So buildings were designed large and forbidding. After the Second World War buildings became more welcoming and open. Architects started designing everyday objects such as furniture, cars and etc. At this time there was an attempt to remove the line that separated artists from craftsman. This resulted in a fresh set of design elements.

Figure 5- These sketches by Richard Rogers illustrate the roof funnels and other energy-efficient designs at the Senedd, home of the National Assembly for Wales.. In this part, the designs of National assembly of Wales and the Scottish parliament will be compared to find out which building characterises the effects of democracy more.

The national assembly for Wales was designed after a lengthy effort for independence. Cardiff was known as a backwards place with no innovation in the designs. Building the National assembly gave the spark to rebuild the city and restore the image for city.

The major design concepts of the building are transparency and openness. Right in the middle of the building is the debating chamber. The debating chamber has a profound location with a large funnel that goes all the way up to the roof of the structure (Figure 5). The base of the roof is made of red cedar with narrow steel columns.

Figure 6- The Senedd of National assembly of Wales

Figure 7-The senedd of Scottish ParliamentThe Scottish Parliament looks very different from National assembly of Wales. The structure was designed to show the Scottish pride as a nation with rich history. The debating chamber has an elliptical shape with lots of natural light coming inside. The light is supplied from few sources. The debating chamber gives the feeling of openness while keeping you private. In this structure you will see lots of angles and lots of curves coming together to make a beautiful giant structure that represents the Scottish skill in constructing huge structures with very high detail trough out the history such as Forth bridge, Edinburgh castle (and many other castles) and St. Giles Cathedral.

Figure 8- Scottish Parliament

To compare the two designs, the national assembly of Wales is about openness and transparency. The structure has a tidy and luxurious feel to it, and this implies openness and freedom of speech. The way this structure is designed and built you will feel that Wales is new to the modern democracy and the national assembly of Wales is the starting point to show that. The Scottish parliament has more character of its own and promotes openness and the freedom to speak your opinion. The budget for the Scottish parliament was around 430 million GBP; this is when the national assembly of Wales had a budget of about 80 million GBP.


a landmark can tell a story about the people of that nation, from the political openness of the government to the skills of the people throughout the history. The Azadi tower in Iran has given the people enough courage to demonstrate and show their request all the way through the years. The Scottish parliament shows that the Scottish people see themselves as a separate race. The parliament shows that people in this country have character and they take pride in it. And the National assembly of Wales showed that Wales wanted a good new start to rebuild its country with what people want and that Wales is heading for a glorious future.