“The Edifice Complex” by Deyan Sudjic

In chapter 1 of Deyan Sudjic’s “The Edifice Complex”, he discusses the reason why people build, what drives people to build, and how people use use architecture to shape the way we view the world. Sudjic uses Saddam Hussein as his prime example to demonstrate his points. Saddam Hussein is a good example because he was a former leader of Iraq. Typically, the people who are in power with wealth are the ones to make decisions regarding architecture and what buildings are to be made. Hussein’s reasons for building a large mosque was driven by ego, intimidation, and to create an image for himself. By building a large mosque, it was to create the image that Hussein was a devout believer of his faith, it was used as a form of intimidation to other countries after they had just lost a war, and it was to feed his ego, where the specific measurement increments of the mosque all had some connection to his birthday.

After reading Sudjic’s discussion, it gave me a new perspective on architecture and what it means. It made me realize that the architecture that I see everyday aren’t just some building that somebody decided to build one day. There is a much deeper meaning behind the reason why the architect gave the building its specific features, and what drove them. It’s also the work of people of the past that shaped the role of architecture in modern society. Like Saddam Hussein, many other leaders in the past have used architecture as a means of shaping their image, feeding their ego, and for political reasons. What these past leaders realized was that architecture is also synonymous for power, which is why this trend is still going on in modern society. For this reason as Sudjic says, “There may be no fixed political meaning to a given architectural language, but that does not mean that architecture lacks the potential to assume a political aspect.” Popular buildings that we see today might of been made to be “neutral” with no political meaning, but there are definitely hidden political aspects to it. For example, the Empire State Building in New York City might just seem like a beautiful tall building that is a great tourist attraction. But by taking a deeper look at it, it is seen that the building symbolizes the power and wealth of New York City. It is the 45th tallest building in the world, it is a famous building featured in movies, and it is a worldwide icon that people look at and think of New York City’s wealth.

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