Essay about Architecture and Insecurity

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Architecture and Insecurity An Analysis of Architecture as Metapho in WG Sebald’s Austerlitz

Deyan Sudjic, journalist for the New York Times, writes in his discussion of the potential Freedom Tower meant to replace the cavernous holes that mark where the twin towers once stood:

Clearly, there is a psychological parallel between making a mark on the landscape and the exercise of political power…both depend on the imposition of will…and among the dictatorial…there is an inherent appeal in seeing one’s worldview confirmed by reducing entire cities to the scale of a doll’s house (par. 6).

Symbolism and architecture often go hand in hand. Like almost every work of art, critics and audiences attempt to read something deeper, to find
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In actuality, as revealed through viewpoint of the character Austerlitz, the 19th century encapsulated “the architectural style of the capitalist era…the compulsive sense of order and the tendency towards monumentalism evident in law courts and penal institutions, railway stations and stock exchanges, opera houses and lunatic asylums, and the dwelling build to rectangular grid patterns for the labor force” (33). The Palace of Justice in Brussels presents a perfect example of Imperialist Architecture.

Built in the 1880s at the insistence of Brussels bourgeoisie, the Palace of Justice is the “largest accumulation of stone blocks anywhere in Europe” (29). Complete with hallways that lead nowhere, staircases that fall apart at the touch, and rooms that cannot be entered (quite literally, there are no doors—rooms without entry points are on blueprints and are simply walled-off during construction), the Palace symbolically represents the complicated nonsense of the imperial Europe. At a time when the major powers of Europe were competing with one another for colonies, raw materials for their newly industrialized factories, and subjects from which to collect taxes, buildings like the Palace of Justice sprung up everywhere in an attempt to impress and terrify. Rosalyn Deutsche notes that “architecture that adheres
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