Architecture and Power
Years ago, I was doing some consulting for a Mexican company, and they decided to conduct our meeting in Taxco, a little town known for its silver mine.
We were on the terrace of the local Holiday Inn, looking at the city in front of us: lots of small houses and an enormous cathedral in the center of town.
“Look at it,” said my host. “That is our problem. Little houses, big church. Where is the power? Where is the money? You Americans,” he continued, “Did you see Wall Street? Big commercial buildings and a small church in the middle.”
Since that experience, in my travels I started noticing where the big buildings were and who inhabited them.
In developing nations, it is obvious that the church has the best location in the city and is the largest structure. In countries where Kings or Queens still rule, their palaces dominate the scene.
But in developed countries, ignoring palaces of the royalty, the best places in town are government offices and/or shopping malls.
What does it tell you?
To me, it means that they are the institutions with the money and power to choose the prime locations and build the imposing structures. It tells me where the society has advanced today: to a big government bureaucracy and to a consumer economy going wild.
I think the size of the buildings, the prominence of the architect, and the architecture, manifest the power structure of our generation. It all but announces that big government is supplanting royalty, while consumerism has replaced the church and spirituality.
I am not saying this is good or bad. Just noting the IS without making judgments on the WANT and SHOULD.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes