Wednesday, October 26, 2011

massive, judicial, obsolete

At the lecture last night Alexander D'Hooghe brought up this building, which is the Palace of Justice in Brussels. In my search for spaces of diplomacy I had referred to the international courts at the Hague, and it was suggested that they might be spaces of diplomacy only due to their use. The reason why the palace of justice came up during the lecture, which is a law court only for Brussels by the way- not an international court, is because it is so outdated that they need a new one. At first glance this looks like any palace in Europe, but on closer inspection, it's actually a jumble of every monumental style that the architect could find. It's also massive, larger than St. Peter's in Rome, with soaring staircases and marble statues, etc...it was the biggest building constructed in the 19th century. Ironically, this great building meant to symbolize justice was built on a site that had been home to hundreds who were forced to move by the government. If one thinks about how buildings mean, this one "means" less about justice than it does about complete governmental control...though maybe in 19th century Belguim that was the extent of justice.

As a space of diplomacy, I wanted to include it because it exhibits such a clear connection between the form of the building and the power it implied. This will be true even in the future, after it is used as something else. This is much different than the International Criminal Court in the Hauge- which has power only due to its current use, otherwise it looks just like every other glass office building (shown below).

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