Written by: Iraj Yamin-Esfandiary

October 22, 2013


Few months ago when I had a presentation for SIAP audience under the name of “Language of Images” in the Q&A section I was asked if architecture could change a society and societal behaviors. Although the immensity of the question that deals with tremendous number of factors of life in a society needs thorough research and inspections my immediate response was that architecture has the potential to making such changes. Since architecture creates and defines space that contains and defines human activities and behaviors. Changing the container would change the content. However in realty such potential is often nullified because architects, the creators of space, are hired and assigned by capital.  Investors, bankers, wealthy people and capitalists who are reluctant to accept changes and new ideas of life finance buildings that contain space and dictate their wills. They are conservatives by nature and protectors of status quo since any volatility endangers the security of their capital that generates them profits. People of that ilk are very influential to ruling societies since they have the power to manipulate governments. But paradoxically architecture has its own independent way of expression of creativity that is the root of change. If an architect who is aware of the zeitgeist of her/his time bypass the capitalist may get along with the capital. 


Zaha Hadid is an example of such. She studied and followed constructivists that had an eye for changing the world by applying art and architecture to encourage communal relations and behaviors. Her recent work is commissioned to glorify a dictator who rubbed the wealth of a nation and his follower, his son, is continuing the same path of exploiting people. However by applying innovative free forms and the most advance construction materials she created spaces that undeniably deny dictatorship and encourage freedom.