Diplomatic : letter from the architectural enclave
Author(s)Zhang, Jie, M. Arch Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
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Seeing Architecture as a political art, this thesis concerns itself with boundaries: those of regimes, of culture, of law, and of social strata. In a silent crisis where sustained inscription of physical and social boundaries evacuate urban space into archipelagos of enclaves, Architecture with only ambiguous claims of public space is rendered both accomplice and victim, impotent against forces of capital and concerns of security. Exposing the absurdities in urban geopolitics and persistent spatial logics of exclusivity is as important as proposing to hack into them. Critical of the innocence of so-called public space and the underlying architectural impasse, the thesis offers an investigative commentary on the state of urban enclaves, while speculating on alternative strategies by designing an embassy, a bounded pseudo-extraterritory and the epitome of an enclave. Through absurd couplings and blatant image-making, a seemingly open US embassy is proposed for Beijing as an imploded fragment of a boundary, its incompleteness buttressed by territories of privilege and its disparate barriers articulated as a mechanism of filtration. Away from popular strategies of conceptual and spatial blurring, the thesis defines an architectural porosity to orchestrate spaces of varying openness, as a nuanced response to both the embassy's double identities and schizophrenic agendas of city building. With an architecture that is diplomatic by function and diplomatic by disposition, one experiments with an agency beyond the single pursuit of public-ness and an escape from the ideological enclave of positivism. Ultimately, the goal is to suggest and develop a methodology of designing with oppositions, irony and latency.
Thesis: M. Arch., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, 2015.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 147-149).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology