In this age of over emphasis on subjective approaches to forms of knowledge in the design disciplines Alejandro Zaera Polo’s essay is a. Request PDF on ResearchGate | On Jan 1, , Alejandro Zaera-Polo and others published The Politics of the Envelope. A Political Critique of Materialism. Seminal theoretical text to examine: The Politics of the Envelope, Alejandro Zaera-Polo Zeara-Polo’s The Politics of the Envelope is an exposition into the role of.

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By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. Email Address never made public. This site uses cookies. Interestingly Polo finds possible explanations for the proliferation of certain types bubbles and blobs in a mixture of technological, symbolic and security concerns.

Alejandro Zaera Polo: The Politics of the Envelope | The Sleep of Rigour

What Polo makes us aware of is that that choice is not just about architectural effect, construction or tectonics but that we are also determining more difficult conditions and issues.

Notify me of new posts via email. By analyzing the building envelope, we may be able to re-empower the discipline as a truly transformative force in the reorganisation of contemporary power ecologies.

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However, the subjective and experiential dominates contemporary discourse while at the same time denigrating any forms of knowledge that have a hint of objectivity.

This can be contrasted with the other types which have varying degrees of roof exposure, footprint areas or overall surface area. On the other hand the form is adept at allow for flows of people and objects in a flexible and fluid manner which is critical for the functioning of certain program types.

Cubes, spheres, and anything in between all produce the effects and possess the conditions that Polo describes. As an alternative to historical directionality, this experiment wants to propose an analysis of the political dimensionality of space. In many cases we can decide the basic form and if we are informed about the political and social implications of form we can take these decisions more carefully and consciously rather than leaving them up to chance, fashion or the computer.


What is fascinating and important about this essay is that reminds us that form is significant and not something to be ignored or left to chance.

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In reality, he suggests this is actually a response to the way that politics specifically has created a social and theoretical response. Within this frame of reference, he analyzes the four main envelopes of architectural form — flat-horizontal, spherical, flat-vertical, and vertical — while providing examples from contemporary practice. Polo outlines four types — though he is clear in suggesting that these are not the only ones: That is, it is roughly as high as it is wide and long.

Alejandro Zaera Polo – “The Politics of the Envelope” – timothy a collins

As far as envelope technology goes, the difference between the roof and the wall has disappeared, eliminating the cornice line as a necessary articulation; the fenestration is no longer a critical building problem and the corner, a singularity derived from construction geometries and property alignments, is also weakening as the limits between private and public fade and the structure of ground ownership becomes challenged by contemporary urban development instruments.

As architectural discourse this is an over simplification, and a contradiction of his specified references.

Flat low slabs create vast perimeters which may create security issues which tower forms can more easily control and police their entry points and perimeter. There is no such a thing as a unitary theory of the building envelope in the history of architecture.

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Alejandro Zaera Polo – “The Politics of the Envelope”

At politivs time when energy and security concerns have replaced an earlier focus on circulation and flow as the contents of architectural expression, the building envelope becomes a key political subject. The building envelope is possibly the oldest and most primitive architectural element. His point is that by altering cultural forms rather than content — in architecture, the envelope — emancipatory politics can create the conditions of possibility for societal transformation without opposing the logic of the infinitely adaptable free market.

It offers another way of thinking about architecture — or more precisely, it reminds us about forgotten ways of thinking about it — that do not treat the architectural product as merely an outcome of a process, of context or a set of forces. Our hypothesis is that every dimensional type can trigger specific technological, social and political effects. A Political Critique of Materialism.

The Politics of the Envelope – Alejandro Zaera-Polo (Reading Discussion)

Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Agenda Public events Lecture series Past. For example, the flat horizontal slab think airport, mall, warehouse shed, etc. I agree within measure.

Facades and Interiors Peter St John. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your Twitter account.