As political unrest seethed in late Republican Rome, a series of violent acts were perpetrated against well-known buildings, public and private, by the people (the plebs) and their elected representatives, the tribunes. On the rare occasions when scholars mention these events, they tend to treat them as random, isolated acts of vandalism; conspicuously missing is any accounting for them in commentaries on Rome's built environment. In Vandalism and Resistance in Republican Rome, Penelope J. E. Davies assesses these acts against a broad spectrum of political activism over the ages, as well as in the narrower context of contemporaneous politics, when strict, exclusionary norms governed the sponsorship of public architecture. She argues that the destructive acts were, in fact, deliberate, ideologically driven attempts by Rome's less powerful to defy and circumvent the language of power established by the dominant class.
In the sixteenth century, chronic wars and a high concentration of towns made the Low Countries one of Europe's prime laboratories for innovations in military architecture and urbanism. The 1553 inspection tour of the region by engineers Giovanni Maria Olgiati and Sebastian van Noyen marked the assimilation of “Italian-style” fortifications into Netherlandish practice and the transition there from defenses with bastions to proper bastioned systems. Olgiati and Van Noyen's joint tour is well documented through a dozen design drawings now held at the Vatican Library, Turin's Archivio di Stato, and Madrid's Palacio Real, as well as a closely related atlas in Turin and complementary archival records. As Pieter Martens discusses in Planning Bastions: Olgiati and Van Noyen in the Low Countries in 1553, these materials, including many hitherto unknown plans, provide new insights into the design process, offer a unique panorama of the Low Countries’ border defenses at this critical moment, and illuminate the genesis and spread of bastioned fortifications in Europe.
In “Something prety out of very little”: Graniteville Mill Village, 1848, Lisa Goff describes how Charleston entrepreneur William Gregg built Graniteville, South Carolina, to prove the viability of southern manufacturing, which he believed could help avert war between South and North, and to quell planters’ fears that industry would mar the beauty of the South. The village's whitewashed Carpenter Gothic cottages, with matching hotel, school, and church designed by Richard Upjohn, were intended to instill virtues of hard work, clean living, and respect for authority in a white workforce drawn from surrounding farms. Gregg exercised a patriarch's control over his industrial utopia, but the nicknames workers gave the place, and what they told visiting missionaries, show that they experienced Gregg's Gothic hamlet on their own terms. An avid gardener and horticulturist active in the Episcopal Church, Gregg would have been aware of the claims to moral superiority associated with the Gothic Revival style. Goff's analysis of letters, published articles, corporate reports, and advertisements in local newspapers reveals that Gregg's strategies of social contol—adapted from his study of Robert Owen and David Dale—had sinister underpinnings: programmed for hard work at low wages by the “ethical” architecture and orderly “natural” landscape, a white, largely female workforce would insulate the Graniteville Mill from the effects of abolition, should it come.
In mid-nineteenth-century Sweden and Finland, numerous publications promoted the modernization of rural architecture. Many featured guidance for peasant farmers, including instructions for crafting wood carvings for the exteriors of farm buildings. In Modernizing Architecture and Ornament on Mid-Nineteenth-Century Scandinavian Farms, Anna Ripatti argues that such wood carvings and the discourse around them played an important and inherently political role in efforts to modernize not only Scandinavian farm architecture but rural Scandinavia writ large. For reformers, this ornament was a means by which to increase agricultural production, provide decent incomes to the growing numbers of landless rural laborers, and develop the image of a prosperous Scandinavia at a time of widespread rural poverty. Offering a new look at the societal meanings of a common decorative element in nineteenth-century Scandinavian architecture, this article contributes to ongoing discussions about ornament in the history of architecture.
In Negotiating the Hotel Nacional de Cuba: Politics, Profits, and Protest, Erica N. Morawski positions that Havana hotel (McKim, Mead & White, 1930) as a significant symbol and space in the negotiation of national identities under the government of Cuban president Gerardo Machado y Morales. Through analysis of archival materials and architectural design, she shows how the project embodied complex negotiations between the machadato, dedicated to creating the hotel as a national monument, and the U.S. conglomerate charged with financing and building it. Looking beyond the hotel's construction to its role in the Revolution of 1933, Morawski demonstrates how the machadato's efforts to define national identity through the hotel positioned it as a key focus of activists who wanted to define Cuban national identity on their own terms, and who engaged not in negotiation but in armed resistance.