This book has a special meaning for me, it is the first book I have finished reading since I became and architects. I must confess that it has been a while since the last new book I finished. I sometimes enjoy reading again some old books, but this one is the first one on the list! Also, Ethel Baraona (dpr-barcelona), co-founder of the editorial that was publishing it, gave it to me when we met a couple months ago, and it still wasn’t available. However, the book can now be purchased in specialized libraries and on Amazon:
This being said, this book has been written by Léopold Lambert, a writer, editor, project manager and architect, the busiest man on earth! He founded his blog, The Funambulist, which is complemented with Archipielago, his online podcast platform. With these platforms he studies and points out to the world the weaponization of architecture in today’s world, specially in conflict places such as the alarming situation in Gaza.
And this is what this book talks about. From an architectural point of view, mixed up with economics, sociology and military tactics, it debates about the influence of architecture in a war. The book is very well organized, having 3 main parts: Introduction to weaponization of architecture (ARCHITECTURE AS A WEAPON), then a specific research of the ongoing situation in Israel and Palestine (ISTALI COLONIAL APPARATUSES) and finally ends with a proposal, which he admits not to be a solution, but a possibility of resistance for those dominated, the Palestinians.
Also, the book, as most of the projects of dpr-barcelona publishers projects include, also researches with new technologies, implemented augmented reality in it’s book. And there is something funny about new possibilities that I think we must all go through. At the beginning of something we must learn how to use it, we do not have criteria for what it must be used or if there is another way of showing it. And since this is a new technologies not yet very used in books, you sometimes encounter that the A.R. could have been saved. Despite these, I must confess I was thrilled to have in my hands a book this modern. Books must start changing fast if they want to survive to today’s digital world.
Finally, there is a notion of MONUMENTALITY in the project proposed by Léopold Lambert in the end of the thesis that is not mentioned at any point. We are used to relate MONUMENTALITY to size (in fact this is why I always write the word in CAP letters). However, Léopold has been able to create a distant monument for a oppressed civilization with very little material and even less modification of our visual perception of the space he has design the project in. A camouflaged project that serves both farmers and nomads as an agricultural platform and a caravansary. The project speaks two languages, a solid and heavy one excavated underground and a light and modifiable textile Bedouin top. Earth and Sky.
The notion of MONUMENTALITY is achieved by the impossibility of Israel’s Caterpillar D9 bulldozer of destroying the Qasr. And therefore it becomes and distinguishable victory seen from the new tall building being constructed within the Palestine’s city limits.“…each Palestinian building’s ruin is a symbol of the Israel oppression, but more importantly a physical mark of existence of the Palestinian people. In an asymmetric conflict, this existence has definitely resistive values and this Qasr stands as a celebration of this resistance, a sort of glorious ruin that unexpectivally end up victorious from an uneven combat.”
Léopold Lambert, “Weaponized Architecture, the impossible of innocence”. dpr-barcelona, NYC 2012. p.159
*all images were taken from The Funambulist website*