Architecture – The Capitol building is a worldwide symbol for democracy and political stabilization. “The storm of the Trump mop is one of another eyesore of the former President’s reign and US democracy since the civil war. During his reign, Trump undermined the democratic system from within.” Says Benedikt Hartl, founder of the German activistic architecture studio Opposite Office, to Archipanic. The studio provoked with a Capitol Castle proposal inviting to reflect on how we can protect democracy.
Opposite Office remodeled the Capitol and built a dystopian fortress around it. A 1.5-meter wide wall is added to the structure and protects the existing building. The symbolic conversion aims to draw attention to the general problem of democratic systems facing populism, right-wing nationalism and fake news. “How can democracy deal with this?”
Western democracy is dividing more and more. Opposite Office’s dystopia is supposed to shake you awake. “We can no longer look the other way. We have to act politically! Democracy is not a gift, but people had to fight for it. This is still relevant today. Democracy is not for free. We have to care about it and preserve it. We have to fight for our democracy! We have to reverse the division in society and reconcile people. Let’s hope that Joe Biden will succeed and that Donald Trump will be history once and for all.”
Not only the USA, but many countries are struggling for social cohesion. Digitization, globalization, social inequality and social networks are accelerating polarization and division. So how can democracy protect itself from these attacks? “This will not work with high walls and isolation, as the dystopia of the Capitol Castle shows, but also not through moralization and social outcast.”
“Democracy is not a fortress! The only protection of democracy lies in social justice, fair living conditions, fair wages and a real social perspective for everybody!”
Opposite Office is an activist architecture studio that operates worldwide. The studio deals with the architectural interaction of fiction and reality. Opposite Office creates speculative architectural stories that are located in the political and social environment.
“Architecture can be a medium for political and social debate. Capitol Castle should make to think how we can protect our democracy.” Says Benedikt Hartl to Archipanic. “Why do we have to protect it? What is going wrong that people are fighting against democracy? How can we achieve a together than a social division?”
All images by Opposite Office.