‘Art in capital’: Shaping distinctiveness in a culture-led urban regeneration project in Red Town, Shanghai


Culture permeates even the most imposing industrial building. Driven by global city making, city leaders see culture as a key to bolstering a new economy and to dealing with decayed urban sites. However, regional practices of creating creative strategies differ, as actors are not “dancing puppets” but actively pursue their vested interests. The Red Town project in Shanghai is one example that represents the shift from sporadic artistic action to organized construction and management of spaces for the creative industry. This paper probes the development process of Red Town in order to uncover the power relationships of a variety of actors in the urban regime. The pursuit of distinctiveness through selectively authentic conservation and branding of artists’ offbeat taste, in return, offers benefits to several key players involved, such as developers and government agents. However, when the link between artists and archaic industrial buildings is legitimized, the resulting space becomes commercialized and, to an extent, discriminatory. In this case, the architectural edifice celebrates economic growth, while at the same time, it spurs the rise of unexpected social consequences.



“Art in capital” is a small art gallery in Red Town,1 which is depicted as a creative community formed after the renovation of an abandoned steel factory. Old bricks and mortar are preserved, as well as all other marks of age like rusted nails and non-functional electric wires. The new environment, with its air-conditioning system made in Germany and its heating system made in France, now guarantee a 4A class interior space as evaluated in the office market. In this creative community, sculptures are displayed at communal areas, through which the so-called creative professionals rub elbows a stone’s throw away from their respective offices.

It did not take long for Shanghai, one of China’s economic powerhouses, to embrace cultural consumption. The city is filled with passion for art of all types and descriptions, evident in consumers undeterred by the rocketing prices of art works in recent auctions.2 Art consumption has undoubtedly become a trendy way for many Shanghaiese to assert their distinct taste and identity. However, many art critics worry that this craze for art has allowed consumerism to dominate market behavior and to further lure art supplies.3The same concern pervades the rehabilitation of archaic industrial buildings for the consumption of artistically produced space. The story starts when a cultural group (artists, architects, etc.) moves to usually abandoned and dilapidated industrial plants in the inner city, converting these into workshops and studios. After rehabilitation, these warehouses and production plants magically convert decayed urban area to magnets, which attract artists to move in, one after another, and they also became popular destinations for visitors, many of whom are young adults attracted by that kind of life ‘on the edge.’ The magic effect of the chemistry between artists and deteriorated industrial sites has triggered the interest of many others, including the Shanghai Municipal Government, which was searching for means to push forward economic restructuring under a condition of land shortage in the city. The combination of artists and non-functional industrial sites gave the government a lot of inspiration. At that time, creative industry—the new favorite of many entrepreneurial governments after Florida’s promotion (Florida, 2000)—caught the attention of Shanghai officials who immediately opened their aims to embrace the new economy. Conservationists endeavoring to conserve industrial heritage through rehabilitation gave the action of reuse another fancy cloth of heritage conservation. Packaged in one, the Creative Industrial Agglomeration Area was introduced to encourage the development of creative industrial zones based on recycling of decayed factories in the inner city (Li et al., 2001SHMG, 2001). This lucrative market attracts a different breed of actors, such as real estate developers, government agents, or a coalition of the two. Soon, the piecemeal action was pushed into a city-wide movement. At the end of 2008, 76 sites had been labeled as Creative Industrial Agglomeration Areas (SCIC, 2008). The development at a scale previously unseen caught the attention of the central government, which launched a publicity campaign stressing that urban development occurs “when the creative industry dances with industrial heritage,” and calls for “learning from Shanghai” through its core newspaper (Lou, 2006).

The project in Red Town is one typical case that represents the turning from the first stage to the second stage, namely, from artists’ sporadic activities to organized construction and management of office space for creative industry. The outputs reflect negotiations among different actors who actively participate in this process for invested interests. Since Red Town, other projects desperately resort to heritage conservation to promise a unique experience, through a conscious and deliberate manipulation of history. Priority was given to the cautious preservation of aged buildings’ fabrics, particularly their erosion and decay, often in the name of authentic conservation.

At its planning stage, Red Town was publicized as an attempt to encourage the development of art and culture, as well as to set up a model of rehabilitation of industrial heritage. As the project processed, however, pressure was exerted for economic benefit that is measured in revenues. This paper attempts to probe into the development process of Red Town and to uncover the links to power relationships of a variety of actors in the urban regimes. I argue that Red Town is a project that prioritized the authenticity of heritage conservation, a space made vibrant by culture, seemingly detached from mundane living, and tailored for artists’ use. In reality, however, authentic heritage conservation was applied only to a select portion, specifically the building’s fabric. Meanwhile, the spatial features of industrial legacies, which might best represent the ethos of muscular industrialization, were crudely altered to maximize up-market office stocks.

Data are obtained from interviews and site-visits within a span of 2 years, as well as government documents, magazines published by the Red Town Company, newspaper articles, and reports. During the past 2 years, we have interviewed 22 individuals, including officials from different departments, developers, conservationists, artists and tenants in Red Town. After a literature review, the spontaneous stage is described to introduce how the idea of combining industrial heritage and creative industry emerges, and then the following section focuses on the renovation and management of Red Town, while discursive remarks are made at the end.

Debates: creative class, social divide, and power relationship in the urban regime

The concept of “creative class” was introduced by Florida (2000), who specifies them to be imperative group for cities and regions that expect to succeed in this economy increasingly driven by creativity. In its core, Florida’s thesis is to establish an environment that is attractive to the new ‘creative class.’ The idea has gained prominence among many entrepreneurial mayors who attempt to accelerate economic growth and project their cities to a higher tier in the global city hierarchy.

Culture-led urban regeneration is one kind of means deployed by many locales in their practices to develop a new economy and also to deal with decayed urban areas (Evans, 2003Evans, 2005). One strand of studies promotes that establishment of unique hybrid identity through cultural and heritage boosts distinctiveness and then advancement along the ladder of economy and power. Recalling the word “to imagineer” coined by the Walt Disney Studio to describe its way of “combining imagination with engineering to create the reality of dreams,” the thesis of urban imagineering is introduced at its core as a political act turning to the question of what and how to build at the local level in a more strategic manner than does Disney (Paul, 2004Paul, 2005).

Others argue that the promotion of a particular set of values through themed built environment and spectacles reflects the social divide and unequal relationships (Atkinson and Easthope, 2009). The aestheticization of archaic buildings in the picturesque style of heritage conservation is often claimed to be a new type of space tailored for a cultural community. The conscious manipulation of image for a given place may respond to the large-scale social transformation from a Fordist to a Post-Fordist society, namely, the birth of the new middle class which seeks out the stylization and aestheticization of life (Paul, 2004). Meanwhile, neglecting the uncreative class is sanitized and social inequity is legitimized. As Bourdieu points out, “art and culture consumption are predisposed, consciously and deliberately or not, to fulfill a social function of legitimating social differences” (Bourdieu and Johnson, 1993, p. 2).

Researchers in the conservation field are more concerned with the commodification and exploitation of culture and history, frequently conducted in a distorted manner for maximum economic benefits in name of authenticity. As a response to the resorting to heritage and tradition, Alsayyad (2001) approaches the problem from a perspective of a conscious and deliberate manipulation of culture, wherein the built environment is designed to promise a unique cultural experience. Many culture-led urban regeneration projects might merely “begin with poetry and end[s] with real estate” (Klunzman, 2004; cited by Evans, 2005, p. 959). Disney was not the “first to pioneer the idea of replicating places of the ‘other’ for people to experience.” However, it “was the first to recognize the permanent, continuing commercial potential of such installation” (Alsayyad, 2001, p. 9).

The “city of renewal” era reinforced the widespread use of cultural symbols in urban regeneration (Amin and Thrift, 2002Appadurai, 1990Beauregard, 1995Evans, 2003Hall and Robertson, 2001Zukin et al., 1998). However, regional practices of the creative strategy differ (Atkinson and Easthope, 2009Vanolo, 2008). This transformational movement has been the subject of various research works, more so in the aspect of the political-economic realm. Beauregard and Haila comment that, actors are not “simply puppets dancing to the tune of socioeconomic and political logics but rather relatively autonomous agents” (Beauregard and Haila, 1997, p. 328). Cities are governed by regimes, as put by Stone (1989). An internal coalition of socioeconomic forces pulls the strings in the urban regime. These influential actors with direct access to institutional resources hold a significant impact on urban policymaking and management, and this often results in the urban landscape’s contingent spatial transformation. The spatial outcomes of development and policy spawn continuing social and material consequences infused with the coalition’s vested interests. The powers among different agents within a governing regime vary. In this light, the transformation of urban landscapes needs to be explored from the internal structure of socioeconomic actors and their negotiations in the process.

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The regenerative approach to model an integrated urban-building evaluation method


In this paper we focus on crucial issues concerning the effectiveness of evaluation of sustainability in the built environment. The paper argues that we need to rethink the evaluation of urban-building sustainability from an integrative perspective. It advances a theoretical and methodological model based on the regenerative approach, which opens up a new way to deal with the sustainability of the built environment. An enlarged definition of urban metabolism is used to carry out the integrated evaluation.

Central in it is the concept of reliability, which expresses the ability of products and processes in the built environment to be adaptive, resilient and regenerative. We use reliability in a transversal manner through the process of making the built environment sustainable, referring it both to buildings and the regenerative process triggered by sustainable actions addressed to buildings. Holistic indicators allow assessing it quantitatively or qualitatively.

Through reliability we bring regenerative thinking from a theoretical to an operational level. When referred to buildings, reliability allows considering sustainable performances not usually assessed in current evaluations. When referred to processes, it helps to understand directions of change in relation to sustainability of the built environment. Our method can be easily associated to current evaluation systems exceeding their boundaries.

1. Introduction

During last centuries, the increase in knowledge and the associated technological advancements have determined an evolution of human societies superimposed on nature, with the results of jeopardizing natural systems. Becoming aware of natural resource depletion and environmental pollution is at the basis of the need to draw attention to a sustainable development, as defined in the Bruntland Report (WCED, 1987). This is considered a starting point of a major concern for the natural environment, which has to be interrelated with social and economic development, inter and intra generationally. Then, in recent years, the sustainability paradigm has been the leading guide for development at any scale of thought and action, pervading policies as well as practices of intervention in any field of application (Hecht et al., 2012).

The built environment is the most significant field of action for several reasons, both quantitative and qualitative: it uses natural resources and impacts the natural environment in a very relevant manner; it constitutes the socio-cultural identity of a place; it expresses the economic capacity of a society. Therefore the built environment has increasingly become the test bed of policies and practices of sustainability, the terrain for experimenting sustainable paths of governance and design so that buildings and cities have been focused subjects of interest and experimentation (Lewis et al., 2013) and sustainable buildings and cities the output of such commitment.

Now, after more than 25 years of investments in sustainability, the question is whether sustainable development is indeed sustainable (Blowers et al., 2012). The answer is arguable: it could be almost positive, if we refer to sustainability as the paradigm originating from the sustainable development definition above cited; it could be rather negative if we refer to sustainability as the ability to re-establish cooperation between the natural and the human worlds for a mutual beneficial development. The central difference resides in the approach used, which at the end defines a substantially different goal: in the first case, the sustainable development approach is aimed at reducing the natural resource depletion and the environmental impacts; in the second case, the approach is regenerative, i.e. aimed at reversing the present and persistent trend of consumption for regenerating the natural environment, indispensable for the human life (Cole, 2012a).

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Artists and Spatial Practice

As architects have expanded their practice beyond the built object and artists have moved out of the gallery, so the already blurred boundaries between the two disciplines, have become still more entwined within the realm of critical spatial practice. To engage with the terms of spatial agency, artistic practice must show some form of transformative potential. Although there are a large number of artists working with spatial relations, those included here influence the actual production of space or change spatial relations in some way.

Michael Rakowitz is a case in point, trained as an architect, his work straddles the divide between art and architecture. Based in New York, his most memorable project is paraSITE (1998), at once a critique and a making visible of the prevalent attitudes towards homelessness, whilst at the same time improving the material living conditions of those living on the streets. Rakowitz designed a series of inflatable shelters that plug into the vent outlets of buildings, creating a warm and dry space for their inhabitants. Custom designed for each individual their oddness in the street scape gives visibility to the homeless. In an interview, Rakowitz relates that the initial shelter was made from black plastic in the hope of providing privacy and darkness to sleep in, but upon consulting his clients, he realised that what was most important to them was to be able to see out in case of attack and a desire to be seen and acknowledged. The shelters not only comment on the situation of the homeless, but also the large amounts of energy wasted in buildings.

Marjetica Potrč's work also blurs the boundaries between art, architecture and urbanism working in diverse locations, from the informal settlements of Caracas, to the trailer parks of Florida, or in the West Bank. Trained as both an architect and an artist Potrč's work is situated in these locations but is also displayed in galleries. Moving away from the problem solving approach of architecture Potrč tries to learn from each context through observation, developing an understanding of the micro-processes involved in order to inform the eventual interventions. For example in the La Vega barrio of Caracas, Potrč worked with architect, Liyat Esakov, as part of the Caracas Case project to design a dry toilet that responded to the lack of water. Designed in consultation with residents, rather than providing a one-off solution, the toilet can be easily replicated. In another project based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, a small solar powered desalination device was installed in a school, in a context where solar energy is abundant but its use is virtually non-existent. As in the work of Rakowitz, Potrč's projects simultaneously reveal uneven living conditions whilst also working to alleviate them.

The artist, Thomas Hirschhorn's sculptural installations are participatory and collaborative in nature and fit within an artistic tradition including the Anarchitecture Group and Robert Smithson. Taking sculpture in its broadest sense as the manipulation of spatial conditions, Hirschhorn critiques architectural production through approximating and mimicking architectural structures. The project Bataille Monument (2002), named after the Surrealist writer, was located in a mainly Turkish neighbourhood of Kassel, Germany, as part of the Documenta art festival. The intervention included a television station, snack bar, an installation about Bataille and a library themed around his work. Inviting residents to participate in the installation through adding to it, the work raises questions about art and architectural practice and their relation to the production of public space.

The expanded field of spatial production is also the location of Ursula Biemann's work, an artist who works between geography and art in the video format. Her work engages critically with a range of disciplines and fields of knowledge, including feminist and post-colonial theory, ethnography, cultural and media studies and urbanism. Projects such as Sahara Chronicle (2006-2009) and Remote Sensing (2001) document spatial agency in unfamiliar contexts, whether it is the sub-Saharan migrations across Africa towards Europe or the territories of the global sex trade. Biemann spatialises the territorial and human relations in these situations, which are intricately linked to and influenced by the social and economic consequences of globalisation.

Other artists also work in fruitful collaborations with architects, such as the group of women artists and architects, Taking Place. Their work looks to define what a specifically feminist spatial practice could be. They have organised a number of events, from small gatherings to larger events hosted at institutions, involving students and members of the public. The events are a forum in which to discuss ideas and projects, as well as a chance for temporary transformations of space, for example lectures and talks occur in stairwells whereas lecture theatres become places to cook and impromptu performances are organised. Whether coming from an artistic or architectural point of view, taking place's practice is about conceptualising space as fluid, social and political, and as their name suggests, they start from the premise that 'places can simply be taken'.

Other collaborations between artists and architects include formal practices, such as muf and Public works, or informal networks that come together around specific projects, such as those initiated by Atelier d'Architecture AutogéréeCrimson,ExyztRaumlabor and others. Architects, such as Teddy Cruz and collectives such as Stalker / Osservatorio Nomade often work in collaboration with artists, whilst certain artists and artistic movements have had a large and direct impact on the practice of architecture, for example the Situationists, who have defined new directions for architecture that emphasise the everyday and the relationships between politics and cultural practice.

Key Projects

Other Work

'Michael Rakowitz', [accessed 6 July 2010].

Michael Rakowitz and Nick Stillman, 'Conversations …', New York Foundation for the Arts [accessed 7 September 2009].

'Marjetica Potrc', [accessed 6 July 2010].

Marjetica Potrc, Urgent Architecture, Pap/DVD (LA: Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, 2004).

Marjetica Potrc and Aisling O'Beirn, 'Tracking the Urban Animal', Circa, (2001): 26-29.

Craig Garrett and Thomas Hirschhorn, 'Thomas Hirschhorn: Philosophical Battery (interview)', Flash Art, (2004) [accessed 5 July 2010].

'Geobodies - Ursula Biemann's Art and Geography Site',[accessed 5 July 2010].

Ursula Biemann, 'Remotely Sensed: A Topography of the Global Sex Trade', Feminist Review, 2005, 180-193.

Jan-Erik Lundstrom et al., Ursula Biemann: Mission Reports - Artistic Practice in the Field - Video Works 1998-2008 (Bristol: Arnolfini Gallery Ltd, 2008).

References About

Benjamin Buchloh, 'Cargo and cult: The displays of Thomas Hirschhorn', ArtForum, 2001,;col1 [accessed 4 July 2010].

Angela Dimitrakaki, 'Materialist Feminism for the Twenty-First Century: The Video Essays of Ursula Biemann', Oxford Art Journal, 30 (2007), 207-232.

Mark Rappolt, 'Studio: Thomas Hirschhorn', Tate Magazine Issue 7 [accessed 4 July 2010].

Marco Scotini, 'Dry Toilet', Domus, 891 (2006), 88-91.

N. Thompson, The Interventionists: Users' Manual for the Creative Disruption of Everyday Life (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004).


Resilient design for community safety and terror-resistant cities

J. Coaffee PhD, C. Moore PhD, D. Fletcher PhD and L. Bosher PhD, FRGS, MICDDS

Resilience against an array of traditional and unconventional terrorist threats is increasingly important to the way towns and\ cities are designed and managed and how built environment professionals attempt to enhance levels of community safety. This is particularly the case with regard to crowded public places and transport systems such as light rail or trams, which are seen as particularly vulnerable to terrorist attack. This paper argues that contemporary terrorist threats and tactics mean that counter-terrorism in urban areas should increasingly seek to hybridise hard and soft engineering solutions in order to design and manage the built environment in ways that can reduce the occurrence or impact of a terrorist attack. In particular, it is argued that for counter-terrorism to be successful, inter-professional solutions are required for a wide range of public, private and community stakeholders that are (or should be) involved with the planning, design, construction, operation and management of public places. 


Successful places are safe, well maintained and well managed. Achieving this depends on managing the physical asset effectively and appropriately. With the right structures, people who live and use the place will be able to influence what happens there.1

Community safety is a broad issue that has become central to recent UK Government attempts to create sustainable communities and secure public places. For example, Safer Places: The Planning System and Crime Prevention argued that ‘safety and security are essential to successful, sustainable communities’.2 Not only are such places well-designed, attractive environments in which to live and work, they are also places where freedom from crime—and from the fear of crime—improves the quality of life. This guide identified seven ‘attributes of sustainability’ that should be considered as ‘prompts’ to thinking about promoting community safety.2 These attributes, summarised in Table 1, draw significantly on the ideas of ‘crime prevention through environmental design’ and ‘defensible space’, which have been utilised by built environment professionals and law enforcement agencies since the 1970s.

Increasingly, these are also attributes that are entering current discourse on countering terrorism in urban areas, although such attempts to reduce terrorist risk are by no means unprecedented. 

During the 1990s, the experience of UK authorities in attempting to ‘design out’ terrorism was largely confined to efforts to stop car bombing (or vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices
( VBIEDs)) by the Provisional Irish Republican Army ( PIRA) against the economic infrastructure in London. More recently, concerns about the likelihood and impact of terrorist attack on crowded public places using a variety of novel and experimental deployment methods (e.g. the failed attacks in central London and a partially successful VBIED at Glasgow airport in 2007) has heightened the sense of fear in many urban locations as future attacks against ‘soft targets’ appear more likely. Such forms of terrorist attack also have echoes of a spate of PIRA bombings in the mid-1970s against soft targets such as pubs and restaurants.

In short, over the last five years, the threat of terrorism has evolved rapidly; new approaches to countering terrorism are needed in response. Terrorism is understood here to mean one of many operational methods deployed either singularly or as part of a campaign so as to affect one or more targets, thereby affecting political, social and economic life.3

Crowded public places (e.g. shopping areas, transport systems, sports and conference arenas) in particular are at high risk. Furthermore, they cannot be subject to traditional security approaches such as searches and checkpoints without radically changing public experience. The creation of an environment that is inherently more resilient and less likely to suffer attack through ‘designing in’ counter-terrorism to physical and managerial urban systems, offers hope of improving security in an acceptable as well as effective way.

Within this context, this paper sets out the challenges for municipal engineers, built environment professionals and security agencies to increase the terror resistance of our cities through physical intervention and managerial measures—the hardware and software of ‘resilient planning’.4 The approaches described form the basis of ongoing research by the authors (Fig. 1).


Before the events of 9/11, threats of terrorism predominantly came from VBIEDs targeting major financial or political centres. In response, attempts to counter terrorism often utilised planning regulations and advanced technology to create ‘security zones’ or ‘rings of steel’ where access was restricted and surveillance significantly enhanced.5 9/11 made such counter- terrorist tactics appear inadequate, and security policy began to 

shift to proactive and pre-emptive solutions based on ideas of resilience—defined here as ‘the ability to detect, prevent and if necessary handle disruptive challenges.This includes but is not limited to disruptive challenges arising from the possibility of a terrorist attack’.6 This has forced a rethinking of traditional emergency planning and counter-terrorist tactics given the increased magnitude of the threats faced—especially those from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) sources which many terrorist groups have expressed significant interest in utilising in attacks, and which, in the words of the UK prime minister, could hit ‘anywhere and from any place’.7 Equally, however, the threat posed by person-borne explosive devices in crowded public places (e.g. the Bali pub bombings in 2002 and the Madrid train attacks in 2004) is setting new challenges for professionals involved in providing security in crowded places, especially in light of the suicide attacks on the London transport network in July 2005 and the London and Glasgow attacks in July 2007.

Although debates on the relationship between new and traditional threats continue, the methods and tactics adopted by terror groups are novel, innovative and increasingly focused on mass casualty strikes or multiple coordinated attacks. Such attacks, often conducted by suicide attackers and tactically aimed at ‘soft’ targets and more generally crowded places, have led to considerable ongoing and multi-disciplinary research.8 Crowded areas have features in common (such as their lack of access control), but may be bounded (e.g. a stadium or train) or unbounded (e.g. a shopping area). Some policy-related work has helped to understand the changing nature of the threat in relation to evolving groups such as Al Qaeda.9 Nevertheless, much of the academic work post-9/11 fails to offer the truly multi- disciplinary and inter-professional approach needed to develop strategies to maintain community safety by deterring terrorism in public places while ensuring public acceptability of the security measures. While iconic buildings and specific hubs such as airports have long been identified as targets for terror attacks, a more general reading of public places is also required if resilience is to be enhanced. For example, public places such as shopping centres, pubs, clubs and markets may be especially crowded at specific times of the day or year. Depending on their social and cultural function, public places may be fixed, but they may also be cordoned-off due to events and subject to impromptu queuing and crowding. Although public places such as shopping malls or train stations serve a community, they may be simultaneously linked to the private sector, and accordingly, they could be crowded at peak shopping or travel times. Together, this blend of changing terror methods and targets, especially those directed at crowded places in urban centres, provides a challenge for security professionals and practitioners.

National policy makers and the security services now perceive attacks against crowded public places as one of their key priorities in the ongoing fight against terrorism.  

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Architecture and Society: The Major Linkages

Ismail Seragelclin 

The Most Social of the Arts? There is no art form that is as completely intertwined with a particular society as its architectural expression: for it is art that is physically rooted in the geographic location of that society. For the members of that society — and this is to no way deny that the society may be far from an integrated entity — it reflects both their aspirations, their artistic sensibility, and their economic wealth; the level of advancement of their technology; the elements of climate and topogra­ phy, and the structure of their social organisation. Not only does the architecture of any people physically express all this, being the net result of all the contradictions that society embodies, but is also helps shape the vision of the society of itself. It is both a mirror of that society's activities and an instrument shaping its identity.

Within this context, however, it is not clear to what extent the architectural profession, per se, is responsible for moulding taste, or merely for carrying it out. As Allsopp has stated: "The failure of modem architecture in recent years is only partly the fault of architects. The main burden of blame for inhumane architecture must rest upon clients who have failed to educate themselves for the great responsibilities they undertake" 1. It is for this reason that the AKAA has consciously underlined the collective responsibility of all involved in the proccess of creating a building which is deserv­ing of recognition.

It is undeniable that the taste of the governing elite is likely to dominate the pattern of buildings that give an area its easily identifiable character and that serve as landmarks and as exemplars of what the state's dominant elite promotes. As Oleg Grabar has noted, the form of the cities in the Muslim world was defined by the middle class, while the monuments were defined by the elite.2 This is not to say that artistic expression is totally constrained by societal reality. Without question artists — be they architects, painters or sculptors — play a role in defining, articulating and improving society's perception of itself and its perception of its aesthetic reality. As Hamilton once put it: "The artist, whether his medium is verbal, pictorial, plastic, or musical, is the man equipped with radar to penetrate the cultural fogs of the age."3

However, architects are more constrained than other artists. They have to contend with clients and financing, and they have to contend with the need for their creations to function properly and to meet a rigorous set of codes and restric­ tions. They interact with society much more than other artists, and they cannot function in isolation. Hence, architecture is by far the most closely linked of the arts to the reality of society in its multiplicity of dimensions, be they economic, social, cultural, political, institutional or religious.

Architecture and the "Image of Progress". In the context of the architecture of the Muslim world, I would like to emphasise that a central part of the problem which we confront in our Muslim culture today is that most of the ruling elites of our societies have gone through a process of disassociation from their cultural roots. This has led to the dichotomisation of cultural perception, where the historic heritage — cultural, religious, spiritual — is identified with the past, backwardness and poverty, while the image of "progress" is borrowed from elsewhere, namely the West.

Unless and until architects and intellectuals generally succeed in providing the ruling elites of Muslim societies with an alternative image of progress, they will continue to pay lip service to the need for cultural authenticity while their actions will speak more loudly than their words as they hurry to adopt the most superficial aspects of Western culture.

Architecture and Changing Cultural Identity. As we have seen, the architect is responsible, by the variety of activities that he or she undertakes, for the definition or "image of progress" that a society, or at least its elite, holds of itself. The physical expression of that society today in most Third World countries is closely identified with the Manhattan skyline, and leaves little room for a more articulated and sensitive response that is more respectful of cultural continuity and more responsive to climatic and site requirements. Unless architects can successfully convince the elites of their societies to replace their imported image of progress with a more coherent and effective one, there is going to be little chance to reverse that widespread degradation of the urbanistic character and architectural expression that is so prevalent throughout the Muslim world and more generally the Third World. The task of defining such an alternative reality for a contemporary image of progress in the Third World, of which the Muslim world is a part, is not an easy one. The designers who will cope with that task have to convince the "disassociated" de- cision-makers and the commercial elite of their societies of the superiority of the al­ternative that they present, to the imported model. Only if this task can be done will the secondary effects of this new indigenous alternative reality be achieved. Namely, that the architectural expression of the whole society will be gradually affected. The lower middle classes aspire to have residences and to work in places that are comparable to those of the upper middle classes, and the upper middle classes to have residences and to work in places that are comparable to those of the prevailing elite. By changing the architecture of the elite, architects can indeed change the perception of large segments of society as to what is desirable as an expression of modernity and of social status.

It is unlikely that architects will be able to do this alone. A wide variety of disciplines have to interact in order to ensure that the visionary efforts of imagina­tive, sensitive architects are not left in isolation, but that the intellectual underpin­nings that deal with abstractions and ideas, as well as with the social, economic and institutional realities of any societal system, are coherent and pull in the same direction. Without that, inherent tension is likely to continue and ruptures of a cultural and intellectual kind, at the very least, are bound to continue. 4 Architec­ture and urban planning will suffer in their inability to fulfill their assigned and noble mission of being the agents of progress rather than the servants of an elite. 

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