Manifestation of political power and identity on the built environment : designing of a new Port Shepstone civic centre.
Architecture and political power have long been interrelated throughout history and weaved into the fabric of the built environment. Politics in the past was preoccupied with the expression of power; however, there has been a paradigm shift in favour of the expression of identity, particularly national identity. Local as well as international precedents reveal the extent to which past regimes have manipulated architecture and urban design in the service of politics. Exemplary to this is South Africa, a nation in transition emerging from Western colonization and more recently, the Apartheid regime. It is a country still haunted by ghosts of the past and the spatial organisation of the ‘Apartheid city’. However, South Africa post 1994 is not without examples of contemporary architecture which is a reflection of an “open democracy” in efforts to facilitate renewed interaction and hope in politics and civic architecture. Germany, also emerging from an unsavoury past has embraced the concept of democracy in its political systems and architecture. As a result, the built environment is a record of past together with the present thinking existing in unison, creating rich and meaningful places and spaces rooted in the history of place and time.