Legal Sightseeing Institutional Architecture: Winter Reads

Law – Space – Architecture

Over the winter months legal sightseeing presents a mini-blog series on international law’s institutional architecture. We explore how institutional architecture is international law in concrete. Buildings, spaces and infrastructures make law physical and visible, felt and imagined, functional, historic and exclusive. Through this series we both reflect on a recent workshop at VU Amsterdam convened around this theme, and prepare for a joint handbook going forward.

Across the series we show how architecture concretely materialises international law. The past workshop took us from carefully constituted town squares to the subversive connections drawn in liminal spaces to outright sites of destruction and the creative potential that lies therein. We visited the UN headquarters in Geneva and New York, and also in the Amazon. In the words of one participant: What is it architecture does? What is it the law does in response? How does architecture become a legal matter? How does law become susceptible to the many lives of architecture?

In finding how architecture can serve to destabilise law, contributors look for the echo of law in the gardens of Sydney and Stockholm, they look for the touch of law in the lasting materiality of left-behind international conference settings, they trace courtrooms online. As we travel after these architectural highlights in Nairobi, Rojava, Paris, and elsewhere the question arises: how does architecture move people towards protest, towards participation, towards certain centres and not others? When is architecture a conduit for aspirations, when more attitude than sight?

See Legal Sightseeing website here.

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