National Identity Essay

1704 words - 7 pages

National Identity - A sense of a nation as a cohesive whole,
as represented by distinctive traditions, culture, and language1

The architecture of the Twentieth century has been shaped by powerful social, economic and political forces. This has stemmed from influence of war, diverse political regimes, national and international architectural movements and technological development. Along with this architects and ideas has been able to travel around the world more than ever before and from this designs have become apparent that sought to break with the past.

Architecture that was once specific and local has now become global. It would seem that the national identity of the past has been sacrificed for the development of modernity.
The beginning of modern globalisation can be seen as far back as the First World War.
It is at this point where we are able to start for the range of narrative that were to follow.
Back then it was easy to distinguish between “British” architecture and “Saudi Arabian”.
However, through time, significant encounters between cultures and technological inventions the national identity that each country possessed seems to be lost in a universal architectural language. Gone are the days of originality in architecture and instead they have been replaced by a uniformity of monumental, glazed structures. Architecture has evolved into a single, modern aesthetic. It is sometimes hard to see where the unique national features and mentalities lie in these buildings, especially with the increased and ever flourishing collaboration internationally.

The questions to be asked are what remains of national styles today and how did we get here? What is of a particular interest is how “British” architecture has abandoned its national identity. Erased are the days of English Baroque and Georgian which Britain is so well known for and instead British architecture of today is in favour of this universal adoption of a single modern language. What remains to be seem is if anyone can break free of this new tradition in architecture?
This brings in the problem of authorship in architecture. What is the architect's role in cultural production? Is the architect an author or merely a service provider?

A new era needs to begin were someone subverts this modern architectural language and brings back the national identity of a country, no matter how subtle it may be. Architectural styles have constantly been challenged and questioned throughout history so why can't this one?
A key issue that arises from this is the idea of Preservation vs Modernisation. Preservation is a key aspect in keeping a national identity but this should not hold back the evolution of a country. Sentimentality should not take centre stage and preservation should only be acknowledged if the architecture can fulfil the function of the modern world. There would seem to be a fine line between national identity and modern evolution of a country.

To truly understand what...

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