Architectural transitional justice? Political renewal within the scars of a violent past

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Abstract / Description of output

Located at the intersection of political theory, memory studies and architecture,this article tentatively proposes the concept of architectural transitional justice (TJ) to capture architecture’s power to provide favourable spaces for two interrelated processes: grappling with a violent past while simultaneously imagining a hopeful future. It argues that architecture can support – though not ensure – political renewal. While TJ scholars have explored architecture’s partin memorialization, they have mostly focused on symbolic constructions. This paper shifts focus and examines a broader category of buildings that were integral to the geography of violence but whose function was not primarily symbolic. Such buildings scar the architectural tissue of successor political orders. The paper crosses disciplinary boundaries to understand how communities can valorise these scars, avoiding both nostalgic and tabula rasa approaches to reconstruction. The reinvention of two Nazi Flack Towers in Vienna and Hamburg serve as potential instantiations of architectural TJ.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515–536
JournalInternational Journal of Transitional Justice
Issue number3
Early online date29 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • architectural transitional justice
  • political memory
  • political imagination
  • collective responsibility
  • Lebbeus Woods
  • Flak Towers


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