Taiming Chen and Bowen Zheng
Versailles 1-Palacio de Versalles en español Version, Youtube Video, 14:54, posted by MarquisdeCondercet, Aug 21, 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NI9L8QiarqM&feature=share&list=PL1F4D0B4BCAF119B6
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp: Part 1 of 2, Youtube Video, 10:44, posted by StumpMrB, Mar 10, 2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnqbeakXB0k
Inside secret passageways at the Post Office (Lookout Gallery), Youtube Video, 3:43, posted zeekzilch, Nov 6, 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3MO-jNuYCU
From Pierre Patel, “View of Versailles”, 1668, Musee National du Chateau de Versailles
From “First-floor plan of the Wilmington, Delaware, Post Office and Courthouse”, 1891, ink on paper, from Wilmington, Delaware, Post Office and Courthouse Records, National Archives at College Park, Maryland
From “Detail of plan and sections of lookout over Vault A, a turret-type lookout, showing ladder accessing it”, 1891, ink on paper, from Wilmington, Delaware, Post Office and Courthouse Records, National Archives at College Park, Maryland
From “Interior view of working room at the post office and courthouse in Wilmington”, 1911, from Wilmington, Delaware, Post Office and Courthouse Records, National Archives at College Park, Maryland
From “First-floor plan of remolded Wilmington, Delaware, Post office and Courthouse”, April 1911, ink on paper, from Wilmington, Delaware, Post Office and Courthouse Records, National Archives at College Park, Maryland
Anonymous, “Plan of Sachsenhausen”, ink on paper, http://www.vrid-memorial.com/afficher/rubrique/5/deportation/article/138/Tmoignage-de-Monsieur-Marcel-Couradeau-dport-Sachsenhausen.html.
Ruan de Witt, “Sachsenhausen security perimeter fence”, 8 February 2009, digital picture, 3056 × 2292, http://www.berlinprivatetours.com/tours/sachsenhausen.html.
Architecture generally provides a shelter with basic facilities for humans and keeps human from the outside force. Despite this general function, architecture, through certain spatial arrangements as well as forms, can perform as a control tool of human behaviors to achieve certain regulations of people to cater either social tendency or individual intention. This control can be applied to different groups of people in different historical periods, and purpose of the control also varies depending on different social situations or tendencies. Therefore, why the control is necessary in certain buildings and how that control is carried out become worthy to probe into. Throughout the history, Palace of Versailles, Wilmington Post Office and Courthouse, and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp can be regarded as representatives of architectural control not only because of their prominent architectural operations through which control is achieved but mostly due to their purposes: reinforcing social hierarchy in court palaces, improving working efficiency in office buildings, and establishing standard discipline in prisons.
Palace of Versailles, Île-de-France region of France, first built in 1624, expanded from 1669 in Louis XIV period by Jules Hardouin Mansart
In Louis XIV period, Palace of Versailles was a typical court palace where the behaviors of both habitants and visitors were controlled to reinforce social hierarchy. Built from 1624 as a hunting lodge in France, Versailles gradually transformed into an integrated court palace and became the center of power after Louis XIV settled down in 1682. The intention of designing Versailles was thus to control over human mind and human behaviors through formal and spatial implications; that is, to impose the impression of absolute
authority and monarchy to anyone else other than the king. This control was mainly achieved through the overall layout and the designed spatial sequence inside Versailles. Symmetrical about the east-west axis, three tree-lined roads highlight the centrality of Versailles by radiating from as well as leading into the open space (oval courtyard) in front of the main palace building. Therefore, people who were to enter the palace could only follow these three roads strictly and would then be inspected by sentries
in the flanking sentry boxes, which controlled the flow of visitors and also signified the central power they were approaching to. Inside the grille enclosure, two service buildings are in the most front,
suggesting more accessible spaces for the lower class (servants). King’s Apartment and Queen’s Apartment are attached in the back and dented deeply to emphasize the inviolable status of the king. The living quarters were designed to be semi-public spaces laid in front of Hall of Mirrors, serving as working place for the king. Located at center of the living quarters, the bedchamber is also the main entrance of the palace where visitors could observe the kind’s bed but could never step into it, because the railing in front of the bed performed as firm control and drew a clear distinction between the
ordinary status of visitors and supreme of the king. The following sequences of visitors after they entered were continuously controlled within the L shape without bothering the apartments. The closer to King’s apartment, the more private the living quarters became, for only selected courtiers were invited and allowed to enter for council or dining at the right end, ensuring that no one would invade King’s Apartment. In addition to the spatial experiences of visitors, the behaviors of habitants were also controlled in Versailles. Lodgings for courtiers and nobles were uniformly arranged along corridors on each floor above the ground floor to allow easy access of inspection and regulation. Each unit of lodging was also given a number and key so that control was applied over courtiers and nobles to prevent them escaping from the required time of living, developing their own regional power or countering the power of Louis XIV.1
Post Office and Courthouse, Wilmington, Delaware, completed in March 1897, remolded around 1910, no longer standing.
As time shifted to the industrial age from late 19th to early 20th centuries, the purpose of architectural control also shifted to increase the manufacturing efficiency. During this period, the existence of social hierarchy was diminished, while the increasing human needs led to the fast growing of industrial economy. In order to deal with the increasing numbers of mails, Wilmington Post Office and Courthouse in Delaware, built in 1897, had to largely expand the workforce, which made it difficult to regulate the workforce. To solve the problem, the architect, instead of simply relying on the architectural layout,
combined the spatial arrangement with surveillance mechanism to control and ensure the obedience of workers and their working efficiency. The most evident way of achieving surveillance was placing the large working space in the center to allow the managerial personnel from surrounding service bays to pierce the working process. Apart from that, the real essence of surveillance mechanism in the building is the lookouts which appeared in several different forms. Turret-type lookouts, designed into the original construction, were rooms on a mezzanine floor above service area within which inspectors could have an elevated view of working room below through punched windows.2
After Post Office and Courthouse was remolded in 1910 with workroom enlarged, another kind of lookout, hanging-type gallery was constructed in an enclosed line suspended from the ceiling at center of working room.3 Similar to turret-type, suspended gallery provided an elevated view of supervision through small louvered vent pierced in the wall while workers down below would never know whether they were being watched. However, better than turret-type, suspended gallery built in a U shape with additional peepholes in the floor offered an almost 360 degree panorama view of both sides of workroom so that inspectors had complete control of worker behaviors. Under this surveillance, workers would never dare to loaf on the job but rather would work efficiently as if they were always being watched.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Oranienburg, Germany, from 1936 to May 1945, by SS architects
When time moved into 20th century, architectural surveillance, while continuously employed in office or manufacturing buildings, was gradually used more in buildings such as prisons where disciplines were significant. Sachsenhausen concentration camp, a representative of disciplinary prison, established the standard regulation of prisoners not only through the ideally architectural expression but also through actual layout that
allowed surveillance. Primarily for political opponents of the Nazi but not for Jews,4 the camp was arranged in a triangle layout with a major vertical road across central axis of triangle form, aimed at accentuating the absolute power and dominant role of Nazi as well as providing an easy access for commandant to regulate and supervise behaviors of prisoners. Inside the camp, barracks, laid in semicircular forms radiating from the main entrance and symmetrical about the vertical road with washing area in the center, exposed prisoners’ daily behaviors to supervisors who passed through the vertical road through offering a closer and panoramic view of supervision. In front of two rings of barracks, there was also a semicircular Roll Call area where prisoners were lined up in semicircle, easily seen and
counted by commandant in center every day. In addition to the layout of barracks, the triangular enclosure of camp functioned as another layer of surveillance that prevented prisoners from escaping. The 9.8 feet stone wall itself with watchtowers is a firm barrier, within which is a lethal electrical fence. Also, the innermost layer, a gravel “death strip” was designated as a special zone that any prisoner who intended to escape and stepped into this zone would be shot immediately by patrolling personnel.5 Under these three layers of barriers, an automatic control formed over prisoner, compulsively kept them inside the camp and kept them under the power of Nazi.
As discussed above, it is obvious that architecture can be a control tool to achieve different purposes. However, is that control necessary or beneficial? To social extent, the purpose of control in three examples above could all be regarded as positive for their historical age, since Palace of Versailles consolidated the reign of France, Wilmington Post Office and Courthouse improved working efficiency to satisfy mailing needs in industrial age, and Sachsenhausen concentration camp successfully have its prisoners follow the discipline it set up. Nevertheless, to people who were under control, the effect should be reconsidered, as people in Versailles lost equality, workers in Wilmington Post Office and Courthouse lost freedom, and prisoners in Sachsenhausen concentration camp were overly suppressed under totalitarian power of Nazi instead of pure discipline. Based on the discovered advantages and disadvantages of three precedents above, how architectural control is carried out to improve the contemporary society without diminishing human freedom and imposing social or political power on individuals is still important to look at.
- Wikipedia contributors, “The Politics of Display” in “Palace of Versailles,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Palace_of_Versailles&oldid=575442683 (accessed October 7, 2013).
- Anna Vemer Andrzejewski, Building Power (The University of Tennessee Press/Knoxville, 2008), 49-50
- Anna Vemer Andrzejewski, Building Power (The University of Tennessee Press/Knoxville, 2008), 50-52
- Wikipedia contributors, “Sachsenhausen concentration camp,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sachsenhausen_concentration_camp&oldid=577324957 (accessed October 20, 2013).
- Wikipedia contributors, “Custody zone” in “Sachsenhausen concentration camp,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sachsenhausen_concentration_camp&oldid=577324957 (accessed October 20, 2013).
Link to Project 1 controversy Expressions post: https://globalhistory.expressions.syr.edu/foxconn-factory-owners-install-suicide-prevention-nets/
Robert W. Berger, Versailles The Chateau of Louis XIV (The Pennsylvania State University Press University Park And London, 1985)
Robert W. Berger, A Royal Passion, Louis XIV as Patron of Architecture (Cambridge University Press, 1994), 53-64, 107
Anna Vemer Andrzejewski, Building Power (The University of Tennessee Press/Knoxville, 2008), 43-90
Anonymous, “Louis Xiv And The Principles Of Absolutism”, UK essays, http://www.ukessays.com/essays/history/louis-xiv-and-the-principles-of-absolutism-history-essay.php
Anonymous, “Versailles: A Landscape of Politics”, Radford edu, http://www.radford.edu/~rbarris/art216upd2012/Versailles.html
Anonymous, “Map of Sachsenhausen Camp”, Scrapbookpages, 1999, http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Sachsenhausen/Map.html
Günter Morsch, “Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen”, http://www.stiftung-bg.de/gums/en/index.htm.
Wikipedia contributors, “Palace of Versailles,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Palace_of_Versailles&oldid=575442683 (accessed October 7, 2013).
Wikipedia contributors, “Appartement du roi,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Appartement_du_roi&oldid=574497060 (accessed October 20, 2013).
Wikipedia contributors, “Sachsenhausen concentration camp,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sachsenhausen_concentration_camp&oldid=577324957 (accessed October 20, 2013).
Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “Palace of Versailles,” accessed October 07, 2013, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/626457/Palace-of-Versailles.
Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “Sachsenhausen,” accessed October 07, 2013, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/515299/Sachsenhausen.