Iconic or concrete,
eye-catching or dilapidated,
buildings make international law.
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?
Courts in a Time of Crisis
The Nightingale Courts of England and Wales
by Lorna Cameron
Botanic Gardens as International Law’s Institutional Architecture
by Jessie Hohmann
The People’s Parliament of Rojava
Architecture as a Transformative Power
by Bart van Klink
Frozen in Liminality
prestige infrastructure abandoned before completion in Amman, Jordan
by Dorien Keizer
Psychiatric Architectures and Institutional Aesthetics
The Materio-Legislative Entanglement of Outsider Art
by Lucy Finchett-Maddock
by Renske Vos
Law and Architecture’s Brutal Times of Prishtina
The legal meaning of liminal spaces
by Vittoria Becci
York, a Human Rights City:
Materialising International Human Rights Law?
by Alice Trotter
Locating the Archives:
The United Nations and El Salvador’s Collective Memory in Midtown Manhattan
by Valeria Vázquez Guevara
Facing Mount Kenya: Amidst the Ruins of Decolonization
by Daniel R. Quiroga-Villamarín
Vulnerable Architecture in the Law
by Susanne Krasmann
Senate Square, Helsinki
by Panu Minkkinen