Walled gardens: new medievalism?

The creation of walled gardens has always been an amazing topic in architecture; and it certainly has important implications. The IHT has a good piece about walls.

"Like their 13th- to 15th-century counterparts, contemporary architects are being enlisted to create not only major civic landmarks but lines of civic defense, with aesthetically pleasing features like elegantly sculpted barriers around public plazas or decorative cladding for bulky protective concrete walls. This vision may seem closer in spirit to Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of angular fortifications or Michelangelo's designs for organically shaped bastions than to a post-Cold War era of high-tech surveillance. (...) To some, compromise may be preferable to surrounding our cities with barbed wire and sandbags. The notion that we can design our way out of these problems should give us pause, however. Our streets may be prettier, but the prettiness is camouflage for the budding reality of a society ruled by fear."

The article then lists some examples ranging from war zones to great cities:

" the Green Zone, the American encampment in Baghdad, where the 3.6-meter, or 12-foot, high concrete slabs that surround Saddam Hussein's former palaces have infused the city within a city with the ethos of the gated suburban enclaves of Southern California. (...) even the most thoughtful solutions, like the gracefully curved steel tubes that defend the plaza of Thom Mayne's Caltrans District 7 headquarters building in Los Angeles or the faceted bronze bollards on Wall Street, suggest the fragile balance today's architects are struggling to reach between assuring the freedom of movement that is vital to a functioning democracy and bolstering security. "

Why do I blog this? this is interesting in terms of understanding the environment in which people act (and then where technologies are deployed). At a higher level, this "new medievalism" as described in the article can also be perceived as a metaphor of existing practices in virtual environments or for accessing data on certain devices.


The picture has been taken in Zürich, it shows how conspicuously walls can be erected to set a boundary between different areas (in this context a residential area versus a derelict industrial zone). You take few wooden decks, cardboard, old doors; fix them with duct tape and then you have a wall.