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12 | 2017
The space of diplomacy. Design and beyond

Editor's notes

This guest-edited section invites contributions that reflect on the role and meanings of embassies, consular buildings and other officially “foreign” structures in the urban fabrics situated “beyond Europe”.  Albeit inherently representative objects, embassies are seldom considered as architectural signifiers, or as parts of the cultural landscape of a city. While the architecture of diplomacy displaces literally a fragment of the nation beyond its territorial borders, this movement is never limited to the transfer of technologies and architectural styles. Instead, the making of diplomatic landmarks can be assessed as a dialogic process of space production, entailing negotiation and domestication in the foreign context, appropriation and reworking of local symbolic and material resources, interaction with the surrounding social and physical landscape. The afterlife of such landmarks is also an interesting aspect of the general question of their meaning and symbolic function: how embassies designed in a peculiar geo-political situation may be perceived and used in new ways after crucial disruptions or crises of the local or international order. Not only visual and stylistic, but also functional and social hybridity may be a component of the life of these structures, especially in contexts where the boundaries between diplomacy and international commerce were not yet rigidly established.
Critical and historical studies on empirical cases or broader historical processes, as well as theoretical/conceptual issues, will be considered for inclusion in this issue. Papers studying the formation of districts or environments of diplomacy; evaluations of design policies applied by a state in different regions for the architecture of embassies; as well as monographic studies contextualizing a foreign landmark in a local landscape may be proposed for publication. Aspects of patronage and authorship (in many cases diffused, and exceeding the limits of the individual actor), integration in—or estrangement from—the urban/social fabric, as well as changing or persisting representational strategies affected by global and regional geo-political developments will be valued as important elements of the critical discussion proposed in each paper.

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