Review: The Design of Protest
In the architectural design profession, or perhaps in all professions, there is a process that takes place day to day. It forms the repetition of the job.
After gaining experience and handling multiple projects from beginning to end, an architecture professional also absorbs the repetition of the process. Lather, rinse, and repeat — or rather, design, document, and construct in an architectural professional’s case.
Yes, this experience differs from person to person and project to project, and there are plenty of unique opportunities and challenges that might occur to break that cycle. But monotony is not the point here. Rather, it is this process that can narrow a person’s view to just the work at hand without realizing where else it might apply.
I, for one, forget sometimes to take a step back from my work and remember that design is a part of many things not related to the building and fabrication industries. Tali Hatuka’s book The Design of Protest allowed me to take that step back to see design from a different perspective and gain a newfound sense of the typical design process.
Hatuka is an Israeli architect who founded the Laboratory of Contemporary Urban Design at Tel Aviv University. Her work explores the relationships of urban renewal, violence, and daily life in contemporary society.
Hatuka’s experience gives her an informed perspective on protest as a designed event that uses public space. In the first part of the book, she explains many concepts by addressing “distance,” viewing it from a sociological and literal perspective and using it throughout the rest of the book. From there, she studies not only the physical attributes of protests but also digs deep into the sociological, psychological, and political sides of what drives them.
In the second part of the book, she describes typologies of protests based on such factors as place and procession. Then she goes into great detail on protests that have occurred across the world, using the terms and concepts she presented earlier. She helps the reader understand the demonstrations and the effects they had in their specific physical and social environments.
In the third and final part of the book, she wraps everything up by reflecting on the nature of protests and associating them with our hubris and, again, the impact that they have.
This book is by no means a guide on how to put together a protest. Please do not pick this book up with that in mind.
Rather, pick this work up to appreciate design from a different perspective. Pick it up to read about the experiences of others who worked to put together what is essentially a design project with many facets aimed at making a point, calling for action, or simply standing up for a belief.
Today, with worldwide political, social, and geographical strife, this book could not be a more relevant read.
Kyle Kenerley, AIA, NCARB is an architect at Corgan.