Paul Dobraszczyk: How anarchist architecture could help us build back better after COVID

The Conversation | 1/22/2022

Architecture and anarchy may not seem like the most obvious pairing. But since anarchism emerged as a distinct kind of politics in the second half of the 19th-century, it has inspired countless alternative communities.

Christiania in CopenhagenSlab City in the California desertLa ZAD in the French countryside, and Grow Heathrow in London all feature self-organised forms of building. On the one hand, this includes remodelling existing structures, usually abandoned buildings. On the other, it can mean building entirely new spaces to accommodate individual liberty and radical change in social organisation.

At its heart, anarchism is a politics of thought and action. And it reflects the original meaning of the ancient Greek word anarkhi meaning “the absence of government”. All forms of anarchism are founded on self-organisation or government from below. Often stemming from a place of radical scepticism of unaccountable authorities, anarchism favours bottom-up self-organisation over hierarchy. It is not about disorder, but rather a different order – based on the principles of autonomy, voluntary association, self-organisation, mutual aid and direct democracy.

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