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Student’s NameProfessor’s NameCourse TitleDateBuilding for Profit: Impact of Economy on Architecture The history of architecture dates back since the ancient times when man utilized the natural resources in order to build structures to cater to their different needs. The ancient civilizations of Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, Chinese, and many others used architecture for the sake of utilitarian purposes. They built temples for religious purposes; they built marketplaces for politics as well as for trade. Residential units used only simple architecture to house families. The whole cities of the ancient period also followed a careful architectural blueprint to determine the extent of the territory of the kingdom. In the contemporary period, the debate regarding architectural commodification focuses on how the space is used for the sake of commercialization. Although many consider this trend as ‘modern’, this paper argues that commercialization of space and building for the sake of profit is a legacy given by the ancient civilizations to the modern world. The notion of conducting trade within the enclosed space is the reason why ancient Greeks built agoras or marketplaces which functioned not only to enhance economy but also allowed the propagation of democratic thinking and allowed people to reflect on their own heritage. Using the built environment for the sake of commercialization, it allows people to utilize space to innovate, interact with the society and the local culture, and successfully connect with livelihood. The Roman writer, military engineer, and architect, Vitruvius, wrote in his treatise of architecture that architecture should not only focus on the aesthetic but also the architect must focus on making the architecture the machine that drives the society. Economy is the heart of a civilization; without economy, no civilization could thrive and Vitruvius made it clear in his treatise that architecture is related with the economy since economy dictates the sizes, style, and location of the structures. The more bigger and closer the structure in the public realm, the more important it is. Second, Vitruvius also argued that economy impacts architecture in way that it determines the kind of “dwellings” or in the modern context, amenities that attend to the “needs” of the people (Vitruvius Bk. I: Ch. II, 16). Although Vitruvius wrote primarily using architecture as a distinction to determine the classes in the society, he also expounded that public building is comprised of three parts: “There are three classes of public buildings: first for defensive, the second for religious, and third for utilitarian purposes. Under defence comes the walls, towers, and gates, permanent devices against hostile attacks; under religion, the erection of fanes and temples to the immortal gods; under utility, the provision of meeting places for public use, such as harbours, markets, colonnades, baths, theatres, promenades, and all other similar arrangements in public places” (Vitruvius, Bk. I: Ch. III, 16-17). Based from Vitruvius’ writings, the role of architecture does not only stop within the labeling of classes and purposes but also, architecture is very well aligned with the economic status of the city. For instance, if a city like New York which has over millions of population, the city government needs to more build public avenues and structures to cater the demands of the people such as shopping malls, theme parks, museums, etc. The space occupied by the building when used to gain profits is commercialized. Therefore, architecture is commercialized and building for the sake of gaining profits is nothing new but serves as the way to fuel the city’s economy and maintain the building itself. Architecture and the Economy”…the greatest secret of architecture, that it collects different things in the world, different materials, and combines them to create a space like this” (Zumthor, 22). Space is anything that is in the environment, empty, yet ubiquitous. Architects create ‘spaces’ from the existing ‘spaces.’ For instance, the agora of Greece is the ancient shopping mall of the antiquity. People created a commercial hub in the community as a means of fueling the civilization through trade. Thompson explained that agoras came in the form of tents being erected to house goods (e.g. food, animals, wares, and slaves). In the 2nd century B.C., Prince Attalos II of Pergamon (Asia Minor) created commercial spaces based from the agoras of the ancient Athenians. He developed a huge “market building” or “stoa” consisted of “two storeys” with “42 convenient shops that could be locked.” Merchandise ranging from luxury items such as “perfume, jewelry, textiles, and works of art, were presumably sold there.” Thompson notes that other remaining rooms in Attalos’ market building were probably used as “offices” to “shipowners, merchants, or bankers” in a similar fashion like the small rooms of the Ostian marketplaces in Rome served as headquarters for the business operations of wealthy merchants (Thompson, 19-20). Economy and commercialization are two of the major reasons why societies build structures. This is to encapsulate everything in a single space. Economy is the driving force of every civilization; the commercial hub of every city supports the needs of the society. In fact, many studies point out that architecture and economy has a direct link with one another and that one cannot survive without the other. Going back to the ancient agora or Greek marketplaces, people interacted with other people inside the market complex. Architecture responded by creating structures to collect and protect the commercial activities in market places. As Zumthor reiterated, architecture is a collection of everything; aside from the materials used in building the structure, after the building process, the structure serves as the prime space dedicated to one specific activity which in the case of marketplaces, they are dedicated to commerce. Therefore, the ordinary empty spaces become the site of commercialization. As more and more people visit the place either to conduct trade or establish businesses, cities needed structures to collect these people into one site in order to give the visitors a point of reference if they wanted to buy something or create new businesses. Communities thrive through trade and marketplaces were made for the purpose of propagating trade and commerce. People migrated where there is business and jobs and that adage remains true even today. Bustling cities with high commercial activity tend to have good buildings and facilities to attract more tourists and investors. In the field of real estate, architecture is also producing houses for the migrating people. Work prompts the people from other places to relocate to other cities in order to decrease their travel time to their offices. Giedion argues that modernity has a direct impact on how the society perceives architecture. The past associated the “houses” to “eternal value” or glorifying the culture but the modern houses as Giedion writes, should remain “…a value of use,” a property which could be sold anytime. The embodiment of pragmatism as the prime principle of creating dwellings for people is a result of industrialization (qtd. in Heynen, 36). Building for the sake of profit is not a new idea but an old one. As the Greek historian Xenophon stated in his work, Oeconomicus, the importance of erecting structures dedicated to commerce is that it unifies everything. Products and technologies from all over the world are exhibited and gathered in one particular place for the sole convenience of the public. Xenophon wrote:”Whatever servant you order to buy something for you from the Agora, and bring it, not one of them will have any difficulty; everyone will plainly know where he must go to get each class of goods. The reason for this, I said, is simply that they are kept in their appointed places” (qtd. in Thompson, 18). The appointed places are the markets or agoras. In the cultural context, space is a commodity, intangible, yet if utilized correctly by establishing proper structures to encapsulate the thriving economy, it could result to profit. If there is profit, there is power. If there is power, there is a civilization. Profits are manifested into various structures which will be discussed below:The AirportsAirports serve as gateways to countries. It is the first structure seen by tourists when they visit another country except their own. Airports such as JFK, Dallas Airport, LAX, and Stansted Airports are few examples of architectural commodification. Airport management are very much aware of the fact that they are the gateways to the country, therefore they must incorporate the idea of commercializing their spaces in order to showcase the amenities, culture, and the economy of their nation. For instance, Stansted Airport in London designed by architect Norman Forster is catering 23 million passengers every year and has a total area of 85, 700m2 (Forster Partners, “Stansted Airport”). The airport design is revolutionary because it is unlike the other airports in the world. Sleek, modern, free, and spacious, these are the characteristics embodied by the Stansted Airport. Fewer walls meant freedom to see the sky and the movement of the airplanes. The corridors are straight and direct the travellers to their respective places to go. Stansted Airport was made on the basis of an architectural experience; to clearly view the wide skies and rekindle the sublimity of sky travels. However, Stansted today is more than just an airport or an architectural masterpiece. It is also the site to go to premier shops showcasing the best of British and international products. Stansted boasts multitude of shops ranging from food, luxury items, gadgets, medicines, etc. When travelling abroad, airports provide the convenience of gathering the possible stuff that might be needed during the long hours of journey. Delays in air travel could cause long waiting hours between stopovers before the destination (Kelley, location 718, par. 9). In order to amuse themselves, travelers might go wandering within the airport premises to shop or window shop. These commercial sections of the bigger airports such as the JFK, Dallas Airport, and LAX provide the passengers with ample opportunities to shop and dine in order to combat boredom as well as purchase souvenirs from the countries they are in before heading back to their destination. At some point, passengers might feel unease and sick either from travel or work so pharmacies helps alleviate the symptoms of fever before it gets worse. Apart from functioning as places of transport, airport also functions as ‘marketplaces’ catering people’s needs during their journey. Therefore, the notion of the marketplace no longer refers to actual markets or shopping centers but also the airports. In this case, the advent of consumerism allowed airports to become structures built for profits. Xenophon’s notion of “appointed places” for shopping no longer refers to the traditional markets but anyone could purchase the best of the local and international produce within the confines of the airports. Museums and Theme parksAccording to Peter Zumthor, “people interact with objects” (Zumthor, 16). Museums are the best places to interact with objects related to the cultures. Majority of the former royal palaces and former homes of important people have been converted into museums. For instance, the Louvre Museum in France houses majority of the finest artworks in the world including Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The architecture of the past was made not solely profit but mainly for the purpose of becoming the headquarters of the family or clan. Architecture from the ancient up to the 19th centuries produced structures to serve as eternal monuments to the people who lived within its confines. Modernism which was a movement that originated in the late 19th to the early 20th century destroyed the philosophy of creating houses to glorify the past; instead, architecture became a response to the changing socio-economic landscape as a result of capitalism. Structures were built in accordance to pragmatism and even today that sense of making it work for the public benefit. The Louvre was a former medieval royal palace dating back to the 13th century; hence, structure such as this would be costly to maintain. By converting it as an art museum, not only people are interacting with the architecture itself but also they interact with the objects that present their rich historical heritage. Museums are profitable institutions; they thrive and maintain their footing in the society using the money derived from museum fees, art patrons, and museum shops. In Greffe’s study presented in 2009 at the Centre d’ Economie de la Sorbonne, the Louvre Museum affects the French economy positively. As the prime art museum in the world, the Louvre alone attracts millions of visitors both local and foreign; it generates “€936 million to € 1.157 million” income which also resulted to the creation of jobs ranging from “10, 292” to “21, 225” (Greffe, 10). Tate Museum in London also showcases the best of British and international artists. The Tate art gallery was founded by the sugar merchant Henry Tate; many artworks ranging from classical to contemporary are enshrined within its walls. Majority of Tate Museum’s funds comes from non-government such as Tate’s bars, art shops, cafes, restaurants, etc. A particular highlight of the 2016-2017 Tate report showed that commercial establishments of the museum such as the gift shop is the way of delivering art and helping artists to obtain livelihood. In fact, Tate Modern and Tate Edit offered “limited edition” items or products crafted by artists (Tate Report 2016-2017, 54). Le Corbusier’s log cabin residence in France originally served as the artist’s home until his death was built in 1952 is now one of the premier tourist destinations in France. Le Corbusier was an architect notable for his pragmatic international style architecture. His buildings reflected the technological products such as steel and glass panels; Le Corbusier focused on the principle of making architecture as somewhat related to nature. He wrote: “Architecture is the first manifestation of man creating his own universe, creating it in the image of nature, submitting to the laws of nature, the laws which govern our own nature, our universe” (Le Corbusier, 73-74). The Cabanon (Small Beach Hut) is situated at Roquebrune-Cap Martin, a place known for its scenic beaches. In contrast to Le Corbusier’s work which employed concrete, steel, and glass as materials, he created a structure that will fit the natural surroundings; thus, he utilized the wooden logs derived from the forests to create a shelter that will embody the rustic charm of living in the countryside. Le Corbusier also painted the interiors with drawings which bears similarity to the ancient cave drawings in France due to their simplicity. Today, it is now a popular tourist destination for people who wanted to know intimately the architect’s life and works. Guided tours ranges from €10-€15 and tour time hours varies from Tuesdays to Sundays starting at 10am to 3pm or 2pm depending on months (Lonely Planet, “Cabanon Le Corbusier”). Architecture employs aesthetic and like museums, theme parks also utilize their merry structures to attract visitors to come and experience the fun rides. Both museums and theme parks do not only serve as places of entertainment but also these structures also became the other appointed places for commerce. Unlike the ancient marketplaces that feature goods in single designated locations, the modern society is bringing up the conveniences of the market to the realms of cultural heritage and in entertainment structures. Therefore, in order to thrive in the competitive capitalistic system, the architecture must follow docile to the needs and challenges of the society. Architecture is not an ordinary art; it is an art based from profit. An architect is merely a designer but they cannot create structure without financial support from the client. Hence, theme parks are built with wide aisles, bright colored neon lights, mascots, etc. in order to amuse and attract visitors. Disneyland with its notable theme parks all over the world uses the model of the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany. Its tall slender round towers, steep roof with pointed gables, airy windows, are all set amidst the wall of greenery making it a real haven for fairytale enthusiasts. Disneyland theme parks wanted to encapsulate the magic of being in a real fairytale castle which is why they modeled their theme parks to resemble its German counterpart. Disneyland’s iconic pointed castle tower is known throughout the world and became a brand for timeless quality entertainment for everyone. The consumerist culture of the 21st century prompted businesspeople to invest in museums and theme parks for the purpose of promoting their brand to the public and creating revenue. In turn, the revenues derived from the lease of space or rent of the occupants is the source of income both museums and theme parks to be used for the improvement of the facilities. The ancient marketplaces has kept the merchants and businesses isolated in one specific location but in this case, “urban planners think about downtown revitalization” by ordering architecture to produce stores to house retail activity. In a way, architecture infused with commerce creates the sense of “movement” which means the more people meant many opportunities for jobs since investors will flock to cater the demands of the public. Therefore, modern structures such as the theme parks and museums do not only present their aesthetic but also they create memorable experience of connecting the society to their heritage while on the other hand, allows freedom for amusement. As Zumthor explained: “It was incredibly important for us to induce a sense of freedom of movement, a milieu for strolling…getting people to let go, to saunter…lies within the powers of an architect…spaces you would enter and begin to feel you could stay there – that you were not just passing through. I’d be standing there, and might just stay a while” (Zumthor, 40, 42). In conclusion, traditional architecture embodies monumentality and eternal; in contrast, modern architecture presents aspects of quality, durability, convenience, uniqueness, and frivolity mainly due to the presence of services and shops that are around catering to the needs of every customer in their premises. The advantage of modern architecture is its ability to adapt and provide for the community what they wanted. Architecture follows where there is profit, jobs, and businesses. Architecture unifies all things in the society. 


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