Form follows power: A genealogy of urban shrines

Maria Kaika, Korinna Thielen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, Maria Kaika and Korinna Thielen chart the historical development of 'the secular shrine'-an assertion of state and corporate power that came to dominate the urban landscape from the second half of the nineteenth century. Many of the aesthetic features of this secular monumentalism can be identified in earlier sacred and classical architecture and served to legitimate its adaptation for secular purposes. With the exception of industrial architecture, it was only in the latter half of the twentieth century that the secular shrine as unadorned modernism finally emerged. The perceived failure of modernism to create liveable communities prompted a shift in emphasis towards a 'picture postcard' view of the city in which 'signature buildings' stand as new forbidden temples. Kaika and Thielen conclude that both the sacred and the profane continue to use the built form as an iconography of their respective wills to power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-69
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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