Tsz Hung Hu

MArch I AP

A Matter of Life and Death: The Making of Architecture in the Paradigm of Conflict

Advised by Lisa Haber-Thomson

The making of architecture is historically embedded in a world system of conflicts—war, occupation, colonization, reconstruction, refuge, etc. Across the eras of World Wars and Cold War up until now, architecture’s creation has become an expression of fear and anxiety toward the incidence of conflict through forms of defense, separation, and control. From the destruction of the Atlantic Wall to the fall of the Berlin Wall to now the reappearance of border walls, such creations, paradoxically, did not lead to a promised betterment of the future, but a recurrence of conflicts through the destruction of architecture. Architecture is trapped in a dystopian loop of repeated creation and destruction, reiterating the presence of conflict through its making—an unstable and antagonistic relationship. 

The thesis questions the role of architecture in this vicious loop: Is the making of architecture merely a product of conflict? Does the making of architecture uphold agency in the recurrence of conflict? And how can architecture possibly harvest conflictual forces brought by its creation and ruination for a productive change? 

Focusing on one of the most contested spaces—the border zone as a testing ground—it tries to question and reposition the construction and destruction of border infrastructure as not merely a materialization of conflict, but moments of resiliency that convey spaces of exception, reconciliation, and encounter. 

Tsz Hung Hu, MArch I AP. Two black-and-white photos of people knocking down walls.