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An Architectural Defense From Drones

An Architectural Defense From Drones



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Published by AJKohn

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Published by: AJKohn on Aug 28, 2012
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 An Architectural Defense From DronesFraser - Extreme ArchitectureSpring 2012 Asher J. Kohn
1The drone may conceive of itself - if it was armed with theordinance of self-awareness - as a tool beyond architecture.In the end of the 1990’s society was able to get used toCCTV on street corners in stores and on the street. Wewere even able to accept the use of Tomahawk missiles, atleast in Tom Clancy books. The strangeness of the UnitedStates treating its enemies this way, as though they werethe New England colonies in a strange reuse of KingPhilip’s lexicography, was brushed off in the excitementover new uses of adaptable technology. However, securitycameras and fly-by-wire missiles still were part of a worldthat defined itself with concrete walls, cliffs-as-barriers,and other principles of formal architecture. Drones scoff atsuch conventionalities.Drones’ ability to move through extraordinarilyvaried environments for extraordinarily long periods of time is of course unparalleled. They can scoff at conven-tional architecture by waiting out the inhabitants (if thegoal is to eliminate a single person or a small group) or topoke and prod at the space from infinite angles using anynumber of conventional or digital imaging systems. Or,alternatively, the drone operator has the opportunity todecide to simply blow the whole place up. Much of the pub-licized fear over the expansion of drone warfare and recon-naissance is not distress at the collateral damage in Paki-stan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere but rather the veryreal fear that we in the United States and United States-like environs have no native way to defend ourselves fromthem or their operators.However, as those who depended on castle wallsdiscovered against Ottoman artillery and as the finesthorsemen discovered during trench warfare, no invincibleforce of arms stays that way for long. Architecture againstdrones is not just a science-fiction scenario but a contempo-rary imperative. Such creations are not needed for theJohn Connors but for the Abdurahman al-Awlakis. Thesuccessful check against the machines is not a daydreambut an inevitability, and the quicker more creative solu-tions are proposed, the more likely such answers can bedisseminated widely and kept from the patent-wieldinghands of some offshore-utopian type.
A Brief Overview
2As a law student, I am fascinated by drones’ exis-tence in a post-legal world. Architecture can adapt, andthis project clearly aims to show just those adaptations,but American jurisprudence is simply not capable of making clear, comforting, adjudications on drones and thesorts of crimes they have been created to deter. Architec-ture as a discipline has a long history of being capable of developing within the cracks left by law (as false chim-neys, bricked-up window frames and trulli show). Whensovereign governments do not exclude drones, themachines are privileged with an anarchy in which to roam.Laws cannot govern anarchy, but architecture can.It is my goal in this project to conceive of ways to use archi-tecture to accomplish the goals that governance cannot.This is both an admission of defeat and a debriefing toexplore what future alternatives exist.drones. As the machines become more mundane, architects’interactions with them become less politicized. I do notwrite this as a call to arms for architects to roll up theirsleeves and create anti-drone colonies. I instead hope todemonstrate how architects, lawyers, and countless otherprofessions and labors can interact with drones instead of simply being subject to them and their masters.
Learning ObjectivesProfessional Objectives
One would imagine that in a free market world, therewould be booming demand for drone-proof structures.There is certainly desire for defense from these anony-mous interlopers, but what could politely be termed “ineffi-ciencies in the market” have prevented such demandsfrom being met by the worldwide architectural community.Drones are a way to use the city. Architects willhave to interact with them and create built environmentsthat will either promote or inhibit their use. At this stage,political questions that define who we are as a society andwho we include in a society are part-and-parcel of talk on
What is Shura City?
The name “Shura City” comes from the title of an April 5, 2012 piece in Foreign Policy by Farah Jan. Janstudies Quetta, Pakistan – now a home to the “QuettaShura” and all of their pursuers – through the individualswho live and work in the city. Hearing the name at first, Iknew it simply fit for this project. A “shura” is a consulta-tive group of elders and respected individuals who takeresponsibility for the decision-making for a community.The name “Shura City” for me implies a social contract tosolve problems through the dispersal of responsibility.This particular Shura City (translated into Shahral-Shura) also is a direct reference to John Winthrop’s“City Upon a Hill” speech while in transit to the NewWorld. This particular Shura City will also be watched bythe world, although for different reasons. I make no claimsto creating a Utopia for the people pursued by drones nowand in the future, obviously enough. This project is merelyintended as a setting-off point for discussions on properdefense and on what “proper defense” might mean.

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The safest architecture against United States drones and artillery used when drones fail requires that buildings be situated at longitude and latitude coordinates that are at least 500 miles away from the borders of any countries with oil reserves and elected political leaderships. No matter how many killer drones are made, none will ever attack the home of Santa Claus.
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