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Weaponised Forms

August 29, 2012

“Every room is a new battle. […] Avoid cities if you can. If you can’t, avoid enemy areas. If you can’t do that, avoid entering buildings.”— Israeli officer quoted in US Army urban warfare manual, as reported by Vernon Loeb

Avoid cities if you can. I can’t find the original source for this quote, but it has made its way into both Disarming Iraq and The Resilient City, where I first read it. It certainly is an evocative sound-bite, so I really hope someone actually said it. As P.D. Smith explains in his ‘guidebook for the urban age,’ cities were always designed as war machines. The original meaning of polis was ‘citadel,’ and the very form of early cities was carved out by “the defensive wall,” their “most prominent and visible feature.” He continues,

“Elaborate fortifications turned early cities into military machines – soaring watchtowers, gates protected by symbolic lions and bulls, battlements, walls wide enough for three chariots, ramparts, moats and ditches.”

While modern urban warfare has moved on from the simple symmetries of fighting off the enemy at the gates, today’s city is no less a war machine. Indeed, war has now seeped inwards, splintering the citadel a thousand ways.

Excerpt from a text by Jad Baaklini via The State. Continue HERE

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