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Exit-architecture: design between war and peace

Stephan Trüby's book "Exit-Architecture" examines how paranoia, as a cultural force, shapes architecture and ultimately entire societies.


Stephan Trüby is a theoretician, curator, and architect, and his new book "Exit-Architecture -- Design between War and Peace" is essentially a pamphlet that condenses his preceding writing. He rehashes the key theses of his previous publication, the anthology "5 Codes -- Architecture, Paranoia and Risk in Times of Terror," and substantiates them in his own words and with more contemporary examples.

"Exit-Architecture" maintains Trüby's obsession with "anti-panic design" and examines how paranoia, as a cultural force, shapes architecture and ultimately entire societies. In a time when war and civil architecture can no longer be dichotomized, and war has become a pervasive, permanent state of emergency rather than a defined event (the US, for example, has not officially declared war since World War II), stress levels are at a historic high. Paranoia -- in Trüby's definition "the belief in the devil under secularized conditions" -- rules. He argues that this results in "exit-architecture," architecture whose primary purpose is not to keep in but to offer an out. In other words: it results in architecture that is designed for potential sudden exits.

Crowd Dynamics

Trüby takes the reader through a tour de force from corridors to fire escapes to the Pentagon to the World Trade Center, but his most mesmerizing example of exit-architecture is the Jamarat Bridge in Mina near Mecca. At certain times, more than a million people gather in the area of the bridge during the Hajj pilgrimage, and pilgrims are not infrequently trampled to death in stampedes. As a result, the Saudi government decided to demolish it and replace it with a safer one. The new Jamarat Bridge, under construction since 2006, will allow the flow of 100,000 people per hour per story on completion. In the year 2009, three million pilgrims will be able to perform the "stoning of the devil" ritual every day. By the year 2015, six million pilgrims are expected to be able to cross the bridge every day; that approximates the total population of Israel.