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One of the most essential virtues we may assign to architecture is the ability to reveal the unconscious of power. What power refuses to say, or what power attempts to conceal in the inscrutable weaving of political language, is revealed in the works it builds. “Spatial images are the dreams of society,” wrote Siegfried Kracauer, in 1930. “Wherever the hieroglyphics of any spatial image are deciphered, there the basis of social reality presents itself.”
One such hieroglyphic is the plan for a shopping center at Taksim Gezi Park, Istanbul, forcefully advanced by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last year. Understanding the plan as a political image helps explain how a seemingly local disagreement — the proposed demolition of the park and its redevelopment as a shopping mall — escalated into a global event, in late May and early June 2013, when protesters occupied Taksim Square and were violently evicted by riot police. By mid-June, more than 3 million people across Turkey had joined solidarity rallies; thousands were injured, five dead.