# LIBERTY SQUARE /// The Tremendous Power of Space
I clearly won’t reinvent the wheel with this article but I thought that I should share a strong architectural experience I encountered last Saturday. The working group at Occupy Wall Street I am part of, Education and Empowerment, and more specifically The Nomadic University (more on that very soon !) was invited to the New School as we would be provided with a classroom for us. The President of the New School, David E. Van Zandt seems indeed to be tremendously supporting the movement and wanted to be able to help one way or another (a full day of teach-in was organized on Saturday).
Nonetheless this generosity, a lot of people in the group including myself experienced the violent power of architecture as rarely before. It would seem pretty obvious to anybody that having ideas as a group of people in public space does not happen in the way than in a classroom. However, experiencing it is another thing: I have been writing a lot about the hurtful inherent characteristics of architecture’s physicality but I very rarely felt it that violently. We usually gather in the public space visible on the picture above, in a sort of open atrium often crossed over by pedestrians and the fact of having a working group meeting in that space is fundamentally expressing the openness and the generosity of the Occupy Wall Street movement. On the other hand, being in a class room on the 6th floor of an academic institution put us back in a very well known situation of a secretive detention of knowledge doubtless and closed on itself. Architecture changes the way we think and act. Walls have ears…and we certainly feel this way when we are in a closed environment. Self-censorship occurs and we find ourselves embarrassed to waggle our fingers as a sign of approval as we do on Liberty Square…
Liberty Square and its “cousins” around the world are places of production of knowledge. Not an academic one that can be peremptorily declared as correct or incorrect, but rather the formation of a collective knowledge which joins a theoretical background with a continuous experience of the real. The space in which such an alchemy occurs is never innocent and the issue might be that those who understands that the best are the ones who produce the spaces of alienation like the classroom or the prison.