One goal of this blog is to demonstrate how political -and sometimes military- strategy are embodied in design that do not always explicit them. That is not necessarily to say that the whole built environment has been drawn and built by an evil transcendental power to oppress its subjects (although sometimes that is the case) but rather that design is always involved within broader political mechanisms that forces it to take position.
Take a highway for example. Nothing more usual for many of us. In an old article, I was already quoting thinkers (N.Chomsky & P.Galison) who were interpreting it respectively as an economical catalyst for the car industry and a territorial strategy to spread resources during the cold war. The photos and videos included in this article brings another aspect of highways’ weaponization. In march 1984, NATO organized an exercise in West Germany to plan for potential emergency operations in case of open conflict against the Soviet Union. Army aircrafts, including a transport C130 Hercules (see further below) and an A-10 Thunderbolt II jet (see above), landed and a piece of highway that had been designed specifically to fulfill this potential function. Of course, it would be inaccurate to attribute the function of highways exclusively to their potential weaponization, however, it would be just as much inaccurate to ignore the part of their design that has been voluntarily militarized.
District B13 Ultimatum, directed by Patrick Alessandrin (2009)
After a photographic and an historical interpretation of what I called for this series’ purposes, Fortress Paris, this third part introduces its cinematographic (literal) adaptation of this topic. The film Banlieue 13 (District B-13) and its sequel Banlieue 13 Ultimatum materializes to the extreme, the policies of exclusion of the Parisian proletarian suburbs. In these movies, the suburbs are surrounded by a high wall which leave the inside population to its own fate in a similar way than the film Escape from New York created by John Carpenter in 1981 in which Manhattan was walled, thus imprisoning its criminal inhabitants.
In this interpretation the suburbs incarnate a perfect example of Michel Foucault’s notion of heterotopia (see previous article and the cinematographic series). It is the other space, delimited with access filters and which applies its specific rules different from the milieu that surrounds it. Similarly to many institutional heterotopias, the suburban one does not leave any choice to its inhabitants to leave it through the militarization of its border. Just like the psychiatric hospital or the prison (one might add the school and the factory to a certain extent), it thus constitutes an authoritarian heterotopia and acts as a mechanism of control for society.
In a less ‘spectacular’ aesthetics but with a more solid and touching scenario/directing/acting, I cannot not recommend Mathieu Kassovitz’s first film La Haine (1995) in which the walls are not as visible but evidently exist.
Following the last article about Fortress Paris, I would like to introduce the book Paris sous Tension (Paris under tension) written and edited by Eric Hazan, director of one of my very favorite publishers, La Fabrique. The book is written in French, and I will quote extensive excerpts in this article but I will also try to summarize in English their object. Its various chapters explore Paris from 1814 to its contemporary era -the book was published in 2011- through the narrative of a continuous conflict between the intelligentsia who are designing the city associated with its means to maintain the order on the one hand, and the proletariat who has to survive and empower itself despite this urban organization. In this regard, it can be compared to the more recent book Rebel Cities written by David Harvey and that I have been writing about in a previous article. For the purpose of this short review, I will organize the excerpts in eight small chapters that are not related to the book’s own organization:
This article is the first one of a trio which will investigate the architectural elements that makes Paris, a contemporary fortress. The Boulevard Périphérique (highway ring) around it, marks its geographical limit and embodies the latter in a solid barrier of low porosity. Of course, the city walls are not as evidently militarized than its 19th century ancestor, the Thiers fortifications built in 1844 on the same route than the current Périphérique and carrying the name of the character who slaughtered the Paris Commune few decades later. However, the will of ‘defending’ Paris’ integrity against the exterior is still strong and expressed in a (barely) more subtle way. At the exception of the Western suburbs -where the highest social classes live- the city is very difficult to access from its surroundings thus materializing the policies of social exclusion at work in Paris.
The physical border that separates the center of the city from its suburbs is embodied not only by the Périphérique but also, on its side, by various zones differing from the simple state of no-man’s land to various zones of office buildings, malls or other non-residential program that scarify the threshold between inside and outside. In order to illustrate this buffer zone that is well-known of Parisians -at least those who have to experience it on a daily basis- I selected sixteen views (see below) from google street in which you can see how the entrance in Paris materializes. I tried to keep as a visual continuity, the small sign announcing Paris like in every towns in France. By doing so, I wanted to insist on the graphic contrast between the function of this same sign (its welcoming status) and its actual environment which constitutes a gate -and that is indeed their official name- to the Fortress Paris.
See part 2: Paris sous Tension by Eric Hazan
and part 3: The Suburban Heterotopia
Rikers Island in New York City
Prison Map is a project developed by Josh Begley, a graduate student studying Interactive Telecommunications at New York University. Thanks a small script and geo-coordinates, he obtained a google earth snapshot of each of the 4,916 incarceration facilities in the United States. Let’s recall here that a bit less than 2.5 millions people are living in prison in this country. Such a project illustrates therefore a sort of hidden urbanism in which 0.8% of the American population live for a given time. Of course, these photographs are interesting to observe the architecture of incarceration, but more importantly in my opinion, is the relationship they develop with their direct environment as they illustrate a geography of exclusion.
Many of these facilities use the obvious strategy of remoteness to engage this will of exclusion. In this regard, from the cartographic point of view, they often ironically appear similar to European palaces with well-ordered classical plans. Others are situated on islands (like Rikers in New York) or piers in order to use water as a buffer zone between the included society and the excluded one. Finally, others are situated in the center of some cities like the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago (see previous post) or the Brooklyn Detention Complex using the verticality of their architecture to implement the exclusionary status.
The page Prison Map is only displaying 700 facilities for convenience reasons but the 4,216 others can be seen by following this link. Josh Begley also have another page entitled Prison Count which establishes a photographic inventory of California State Adult Prisons. In addition, you can also consult an old article about the book Forms of Constraint
The following pictures are extracted from the Prison Map project:
This image is an excerpt from the short film The Road to Jerusalem created by artist Jeremy Hutchison. The movie shows him riding his bike in Ramallah in direction to Jerusalem. When approaching the sadly famous separation barrier, the biker seems not to see it and continue his route as if the road was still open like few years ago. That is when the wall unfolds all its literal violence as he crashes into it in a strong manifestation of the border. Rarely an image has been so literal in what I have been calling the violence of the line, this line on the map which materializes into a wall and splits two milieus. The wall, as the paradigmatic architectural component illustrates the hurtful power contained by architecture.
The Palestinian Archipelago: Salfit (drawn by the author)
I recently had the chance to write a short article for the Mexican magazine Arquine which was dedicating its last dossier to the topic of displacements. I therefore wrote a text about the metaphorical archipelago created by the fragmentation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in a multitude of islands which makes the Palestinian sovereignty applicable on only a small part of its territory. Some of the funambulist’s readers might find it redundant of what I have been writing in the past, in which case, I would recommend the only reading of the two last paragraphs that brings something slightly more new in my discourse. This new part includes the consideration for internal social issues encountered by the Palestinian people who sees within itself the formation of a new bourgeoisie which ratifies, through its way of life, the occupier’s language.
Here is the list of texts in Arquine 59‘s dossier (both in English and Spanish in the printed version):
· La hospitalidad comienza en casa (Deborah Gans)
- El archipiélago palestino: una cartografía metafórica de los territorios ocupados (Léopold Lambert)
- El recuerdo es una construcción que se desplaza (Ana Valdés y Alicia Migdal)
- Albergue para migrantes: un espacio humanitario de (Thomas Weiss)
THE PALESTINIAN ARCHIPELAGO: A Metaphorical Cartography of the Occupied Territories.
By Léopold Lambert
Walled States, Waning Sovereignty is a recent very interesting book (2010) written by Professor Wendy Brown and published at the excellent Zone Books. As the book’s title implies, the author starts her thesis by the assessment that the various walls that materializes some of the borders of the world (Mexico-USA, Morocco-Spain, Bangladesh-India, Pakistan-India, Iraq-Saudi Arabia and to a certain extent, the Palestinian occupied territories and Israel) are the result of decreasing territorial sovereignty in the age of globalization. As we will see further in my review, she attributes to the notion of sovereignty, theological characteristics in the transcendental power that it applies on its subjects:
Sovereignty is a theological political formulation and formation that aims, inter alia, to subordinate and contain the economic and to detach political life from the demands or imperatives of the economic. That this aspiration is ultimately unrealizable does not prevent it from becoming a potent material fiction with significant effects during its reign. (P58)
In her interpretation, sovereignty is thus a form of deity and walls would therefore constitutes temples dedicated to the celebration of the memory of the former omnipotence of this theological power:
Extracted from The Insurgent Barricade (University of California Press, 2010.)
Few weeks ago, I eventually finished the (long) paper I was referring to in an article about barricades in January (see also a more recent one about the book The Insurgent Barricade). This paper will be published this summer, but until then I can continue to disseminate some references that helped me to write it.
For the last few years, I have been writing many articles (see this one for example) that involved the revolutionary tactics elaborated by Auguste Blanqui during the 19th century in France. His Esquisse de la marche à suivre dans une prise d’armes à Paris is a clandestine manual written in 1866, which explains very precisely how to organize barricades and fortify a whole block of housing building to transform it into a favorable battlefield during an insurrection (see previous article including an excerpt that I translated). What I did not evoke enough, is his ‘anta-ego’ (sorry for the neologism), Marshall Thomas Bugeaud who wrote a similar manual eighteen years earlier, evoking similar tactics, yet this time, in favor of the army in charge of the insurrections’ suppression. Bugeaud made himself famous in the late 1830′s for defeating the last resistant force against Algeria’s colonization: Abd El Kader and his fantastic army: the smala. For 123 years, Algeria will then suffer from the French colonization and Algiers will have to accept the existence of a square named after Thomas Bugeaud (as well as a statue of him). His manual, entitled La Guerre des Rues et des Maisons (War of Streets and Houses) describes the various strategies that a military platoon needed to apply in order to suppress the rebellion. Instead of a grouped frontal attack against a barricade as it was usually practiced by the army (which was not used to fight in an urban context), he advocated for the fragmentation of the army’s body into several little groups attacking from every side, digging their way from the neighboring buildings, wall by wall, to eventually surround and destroy the barricade. Despite its ingenuousness (let’s not forget that the 19th century’s war strategies were still entirely based on a very hierarchical scheme), those tactics were poorly received as it implied too much autonomy for those small groups of soldiers who were maybe fighting against their own family and necessitated to be always supervised by the instances of command.
Prison San Vittore – Milan (built in 1880)
Pedro Hernández (La Periferia Domestica) was kind enough to send me a link towards a site of Manchester school of architecture that traced a concise timeline of the Panopticon prison both as an idea and as an architecture. The following documents are using the same existing examples giving by this site. It is interesting to observe in this regard that the post-revolution prison in UK and France shifted from the dark dungeon like La Bastille to the enlighten panopticon. The panopticon, formalized by Jeremy Bentham has been then conceptualized as the paradigmatic scheme of the disciplinary society by Foucault. However this society does not apply to the one we currently live in the Western world (see a previous article about the society of control). Architects should probably get cautious not to attribute to the panopticon the monopoly of the architecture of power as the latter applies itself in it only via the mean of vision. In fact, the phenomenological application of power will never be as strong as the material one, and the solutions to escape or deceive the former are not as easy than for the latter.
In this regard, see the series about cinematographic escape on BLDGBLOG (1, 2, 3 & 4)
See also a previous article I wrote about BIG’s immanent panopticon (in opposition to the transcendental one described in this article)
To go further read the good book Forms of Constraint by Norman Johnston
One should not restrain Gaza’s economy to the simple clandestinity, and by extension, one should certainly not assume that every inhabitant of Gaza is involved in the resistance against the Israeli blockade they have to suffer from. That is to say that the photos in this article do not depict the common life that people of Gaza experiences every day. However, such economy does exists and allows the importation of goods from Egypt which eases the lack of supplies in the Gaza strip. The means of transportation between Egypt and Gaza are insured by the several tunnels set up below the border and the no-construction zone set-up by the Israeli army in which the IDF bulldozers regularly comes to dig the earth. On the contrary of the tunnels of Cu Chi (Vietnam) that I briefly evoked in a recent article, those tunnels are strictly dedicated to the flux of goods between one territory and another in order to resist at an economical level. It is well known that the fruit international exportation from Gaza suffers from the disloyal competition against Israeli products. The Palestinian production needs to transit via Israel to reach other countries and it often spent several days at Ben Gurion airport -Gaza’s airport having been destroyed in 2002- before being transported out of the region, thus partially loosing quality. The internal economy is therefore very important in the Palestinian region which suffers from a 45% unemployment rate precisely because of the blockade.
New German Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia by FAR Frohn&Rojas (2009)
For the second time, I find the architectural behavior of FAR (Frohn & Rojas) highly debatable. The first time was when they started to sell in series their plans of the Wall House they designed in 2004 to be reproduced anywhere in the world. This second time focuses on the proposal they made in 2009 for the new German Embassy in Belgrade in the context of a competition.
Their project registers itself in the embrace of a paranoia as they write it in their short introduction:
The 21st century is an era of perceived terrorist and ecological threat which sends architecture to the frontline and the city into defensive mode. The embassy building lies at the core of this threat and embodies an apparently inevitable contradiction between being both welcoming and at the same under constant security alert.
However, this paranoia does not want to appear as such and needs in their opinion to be camouflaged in what they call friendly/disguised defense. Their facade is therefore composed of an aluminum foam screen that would prevent the building from being too much affected by a potential explosion coming from the outside. FAR is thus arguing for the delivery of a new architectural aesthetic which hides its militarized function in a contrast that would not miss to enrage Slavoj Zizek and his fight against decaf coffee, beer without alcohol etc.
This project is therefore attempting to be the opposite of the fortress that constitutes the American Embassy in Baghdad which never lied on its militarization -let’s not forget that an Embassy has nothing to do with armed conflicts in the first place. However, the discrepancy between FAR’s very problematic discourse and their actual architectural proposition makes this project interesting as one might notice that they did not completely managed to erase its defensiveness aspect (see the last image below). The facade is in fact presenting an aggressive appearance that cannot be tarnished by the camouflaged paranoia of its textual description.
The consideration for a potential partial destruction of the building is a rare thing and as a direct product of paranoia applied to architecture, one might be able to question for better of for worse this discipline.
Mangold Tom and Penycate John, The Tunnels of Cu Chi. New York: Random House, 1985
The Tunnels of Cu Chi is a book written by Tom Mangold & John Penycate in 1985 focusing on a specific aspect of the Vietnam war which lead the U.S. Army to loose it. The technological and human asymmetry was nevertheless striking but such subterranean complexes allowed the Viet Cong to organize a strong resistance against the invading army. The ability for the earth to change its solidity characteristics was fundamental in the elaboration of a physical mean of defense:
The soil of Cu Chi is a mixture of sand and earth. During the rainy season it is soft like sugar, during the dry season as hard as rock. […] Such soil could stand the weight of a tank.
The U.S. Army volunteers who were exploring the discovered tunnels were named Rats. This name is not innocent as, for their psychological and physical survival they had to develop what Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari called Becoming Animal. When reading from a witness of these operations, one might even talk of a becoming matter as the bodies needed to embrace their own material composition in relationship to the material environment:
I was just an animal – we were all animals, we were dogs, we were snakes, we were dirt.
More to come about these tunnels (involving Sartre, Negarestani and Kobo Abe) once my essay about the landscapes of resistance will be published…
Abu Dis, Judith s., December 2003
The Israeli women of MachsomWatch who struggle against the colonial apparatuses of movement control in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, have monitored in photos and videos the physicality of their government/army’s politics and thus assembled an important data base. Their Israeli citizenship allows them indeed to observe more closely the actions of the military as well as the implementation of various obstacles that have been conceived in the unique goal to administrate and disturb the Palestinian daily lives. Their presence is also used as a regulator to monitor and report the disrespectful if not violent behaviors of soldiers and settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The apparatuses monitored below are all common in their design that filters, controls or simply prevents Palestinians’ movement by imposing a physical violence on their bodies. The wall, in all its forms is paradigmatic of such violence but so are the various turnstiles that must be experienced several times at every pedestrian checkpoints. Those could be easily confused with torture machines and the Israeli soldiers in charge of those same checkpoints often us them as a sort of prison threshold. In fact, they would regularly lock their turning characteristics in such a way that a person remains prisoner for few seconds or few minutes from their metal bars before being able to pass the checkpoint.
I am aware of my own redundancy; however it remains difficult to ignore the force of architecture in those photos (see below) when designed and used in a military and colonial administrative purpose, thus providing what we could in a tragic oxymoron: the ordinary violence.
The following links refers to two different galleries of photos of those apparatuses on the MachsomWatch website:
Photograph by Yann Arthus-Bertrand
I recently rediscovered a collection of documents that Martin Le Bourgeois and myself had collected and produced, almost four years ago, about a very interesting group of housing buildings in Paris’ 18th arrondissement (district). Situated at the intersection of the rue Eugene Sue and the rue Simart these blocks had been built in the second part of the 19th century during Haussmann’s transformations of Paris in order to host 10,000 workers. I described them above as a group of housing buildings but what really struck us back then was the fact that this group appeared actually as a unique built mass, incised by two streets and punched by a multitude of more or less narrow courtyards. What also appeared to us is that this mass’ area was almost exactly the same of a more well-known compact mass of buildings that the low social class transformed into a proletarian citadel: the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong (see previous article and the fantastic section). Although the Parisian citadel is probably one of the densest blocks of the city, the Walled City used to be five time denser until it was destroyed in 1993.
Just like the Walled City has been associated for a long time with its own myth in which the police did not want to enter it and was hosting all kind of crooks, clandestine and other pirates – in reality it seems that this reputation was usurped – one could imagine a fictitious re-reading of Paris’ history in which this block could have functioned as an autonomous entity with its 10,000 inhabitants -during the bloodshed of the attack of the Commune by the Versailles troops in 1871 for example – and resists to the various forces of suppression by the use of this architecture’s defensiveness and labyrinthine organization of space. Unfortunately, the reality is somehow more prosaic and nothing like that happened. The Citadel is now subjected to Paris’ real estate (although the neighborhood is very far from being one of the most expensive in Paris), the density decreased and the blocks have been divided in individual lots, thus suppressing any form of potential community within it.
This concludes the first part of this article, a second one explores the depth of the multitude of courtyards which populate the citadel.
PLAYGROUND Harskamp/Reek by Jeroen Hofman (2011)
Socks Studio just released an interesting article about the Potemkin village of Marnehuizen in the North of Netherlands, which was built inside the military base Marnewaard in order to simulate and train military attacks in urban environment. This fake village is one more on the list of training settlements that trains the various armies of the world (see this (too) short previous article); however, this one seems to be dedicated to a potential suppression internal to the Netherlands as the architectural typology seems to indicate.
This leads me to a fundamental problem for architects that echoes directly the recent debate that the Funambulist has been hosting this week. In fact, the more an architecture is conform to the archetype used in this kind of training village, the more the military action -that was precisely trained to operate within this archetype- gains in efficiency. Uniformity implies an indubitable potential of control whereas difference reduces legibility, and this way also decreases the risk of capture of space. One can even think on playing on those archetypes to develop a strategy of decoy that participate even more actively to forms of resistance against a military/police state. What is valid for architecture is also valid for urban design as we have been exploring it many times on this platform (as an example see the comparative Manhattan/Casbah).
I recently wrote an article doing the inventory of resources one can find about this very special weaponized architecture that constitutes the barricade; that was before I read the book The Insurgent Barricade (University of California Press, 2010.) written by Professor Mark Traugott as a series of (chronological) essays around this notion. M.Traugott, in an obsessive will for historians to determine an invention date for each technology, – as he recognizes it – considers that the Parisian revolt against the King Henri III in 1588 can be consider as such for the barricade. The word comes in fact from the old French word barrique (barrel in English) which depicts the original element – one might actually say that it was the chain – composing those defensive street obstacles.
As I wrote in the previous article, the 19th century will be the era during which barricades will be the most regularly and efficiently used by insurgents. In this regard M.Traugott’s book dedicates an important part to the various European insurrections in 1848 started by what could be called the third French Revolution: Munich, Vienna, Naples, Prague etc. followed indeed the insurgent movement by using barricades as well. One can also look at the various maps of the book including the one below that illustrate the incredible proliferation of barricades during the two revolutions of 1830 and 1848 in the narrow streets of the center of Paris. This map expresses well the locality of such architecture that was mostly built-up and defended by people living around it, thus creating a new form of social space shared and negotiated by its participants.
The book also include a very useful chapter ‘The Function of the Barricade’ that allies recurrent functions with more anecdotal ones like the brief invention of mobile counter-barricades by the suppressive power in 1848 for example (see image above).
Barricade during the Paris Commune in 1871
I am currently writing an essay about “landscapes of insurgencies” across which the architectural typology of the barricade is, of course, predominant. This post will not be elaborating about this topic, since I am doing it in this essay, but rather gives a set of references specifically for the example of Paris from the revolution of 1830 to the students and workers general strike in May 1968. Paris is indeed probably the most documented example of such militarized architecture but barricades have been built and used in many cities (Barcelona, Mexico, Warsaw, Riga etc.) around the world during the 19th and 20th century.
This week’s guest writer’s essay brings us about four hundreds years ago around an architecture treatise written by Jacques Perret of Chambéry during the French Renaissance. This essay’s author is my friend Morgan Ng who gives us a preview of his research he is currently overtaking for his PhD at Harvard. Beyond his scholar rigor, Morgan interprets J.Perret’s work in a very poetic attempt to mix religion/politics, space and sound. The Textual-Sonic Landscapes that he evokes are in fact a construction based on the political context J.Perret, as a Calvinist was experiencing at his time, and his mysterious drawings of citadels in which a layer of fortification is composed by nothing else than the words of a psalm (see the picture above). This confusion of signified, signifier and mysticism has something that intuitively makes me think of another religion, Judaism, and more specifically to the Kaballah. However, since Morgan attaches more importance to the sort of incantation of the psalm as a sound -the psalm being a song- than its written version, it also makes me relate to an episode of the Bible (which I wrote about a long time ago): the battle of Jericho. In fact, in this story the sound was not what protected the city but rather what destroyed its fortifications. This apparent contradiction appears to me for what words are, weapons that can be used defensively or offensively.
I am now doing what I do best, digressions but Morgan introduces himself his text in the following text, and is even kind enough to compare his work with mine for their similarity of envisioning architecture as inherently political, if not militarized. If this thesis is accurate, it is thus not surprising that we are able to observe it for any historical era.
The Textual-Sonic Landscapes of Jacques Perret’s Des Fortifications et Artifices
By Morgan Ng
It’s exciting to contribute to the dialogue here because—despite our divergent historical interests—I feel a strong intellectual kinship with the editor of this blog. Rendered in striking graphic form and rife with modernist literary references, the editor’s recent design research on architecture in the West Bank explores the full range of oppressive and emancipatory potentials in an aesthetics of militarization. We must of course heed the warning (pace Baudrillard) that an aestheticization of war runs the risk of dulling the senses to the reality of violence. Yet it’s equally disempowering—especially for the disempowered—to reduce this violence to the mechanics of technical reason. War from the beginning is aesthetic: for the complicit it’s mediated by political propaganda; for the traumatized victim, it’s fought on a psychological, as well as a physical, battlefield. If our poetic relation to war forms our escapist habits, I believe it also bears the potential to catalyze emancipatory action.
It has been now three weeks that the occupation of Liberty Square in Wall Street New York started and after two weekends of confrontation with the New York Police Department, a small reflection on weaponized urban design seems appropriate. The massive arrests (about seven hundreds) of indignants by the NYPD on the Brooklyn Bridge this Saturday 1st October consecrated the highly controllable characteristic of Manhattan’s grid plans (which obviously includes its bridges). In fact, it was fairly easy for the Police to allow the demonstrators crowd to engage onto the Brooklyn Bridge and then stop them in the center of it in order to arrest them one by one.
The situation of Liberty Square itself is not really that much more defensible for the occupiers who is continuously surrounded by the NYPD without any form of possible retreat nor protection in case of a potential assault. This situation is almost applicable to the ensemble of Manhattan that offers an absolute control to the dominant force of an asymmetric conflict.
On the contrary, a form of urbanism that has been effectively active in the history of revolts, revolutions and wars of independence is embodied by the traditional north African city, the Medina in Tunis or more expressively the Casbah in Algiers. In fact, from 1954 to 1962, the resistance against the French colonizers nurtured within this old labyrinthine district of the Algerian capital city. The easiest witnesses to gather here to illustrate such a relationship between urban guerrilla and the Casbah’s physicality consists in two movies, Pépé le Moko by Julien Duvivier (1937 almost twenty years before the beginning of the Algerian War of Independence) and the very powerful The Battle of Algiers by Gillo Pontecorvo (1966, four years after the Algerian Independence and forbidden in France until 1971). The latter, indeed, shows how the resistance is facilitated by the rhizome of a multitude of narrow curvilinear streets and stairs added to an additional layer of connecting roofs in a very dense urban fabric. On the contrary, the French paratroopers in charge of the suppression, are often lost and every now and then fall into a trap by insurgents who are still in complete skill, material and human minority compared to the organized institutional army. Eventually the Lieutenant-Colonel Mathieu, in charge of the operation, will manage to suppress the rebellion almost to the end (Algiers rebellion will be replaced by a provincial resistance that would eventually lead to the independence) by adapting the heavy army into a more “swarming” counter-guerrilla force.