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.