86223 Spectacle, Refuge

Delia Ngay


“The notion if the nation as a home, as a domestic space, relies structurally on its intimate opposition to the notion of the foreign. ‘Domestic’ has a double meaning that links the space of the familial household to that of the nation, by imagining both in opposition to everything outside the geographic and conceptual border of the home.” (Amy Kaplan, Homeland Insecurities: Transformation of Language and Space)


This studio will develop the existing typology of the embassy, in particular, the HOM residence to address the notion of refuge and territory. The residence will not only act as a platform for “ceremonial and social occasions” but also a place to display the act of residence.


Resident Embassy

The right to send, receive and maintain a permanent resident ambassador was seen as a test of sovereignty for a state after the 15th Century. And up until recent years, the typology of an Embassy remained largely residential (the need for other administrative functions led to the split of the residence and the chancellery). The residence is still largely used to host important diplomatic functions, and it has in history been the backdrop to political deals/ symbolism:


-U.S. General Douglas MacArthur received Emperor Hirotito in 1945 in the living room of the U.S. Tokyo Embassy, after the Japanese surrender that ended WWII


-U.S. Prague embassy Petschek House used as a refuge for dissidents during the cold war – writers, poets, playwrights like Vaclav Havel would be invited to dinners, receptions, and concerts providing opportunity for otherwise illegal meetings (Elizabeth Gill Lui, Building Diplomacy: The architecture or American Embassies)



National Spectacle

The highly public debate between the then leader of the Soviet nation Nikita Khrushchev and the VP of the US Richard Nixon at the American Exhibition in Moscow exemplified the notion of domestic space as cross cultural manifestation. This “kitchen debate” took the technology of the modern kitchen to represent the type of political system that produced it. Modern Architecture together with the new media became an effective tool for propaganda (Leah Bendavid-Val, Propaganda and Dreams), “Cold War anxieties were masked by endlessly repeated images of a picture-perfect domestic environment” (Beatriz Colomina, Domesticity at War).

“glimpses of the usa” (1959 film)

“Glimpses of the USA” (1959 film) – Eames Office