Submitted by Kishwar Rizvi:
PLATFORM is a digital venue for public conversations about architecture, the built environment, and landscape. It features timely short essays organized into eight sections—Conversations, Finding, House Histories, Opinion, Photo Essay, Reading /Listening/Watching, Specifying, and Teaching/Working—that serve as entry points into different realms of discussion, and address different constituencies and interests. We invite writers working in diverse regions across the world and from across multiple professions and disciplines. We are committed to publishing bilingual articles, in order to bring timely and exciting new research to as many people as possible.
PLATFORM, explicitly outward facing, is a work of public humanities, designed to allow writers in diverse fields to shed light on a range of contemporary concerns. As a digital forum, it leverages the capabilities of new media to facilitate this conversation. PLATFORM is broad in perspective and interdisciplinary in orientation. We want to attract novices as well as old hands. We are not a closed or finite group. Unsolicited work is welcome. We value the diversity of opinions about how we view, read, experience, and engage with the built and natural landscapes. To submit an article or pitch an idea, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to any of us, we’re happy to help develop pitches, vet ideas, make suggestions.
Kishwar Rizvi, Production Editor.
Swati Chattopadhyay, Marta Gutman, Zeynep Kezer, Matthew Lasner, Acquisitions Editors.
Sara Lopez, Min Kyung Lee, Fernando Lara Luiz, Mira Waits, Contributing Editors.
Here is an example of what we do:
Kabul in Two Contexts
On August 29, 2021, the United States launched rapid drone strikes on a site in Kabul, allegedly in retaliation for the suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai Airport three days earlier. By September 17th, the Pentagon was admitting that it was a tragic miscalculation. Instead of an Islamic State in Khorasan operative, they killed ten civilians, among them seven young children. These horrific events make clear that technology has made urban warfare, although long in use, deadlier than ever. The articles in last week’s issue of PLATFORM present Kabul in two very different contexts – as a modern city experiencing architectural development in the late twentieth century, and also an example of abstract legal calculations in contemporary urban warfare.
In “Modern Kabul: Legacies of Polish Architects in Afghanistan,” Muheb Esmat delves into the history of Kabul’s modern architecture. The city’s first master plan, presented in 1965, was heavily based on Modernist principles, partially fueled by municipal leaders’ desire to conceal traditional architecture. Among the new buildings constructed in this period was the Hajhda Manzila, a government tower which, despite its monumental presence in the city, has an obscure history. Esmat finds that the building was designed by a well-known Polish architect, Andrej Riabow, who along with Mieczysław Wrobel designed many other structures in Kabul. Their buildings situate Kabul’s architecture in a larger narrative of exchange that took place between the Eastern Bloc and post-colonial states, including Afghanistan. Esmat argues that there is a larger story to be told about Kabul’s urban development and that its modern past might serve as a lesson for the city’s future.
In “Law and Urban Warfare,” Craig Jones sheds light on the rise of military lawyers over the past few decades of American military presence in West Asia. These legal professionals, whom Jones calls “war lawyers,” are shaping the modern battlespace in ways we are only just beginning to understand. Ever since the Vietnam War, during which catastrophic military strikes led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians, war lawyers have worked to ensure that strikes are within the bounds of International Humanitarian Law. Yet their role has been complicated by the relatively recent phenomenon of drone strikes and remote targeting, as witnessed most recently in Kabul. Despite a suite of precision technologies and strategies that aim to minimize harm to civilians, many military strikes in cities are still deeply destructive—not only due to the increasingly compressed (and thus accident-prone) decision-making process, but also because the laws of war do not always serve to constrain violence. In a world that legitimizes military operations, war lawyers share responsibility for who lives and dies in the increasingly urban spaces of modern war.