The Laws of Foreign Buildings: Flat Roofs and Minarets

Guggenheim, Michael. 2010. The Laws of Foreign Buildings: Flat Roofs and Minarets. Social & Legal Studies, 19(4), pp. 441-460. ISSN 0964-6639 [Article]

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This article looks at how building codes and zoning laws mediate the relationship between foreign building types and their uses. The article is based on insights from actor-network theory and analyzes buildings as quasi-technologies. It draws on two case studies in Switzerland. The first looks at the introduction of flat roofs along with modern architecture in the 1920s that led to the introduction of building codes in Ascona. The second is contemporary: it looks at the disputes about the right of Muslims to add minarets to prayer spaces that eventually led to an initiative to ban minarets altogether. In each of the cases I show how the building code mediates the travelling element and the associated lifestyle of the implicated groups and leads to a new definition of what those building types are. The law emerges as an important mediator of building types because it constantly shifts building types as being defined as material or social.

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Date Deposited:

28 May 2012 15:33

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:33

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