I think it's important to consider some of the possible negative and positive aspects of what has become known as 'defensive architecture'. It's an ancient concept of building. Looking at the reasons it has been used historically may shed some light on these pros and cons.
Ockman sought to uncover the ways in which the built environment stimulates emotions in visitors, a phenomenon which, according to her, emerged by the mid-twentieth century, when buildings tended to become spectacle-buildings.
Reflecting on the aspect of spectacle from a different angle, Douglas Spencer compared the ideologically driven “dreamworlds“ of the cold-war era, ranging from Stalin’s monumental subway stations in Moscow to recent transit spaces. Spencer concluded that the contemporary turn towards austere and optimised designs does not mark the disappearance of dream-forms. It is in fact a continuation of the production of persuasive atmospheres with different means. Smooth and seamless surfaces enable a re-enchantment of the neoliberal maxim of production, which is based on flexibility, mobility, and self-optimisation. In relation to the above, Nina Power noted that putative public spaces constitute the realm in which governments define and police mass or group subjects, hereby suggesting that we are not just living in a reality of increasing individualisation but one that is still deeply structured by (post-)Foucaultian mechanisms of surveillance and control.
Could architecture, instead of just catering to those desires, channel them in a way that counters their susceptibility to agitational tendencies? Even with the assumption that the production of the built environment is always an outcome of multiple negotiations and the economics, and therefore to an extent unable to actualise radical critique, unbuilt design proposals– thanks to the possible “virality“ of their imaginary– might still be an effective tool for subversion. For instance, Estudio 3.14’s proposal for a Barragán-inspired version of Trump’s Mexico border wall found a visual form for the absurdity of a project which instigates, apart from a reign of terror, the illusion to reverse globalisation and return to a state of great national security and social prosperity.