chapter  26
10 Pages

Prince complex: narcissism and reproduction of the architectural mirror

In general, common sense would accept the idea that ‘architecture has always shaped

society’.1 Monuments, squares, streets, patterns, houses, nature, rituals and so on are

understood as elements moulding cultures and ways of life in every city. Nevertheless,

we increasingly accept the idea that architecture cannot change society. This paradox

exposes a fundamental contradiction in the epistemology of architecture. The paradox is

important, not only to delineate how an impulse of subjugating the other (a ‘prince

complex’) is implicit in the way architecture transforms abstract machines into concrete

forms, but also to reveal how a narcissistic discipline reifies subjectivities to reproduce

the field of architecture. Furthermore, it is fundamental to understand how society

reproduces itself by producing space.2 This effort aims to avoid the most common

deadlocks of the discipline: ingenuity, resignation or even protest.