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Albert Speer is one of the most infamous architects in history. During his time working for the Nazi Party he was responsible for designing the Reich Chancellery and the Zeppelinfeld Stadium in which the Nuremberg rallies took place, as well as being in charge of Germany’s war production during the Second World War and having responsibility for the plan to reconstruct Berlin as Germania. Yet by emphasising his detachment from the general conditions in which he was working, he was able to avoid the death sentence after the war.

While his is an extreme example, it offers a compelling jumping off point to explore the wider issue of an architect’s responsibility for the wider system that they work in. Moving from mid-20th Century Germany to the present day, this episode explores the specific role certain architects have played in developing the stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Here, gross violations of human rights and international labour law throw up serious questions about the moral ramifications of designing projects in such a country. How can architects balance the benefit of bringing a smooth, shiny new project against the human cost required to produce it?

— Thomas Rogers works as a freelance journalist, editor and translator in Berlin, often for SPIEGEL International.

— Nicholas McGeehan is a Gulf researcher who has worked at Human Rights Watch as the Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates researcher and at Mafiwasta, an organisation for workers’ rights in the United Arab Emirates, where he was also director.

This episode was directed by Charlie Clemoes / the Failed Architecture team

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