December 21, 2008

Mockitecture on Flickr

An oversized parking meter...

I found this gem by dialing up the internets. (Which we all know is a series of tubes.) My congratulations to OmarOmar, you have a true eye for mockitecture.

December 12, 2008

Revisiting PostModernism

The Architectural League of New York is releasing a series of Podcasts, titled "Revisiting PostModernism" It is an in depth look at some of the most serious practitioners of Postmodernism, including Charles Jencks and James Stirling. This is an up close look back at what the movement was really about. [more...]

December 9, 2008

Poetry Jam of the Week

Here is some poetry:

Butterscotch, Philip Semore Hoffman, Yoga toga, Chinese Ear Wax, Shards of glass, the Eiffel Tower, drunk pirate, Moon walk on Mars. Sarah Palin Hockey puck lobotomy, fat man on a camel, Where's Waldo Where's Waldo, MOON PIE MOON PIE

December 7, 2008

Subversion: Immersion, Cranbrook Version

This is an example of some great mockitecture. It is a project by a student for the Campus of Cranbrook Academy. There are many layers to the project, the most obvious being a floating brick in the sky. Bricks are very heavy, so to loft a brick up on the air and have it float there is subversive to start with. Usually, heavier elements are thought to be placed in the ground. Much like the work of Sverre Fehn, the giant brick in the sky breaks with expected convention, a kind of second glance architecture. It is about architecture, but it also utilizes everyday shapes (bricks) to make ironic gestures which can be interpreted on some level by non-architects.

The next ironic gesture is that of a truss in the ground. Many would say that is absurdism. (not as a compliment) The truss is just the image. The sloped columns that make up the image of the truss in the ground are completely structurally rational. The fact that a huge truss is sitting in the ground would be quite a sight.

When you strip away the heavy-feeling materials from the brick, we realize that the structure makes sense. The treatments and detailing are meant to subvert this inherit structural logic.

Truss in ground, brick in sky. Makes sense to me.

December 5, 2008


Ever since mis-hearing someone who was speaking about "Shadow Casters" (i.e. spot lights), I have been intrigued at the thought of a Shadow Catcher.  Perhaps it is just the mystery of not being able to define what a shadow catcher is/looks like, that has peaked my interest.

Maybe shadow catchers are walls haphazardly placed in the landscape?  Or, maybe they are massive holes...crevasses in the landscape?  Glass fronted buildings facing the sun seem to consume shadows originating from surrounding buildings and sidewalk activity...maybe they are shadow catchers?  Who knows?  Perhaps the eWorld will help me out with this one.  Any ideas?

November 29, 2008

Bright Lights, Big City

Following up on the last post, here are some tunes for your enjoyment while you browse the mockitecture.

November 27, 2008

City as Sex

Freud would say that sex is at the root of all subconscious.  He would also say that subconscious is at the root of all human activity. If the city is the construction of such human activity, then sex is at the root of all cities. Everything from storefronts full of scantily clad models to buses taking people to eventually fulfill their conquest for sex are the pulse of the city. Is this a by-product of consumer society, where advertising has taken over as organizer? Probably...but sex sells. Even our cars are based on bodies and sex. The car is adventurous, the city is romantic.

Most of our buildings are inexpressive of their interiors. This lack of transparency not-so-accidental facadery represent some of humankind's most sexual urges for privacy. What goes on behind the curtains in the windows of those buildings? That is not for us to know. The construct of the city as millions of private areas is City as Sex.FAT's Semi Dysfunctional House explores these themes about what goes on in the private sections (of a house in this case.) The public areas are designed with the ultimate goal in mind: privacy.

In his book Building Sex, Aaron Betsky outlines the inplications gender plays in creating space. Interiors and side spaces such as cafes, homes, and salons are feminine, warm sensuous spaces, while Exteriors, Streets, Public Spaces, and Monuments are cold, masculine constructions. How can we develop the ambivalent both-and of gender roles in constructing the city scape? In other words, can we have the desirable qualities of the interiors of our cafes, homes, and salons in our streets? Can irony and humor help fight the stark and violent gray of a city? What are the limits of the combative ironic warmth in the cold city? What is the cure for this cold, hostile environment that our cities have become? How does the boundary between interior and exterior, warm and cold, feminine and masculine break down?

November 26, 2008

Image as Force: Learning From Learning From Las Vegas

"Skeptical: erasure of context and denial of shared meaning"
"Ordinary: argues for the recovery of context and shared meaning through our 'ordinary' language"
In a new book, "I am a Monument," (2008, MIT Press), Aron Vinegar dispells the skeptical nature of Learning From Las Vegas. According to Vinegar, LFLV has been mischaracterized as only a "playfully ironic postmodern approach to architecture." While Venturi calls for the ordinary, there is hidden meaning within the text. The opposite of ordinary is skeptical. The extreme of skeptical is nihilism, where nothing matters. The extreme of ordinary is that everything matters, and we must do everything in our power to affect our community. While Venturi advocates the ordinary (via his preference for "Ugly-Ordinary" over "Heroic-Original"), Vinegar explores the hidden questions Venturi proposes about "the skeptical".

Vinegar describes this more serious side of LFLV:
It is a "subtle but trenchant analysis of the impact of commodity culture and media on language and architecture, and its critical role in determining how, or even if, it is possible to have a voice in talking about these effects at all."
What voice, if any, does architecture have?
"meeting the architectural implications and critical social issues of our era will require that we drop our involuted, architectural expressionism and our mistaken claim to building outside a formal language and find a formal language suited to our times."
Mockitecture deals with our times. It is not a physical representation of someone's political view, as is the case with much classical architecture. It is not a monument to wealth. It is a proactive expression, with in a context. It aknowledges its surroundings and responds to them, with a voice. The question is what does that voice sound like? How to columns become verbs, entrances become adjectives?

November 24, 2008

Buildings as Black Holes

Competition among surrounding luxury resorts and casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada has created an environment where each building attempts to "out do" their neighbor. The facade of the new Tropicana Casino in Vegas has been branded as a "WOW" experience by the architects, utilizing interactive media graphics on a glass facade to lure people into the casino. The interior rooms are, by contrast, very generic and not significantly important. The goal is to lure people in, thus creating a massive "black hole effect" on the Strip. As money continues to be pumped into the facades of such buildings, one has to wonder how far the "black hole" concept could be taken. Driven to the extreme, a superior building on the Strip would invest so much money in it's facade, that not enough money would be left for the interior, creating unsafe, and uninhabitable spaces. The very purpose of architecture - to create shelter - becomes threatened in this extreme case: luring in unsuspecting customers only to provide no way out. Black Hole Architecture.

Prada Meets the Wild West

Prada Marfa, located in the desolate West Texas landscape, off of the only major highway to cut through the area, blends advertising and art. It is a "time capsule" specifically designed to decay into the desert (through biodegradable adobe construction), responding to the dozens of decaying American frontier towns. Prada Marfa is part sculpture, part billboard, and part monument to America's consumer culture. For more images and description visit here (*image credits from linked website).

BarCode Building by Vitruvius & Sons

Yes, Vitruvius. This building is expressive of function. Literal references connect with the public, and convey messages more efficiently and directly than abstract imagery. Depending on context, this can be very useful. [more...]

November 21, 2008

The Front Lines: S U P E R S I Z E D stuff

Follies From France
I've always been fascinated with questionably large, over-scaled objects in the landscape.  They make me feel so small and unimportant::

November 20, 2008

International Competition for Inventive Architecture

International Design Competitions are the breeding grounds for ideas like mockitecture.  The International Competition for Inventive Architecture, judged by Peter Cook of Archigram, is one such competition.  This year's competition was sponsored by the nation of Cyprus.  Cypriot architecture has a rich history and is now at the center of modern Cyprus.  Politically and culturally, Cyprus is the bridge between the Middle Eastern and European people.

Two of the main traditions in contemporary Cypriot culture are coffee and backgammon.  This submission is a monument to those two cultural mainstays.  Excerpt of design intent below:
"Representing a new attempt at distinction, the return to pure form, the coffee house and public open space have been reinterpreted.  The iconic building references two activities essential to the Cypriot coffee house... coffee and backgammon.  these literal references engage and educate tourist, giving the coffeehouse new meaning.  Bouy-tables allow the open public space to reorganize itself, extending throught the beach and into the water itself."

November 19, 2008

The Front Lines: {[(r e t r o)]} fit

The Hayward Gallery, London
photographs from the 2008 Psycho Buildings Exhibition shows the roof of this brutalist building converted into a temporary lake where exploration into uncharted territory was facilitated by hand-made rafts::

November 17, 2008

DAMP: Design Art Mockitecture and Planning

This is Art Lebedev. I assume thats a person, and thats his real name. Lebedev. His work portrays the two most important themes of mockitecture: communication of culture and provocative irony (a.k.a. icons and statements).
The first example of Lebedev's work is the iconic and beautiful mac os 9 speaker icon speaker. An exemplary piece of mockitecture, it is a model for good looking iconography. The reference is there with out being to forceful. It is still legible, however, because it remains a direct image. The question is: Is it possible for an ambiguous, abstract image to retain the meaning inherit in the orginal object(s)? Can direct iconography and formal references be interesting without ambiguity?
Another of Lebedev's designs is the "Fuck the Rain" umbrella. It is a strong message delivered succintly and powerfully to the rain. I'm not sure if the rain would get it, but I do, and I think it is hysterical. From the website:
"From the rain's point-of-view"

November 14, 2008

Ricky Gervais meets Larry David

Check out this great conversation on humor and honesty from Larry David and Ricky Gervais. This is part 2 of 6.

November 11, 2008

Palin on Bloggers

After a historic and entertaining election season, Buildings Weekly is back. I chose not to cover the election, despite the McCain campaign's endless supply of material. They were begging me to post almost daily on the three ring circus that was McCain/Palin. I held back, and even pulled my knee jerk post about Palin being mockitecture. (Scary, terrible mockitecture.)

But I cannot help myself here. Apparently, Sarah Palin reffered to bloggers as "kids in pajamas." I will take offense to her insults as soon as she insults me in a complete sentence. Until then, no more Palin references, no matter how tempting.

October 25, 2008


The longer you stare at this picture, the funnier it gets. Don't think its funny? You haven't looked at it long enough!

The picture is rich with layers of hilarity. At first, the funny little guy in the front is strikingly goofy. He looks so OK with the situation. The giant baby holding him up also looks very alright with what is happening. What gets me about this picture is the simplicity with which it was assembled and disassembled. With a few clicks of the mouse, a veritable pandora's box of ridiculous is opened.

October 19, 2008

Chlorine Dream

I've been away for a few weeks, working for Obama. I apologize if any of you have gone through withdrawal-like symptoms over the last month. But, not to worry...Look at this huge pool. It is like the ocean, but the colour of a swimming pool.

September 22, 2008

Early Sketch Reveals Interest in Mockitecture

A study recently pulled from Norton's archives reveals a rare glimpse into the mind of a budding mockitect.  Here are ten examples of how humor can be injected into YOUR renderings...

1. Sketchy van approaching the scene
2. Empty baby carriage
3. Two men following the mother very closely
4. A textbook "hot beef"
5. Old man walking a bike across the road
6. Man in trench coat in pursuit of handicapped citizen
7. Kid being knocked over by friend on horse
8. Reference to the endangered Smitty's store from Over-the-Rhine
9. Man walking quickly with briefcase
10. Old lady selling lemonade next to a gay man with a baby carriage

September 20, 2008

Cincinnati PARK(ing) Day

Cincinati PARK(ing) Day was held on Friday...

"“Cincinnati PARK[ing] Day” to be held Sept. 19, 2008 in parking spaces around Cincinnati. This is a one-day, global event in which artists, activists, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform parking spots into public parks and alternative public spaces. Parking spaces show the fundamental elements of a good outdoor public space and may include seating, shade, and a place to watch people, exchange information, and view scenery. Each parking spot can be transformed into a park, playground, puppet show, or whatever you like."

A quick synopsis of how N_O_R_T_O_N's intervention went...

"three police cars and a bike cop showed up within 40 minutes of setting up. my location might have had something to do with it...i was on probably the busiest street in the city...Walnut between 4th and 5th adjacent to fountain square where they were scrambling to set up for octoberfest. the cops told me the radio dispatcher said there were "kids playing cornhole in the middle of the street" which naturally garnered a lot of attention. anyway, i was told i had to have a permit to be using a paid meter space for something other than storing a car which is complete bullshit. after they kicked me out i went to district 1 where they "couldn't find" a copy of the municipal code or parking ordiances for the city. this was also bullshit. how can they enforce the law when they don't even have a copy of it at their main station? wow. i was pissed. then i went to city hall,
where the law department told me the cops were the only ones who dealt with "permit issues" which is what they described my situation as. so i looked up the code, and nowhere does it specify that the ONLY use for a metered parking space is to store a vehicle. I'm pretty sure what i was doing was legal. anyway, they didn't give me a ticket because they couldn't figure out what to charge me with, then got nervous and told me to leave. the entire altercation was photographed thankfully. haven't seen the photos yet. heres a photo
of my was pretty solid." [more...]

September 16, 2008

Good Ol' Fashioned Mockitecture

This is a funny video. You have to check it out to believe it. Truly mockitecture. I don't even know what it is, nor do I care. !@@#@$@CLICK HERE!!!!!@!!@!!@!#$$

Funny Signs

I've been a bit off track the last few weeks. I apologize. I know that lots of people check this blog religiously yearning for the next post. These are funny signs. Enjoy.

August 26, 2008

David Byrne

While we're on the subject, I would call David Byrne a serious practitioner of mockitecture. He straddled the line between serious and silly, meaning and non-meaning, familiar and exotic. The first example of this is in his musical stylings. they incorporated many many different kinds of music from all over the world, exotic blends of rock, country, afro-pop and latin. but in the end, a beautiful, identifiable end product was produced. It reached across age and cultural boundaries. His lyrics did the same, but they took on the opposite philosophy. The lyrics usually were superficially silly, and seemingly had no meaning. They usually were about completely ordinary things. Lamps, post offices, dry ice factories. This is the harmonious dichotomy of Byrne's music. A touching Love Song sung to a lamp. Seriously Goofy.

August 25, 2008

David Byrne for NYCDOT???

David Byrne designed these bike racks in NYC. They incorporate images from the lives of everyday people. [more...]

August 20, 2008

Hilarious Inspiration

This is a good video about some beautiful "reverse graffiti." It also has a great moment where English artist "Moose" tells us about the inspiration for his work. It is at the 1:29 mark. [more...]

August 19, 2008

Parking Situation

Another great OSA project. I think it is making light of the lack of parking in the lot. [more...]

August 18, 2008

House on stilts

This is a goofy house on Stilts. OSA (Office for Subversive Architecture) re furbished this old Signal Box geurilla style, only to have it destroyed days later. [more...]

August 17, 2008

Basketbar by NL Architects

First of all, that is actually the name of this building. Second, the Basketbar is great mockitecture. From what I gather, in Europe, Universal Design and Accessibility are not as important as in the US. Burdened with the reality of making the student dormatory handicap accessible, NL Architects came up with this award winning solution. They made the ramp not only wheelchair accessible, but also skateboard accessible. Then they painted it orange. Brilliant.

August 16, 2008

"You try to actually, I would say to (pause) irritate people"

(video via osa)

A-Hole Word of the day


Bulbous Buffont

This is a nice bit of irony. Sergio Silva's Oyule Lamps use old methods and modern materials. There is something sinister about the overtaking of the light bulbs' body, almost like a parasite which has overtaken its host. And the parasite is the old method. Beautiful design, however. [more...]

August 7, 2008


This project is by one of the leading mockitecture firms in the world, NL Architects. The basketball hoop is also the building's only window. The WOS 8 was designed to grow into a public space in the new part of Utrect, Leidsche Rijn. This building addresses the issue of applied vs. integrated ornament. This ornament is integrated, and serves a very useful purpose. This is when ornament is at its strongest. This building accepts the inevitablilty of the object, and embraces, even didacticizes the potential of the users' experience of said object. More to come on this great firm.

July 29, 2008

Ik wil meer schoorstenen!!!

Cranbrook Academy was founded in the 1920's by George Booth to educate children in the arts and to escape from the harsh industrial landscape that was Detroit. Scott Michael Dohr has taken that industrial landscape and chased Cranbrook with it. He does not want them to escape from it. Behind the obvious irony of "bringing the industry of Detroit to Cranbrook," this project in very intriguing. Smokestacks and Assembly lines at Cranbrook. Ha.

Handiwork and Arts & Crafts are the predominant schools of thought at Cranbrook. After all these years, Bill Massey was hired to head the architecture department. Massey was known for his use of milling machines to create surfaces. Very industrial. Dohr's project may be the very monument to Cranbrook's acceptance of modernization.

A towering reminder of the profound landscape which lies less than an hour from Cranbrook's pristine lawns and gardens, Dohr's Smokestacks ironically fit perfectly with Cranbrook's philosophy. It is in striking contrast with the existing built environment of Cranbrook, and offers a new attempt at distinction. Pure Form. The image of industrialization is there, but the building would not actually have an industrializing effect on the campus. This is the best irony of all. Many of the buildings designed to "interact with the campus" or blend with it have the opposite effect. Dohr has masterfully pretended not to respond to the context.

"I could give you some line about assembly lines and wellness, but uuhh..." This no nonsense approach to the building increases the real meaning as well as the clarity of the meaning. This meaning is not lost in convoluted abstraction. Everyday people can identify with the message of the building, and thus can adopt it as a part of their experience. There are different fabrication techiniques that Dan Hoffman has used at Cranbrook which attempt to connect Cranbrook to the industry of Detroit, but they are lost in abstraction.
The "duck" smokestacks are tectonically well-built. This is not a one-liner. And even if it were a one liner, isn't that better than a zero-liner? Viva Neo-PostModernism!

July 24, 2008

blimp city

This is something I found funny. These are some beautiful renderings of a goofily possible project. [more...]

Son of Beast Housing Project

What if all the homeless people in Cincinnati were allocated to the Son of Beast? We could just use the existing structure and retrofit wooden shipping crates into the perfectly sized bays. How would this affect the park? Pretty badly. However, this could be useful in case of a big natural disaster. Then the trains could be used to transport people to their "homes."

A viable solution to Cincinnati's homeless problem, the Son of Beast Housing Project would be a low cost, quickly assembled place to put the most destitute of the city's residents. Son of a Beast!


July 20, 2008