January 23, 2013

Evil Twins

Evil Twins are the antagonists, opposites, and look-alikes of storytelling. They tend to have distinct physical differences: goatees being the most common, along with the occasional scar or alternate outfit. An evil twin is typically not a biological twin, but rather exists as a physical duplicate, albeit with a different world view, who has entered the story from a parallel universe or other sci-fi phenomena (i.e. Star Trek's Mirror Mirror).

As architectural copying intensifies, the Evil Twin could be adopted as a fictional device to promote a critical method for duplication. Some quick thoughts on architectural Evil Twins follows:

But first, be advised, the recent pirated Zaha building is not an Evil Twin of the original - it's more of a biological twin - a Canal Street rip off of the original. It's for people who prefer GAP over Versace; Ford over Ferrari. The copy has no agenda - no alternate view of reality, no reason to undermine the original, and an agenda obsessed with achieving the same effect for less money. Interesting, but not an Evil Twin.

ARM's Negative of the Villa Savoye might be a better candidate for an Evil Twin. It's appearance, some 70 years after the original, seems to have time warped into Earth from an alternate universe. Also, the sinister "goatee" of ARM's copy has been manifested through the applique of chunky jet black panels - seems visible.  The most terrifying aspect of ARM's copy is the roof deck, which appears to be a 1:1 copy until further examination reveals your mind has been fooled.

Perhaps one of the best Evil Twins I've ever seen - and what sparked my interest in the topic - is the recent reemergence of a beloved pavilion in a small Midwestern river town, Rising Sun (Indiana). The cloaking of a utilitarian public restroom building with camouflaged aesthetics of the town's pavilion, coupled with a very sinister reversal of program (public to private) is masterful. The evil twin trope of the goatee manifested as an aluminum front door. And, unlike Corb's and Zaha's twins, this building is doing something more - it goes beyond mere copying towards mockery, perhaps even jealousy. It is not quite a copy, but desperately wants to be. And in not fully succeeding in replication, it calls attention to a new possible future for the further reduction of architecture to image.