Less Hadid, More Giant Women

The Architecture Foundation recently announced that they’ve called off plans for construction of a permanent London address. Program development will continue, but due to the current economic slump, their new Zaha Hadid-designed home was scrapped — and Life Without Buildings couldn’t be happier. Nothing against the AF or Ms. Hadid, but the aggressive design left us wanting, and paled in comparison to the sexy simplicity of Lacaton Vassal’s proposal.



Yes, it’s another Giant Woman Friday.

To get started, I’ll let the architects introduce the project:

The building is at home, almost ordinary, on its site: transparent, open, evolutive, undemonstrative. Inside, a statue twenty times bigger than life-size occupies the entire volume. It creates a second, unexpected architecture that is out of sync with its context, which detourns and transforms normality and creates the exceptional, as called for in the program.

Why so much love for this proposal (besides the obvs)? Well, by presenting the human body at an unfamiliar scale their giant woman creates an awareness of how our bodies occupy space — how anything occupies space, really. This concept seems to be missing from a lot of architecture. It’s not necessarily about the building — a simple, almost miesian glass shell — it’s about what it contains. And I like to think that the statue comes across as a bit of a wink at Corbu’s Modulor. Love it. There’s actually humor here! Humor in architecture! My god what would the Modernists think? What would almost any contemporary architect (excluding Will Alsop, FAT, and too few others) think ?

Pretty great section, eh? And now some closing words from Lacaton Vassal, who inspire hope for the future of the industry.

Contemporary architecture acquires meaning in its ability to blend realism and the imaginary , to transform the ordinary, to generously permit of different usage, to create the unexpected.>

&#183 The Architecture Foundation
&#183 James and the Peach Giant [Life Without Buildings]
&#183 New Uses for Ceramics [Life Without Buildings]
&#183 New to Me: Lacaton Vassal [Life Without Bulidings]

[images via the excellent 2G book on Lacaton Vassal]

4 Replies to “Less Hadid, More Giant Women”

  1. I admire your enthusiasm for this design as I do not share it. Architects have been engaging in a dialog with the human form for a long time now (read: thousands of years). Is there no way to engage this discussion without being overbearing and disgustingly blunt? In my opinion, this reduces design to nothing more than a caricature and is as offensive to the intelligence as it is ugly. And no, the section is actually a boring one with a female silhouette placed in it. It is appropriate, though, that the bar should be placed at the “ass” of the building as one would need a few drinks before enduring the rest of the building.

  2. The artistic addition of the woman wearing high heels and underwear provides an excellent commentary on modern women and her importance in the context of public space. The concept is striking and shows how 21st century architecture can truly become a larger part of the community discourse. The only improvement I can see is if transparent, black underwear is used which is also removable. This will allow a more dynamic and interactive architecture.

  3. Anon#1 – I agree that architects have been dealing with this issue for a long time, but lately it seems like we’ve gotten off track a bit. Maybe it’s time for a disgustingly blunt architecture or sculpture. Why should every gesture and allusion be so subtle that its perceptible only to a select few? Offensive? Thankfully so. But Ugly? What?

    Anon#2 – Assuming for a second that you’re being sarcastic (in a negative way, that is), i’d like to refer to the architect’s competition statement: “The statue represents a contemporary ideal of beauty, and radically reinterprets the traditional interrelation of sculpture and architecture.” Emphasis mine. So yeah, maybe its a little risque or questionably tasteful – but hey, it’s undeniably modern. And beyond that, for centuries the nude has embodied the western ideal of beauty in art. Why not bring some of those centuries-old ideas back into contemporary architecture? Oh, and on the off chance that you’re completely serious. Great points. Welcome to the fanclub.

  4. i don’t understand why anyone would ever have suggested such an absurd idea.

    it’s the most unintelligent idea i’ve ever come across, in my entire life. or maybe it just isn’t my cup of tea.
    it’s shameful.

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