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Misfits’ “English for Architects” Awards

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The Misfits’ “English for Architects” Awards are designed to highlight groundbreaking examples of the English language being used to make shitty buildings and ideas seem not only better than they are, but fucking amazing!

The Rem Koolhaas Prize:

This prize is awarded as a tribute to Rem Koolhaas when he hasn’t had time to prepare a seminar. Who can forget the brazen vacuity of his opening lines to the 2009 Sharjah Bienalle? (“We came here and wondered why it was like this so we looked at it and thought about it …”) Here’s a short clip of the Grand Remster “looking at it”. 

And our winner in this category is …

Atelier Hapsitus for BLC Headquarters
(as featured in Dezeen)

“what can one say?”

Atalier Hapsitus carries on the tradition with their stunningly bad idea coupled with a brilliantly deluded description of their thought processes. The judges particularly liked the use of imagery featuring the exploitation of children – an exciting new low!

The presence of the existing building at the corner of the site was an enigma to us. It had the key position on the site, although it was not necessarily the most appropriate image for the BLC new headquarters. In order to resolve this issue, we created a project whereupon the new structure shares the corner with the existing building and cantilevers above it. In this way, the different expressions of old and new become complementary, working together in symbiosis. Our proposal for the BLC headquarters strives to reflect the history of the bank and project its future with a design strategy that responds intuitively to the site. Like the new administration of BLC, we have chosen to adopt the existing structure, streamline it, correct its dysfunctional aspects, and celebrate it as the departure point for a dynamic, sophisticated and unique composition growing around and above it.

The Architecture Association Prize: 

This prize is dedicated to the Architectural Association, the first educational institution to use the English language to distance the practitioners of architecture from their audience in much the same way as Latin distances doctors from patients. Simple facts are restated as if they were art concepts beyond the comprehension of ordinary folk. Of course, the language of the Architecture Association has moved on over the past 40 years, but the spirit continues to spread throughout the world and produce heartwarming bullshit like this, from our winners …

Barclay & Crousse Architecture for Casa Equis, Peru
(as featured in ArchDaily)

Let’s admire how they get us to imagine a box with some bits taken away, and how all those not-box bits are all the same, er … and not box … 

We decided to begin the design process by imagining an abstract and plain volume whose limits are defined by building regulations. Then, during the design process, we “excavated” this theoretical solid, removing matter bit-by-bit as archaeologists remove sand to discover the pre-Columbian ruins in this region.

This ‘subtractive logic’, very different from common ‘constructive logic’, was applied to all scales of the project. The result was exterior spaces merging with interior spaces in a continuous fluid space within a precinct. This precinct divides the absolute and infinite space of the desert from the intimate spaces of dwelling. From this well defined but permeable precinct, landscape and sky are each framed in different ways.

The following entry is given an honourable mention. We expect to be seeing them again in future awards.

Architecture of Novel Differentiation (AND) for Villa Topoject
(as featured in ArchDaily) 

With a practice name like Architecture of Novel Differential and a project name like Villa Topoject, the judges were never going to be disappointed. Although AND didn’t win this year, we expect to be seeing a lot more of them in future competitions.

gradually lifted landscape becomes …

Gradually lifted landscape of the mountainous topography becomes a floating mass over a little stream. Villa Topoject rejects the dichotomy of object building versus landscape building. It is a mutant born as a hybrid of the two kinds, and it focuses on the transformation process between the two typologies. The boundary of the site is pulled in as the topography becomes an object, creating semi private outdoor spaces. The private living spaces are formed inside. The continuous exterior spaces meet the interior spaces at all levels adding compact, yet rich spatial qualities. The boundary between exterior and interior, land and building, subject and object becomes ambiguous.

This must sound great in Korean, but WE JUST LOVE IT in English! An endearing attempt to come to grips with the completely shit language that architects are expected to produce about their projects. 

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen! Misfits would like to thank all those who entered. Although it’s not possible to give awards to everyone who deserves one, we hope to continue raising the awareness of shit english and how it can combine with shit architecture to produce something very very special.

So far, tonight’s awards have been dominated by architects from the non-English speaking countries but architects whose native language is English still have much to contribute. This is amply illustrated by our final award.

The Humpty Dumpty Prize: 

“Words can mean anything I want them to mean”, he famously exclaimed. The Humpty Dumpty Prize honours exceptional eloquence in stringing grand concepts and words together to convey the simple message, “It’s a shed.”

Incorporated for Texas Hill Road Residence
(as featured in ArchDaily) 

The history of built form can be viewed as a dialog between the romantic, accommodating structure and the internally logical, platonic one, between the passive and the aggressive object. Interestingly, both perspectives of this dialog can find expression in a single passive aggressive structure.

The Greek Stoa, Friedrich Schinkel’s Altes Museum and Palazzo dei Congressi, simultaneously possess an aggressive, platonic form and a passive, dependant role in relation to the Agoura, the Lustgarten, and Piazza John Fitzgerald Kennedy, respectively. Similarly, Casa Malaparte functions as both an object within a dramatic landscape and as a mere platform from which the landscape can be viewed. Luytens’ Tigbourne Court presents a perfectly symmetrical, landscape-dominating form to the arriving visitor, only to decompose into a romantic and asymmetrical composition on its garden side.

The design of Texas Hill consciously integrates oppositions: of Eastern and Western traditions, built space and natural space, symmetry and asymmetry, and of material, while thwarting resolution in favour of an open ended, shifting dialog. Through its reinterpretation of historical strategies through the lens of contemporary, sustainable materials and construction methods, a unique phenomenology infuses the site, one that forces the visitor to encounter the contrasting elements in its design. Ultimately, Texas Hill is a synthesis, whose individual parts, both physical and conceptual, coexist as a portrait of its owners’ personal, globalized aesthetic.



  • Lost it reading this article!

    “removing matter bit-by-bit as archaeologists remove sand to discover the pre-Columbian ruins in this region.” was a particularly hilarious one!

  • says:

    I think one of the major drivers of this “shit” language is the stupidity of the clients. Also, most of the ‘old school’ writers and journalist will never find someone to fund them in this region if they try to be like Jeremy Clarkson. Enjoyed your blog though!