Category Archives: Misfits’ on Misfits’

posts to do with the blog itself

Misfits’ Guide to VENICE

First, make your way to Fondamenta Zattere and see Ignazio Gardella’s Casa alle Zattere built 1953–1958.

To say it pre-empted post modernism is to do it and Gardella a disservice for, with this building, Gardella did nothing more (or less) than respond to what was already there, continuing a tradition rather than proposing something new. Better than intellectual, it’s intelligent and caring.  

venice bus map.jpg

Then take the #8 from Spirito Santo to San Marco (S. Zaccarhia) and change to the #4.1 for Redentore. Look back cross the Giudecca Canal at where you just were and try to work out how he did it.

Casa alle Zattere.jpg

Proceed to the social housing designed by Aldo Rossi and Alvaro Siza.


The building by Siza was never completed, a third building by Rafael Moneo was never begun. If you go before November 27 you’ll see the Portuguese exhibit for the 15th Venice Biennale. Go on in.

The dual theme is social housing and housing refugees. The simple exhibition consists of four movies of Siza talking to residents of projects he designed. It’s moving. The installation has prompted the completion of Siza’s building. It’s an example of an architecture bienalle changing things. 

After that, walk west along Giudecca Island and you’ll eventually encounter this social housing project designed by Gino Valle. The walkway is a joy. The usual images you’ll find of this development don’t do it justice.

Giudecca has layers of housing, much of it social and none of it trivial. You’ll see some examples of prefabrication that I’m guessing are from the 1970s.


Next to them you’ll find later sophistications. 

You’ll see some old buildings that are solid and decent but were never grand.

Mixed in are some more recent buildings, all of them decent. 

All in all, Giudecca is a nice place. It has a nice feeling, people going about their lives, walking dogs that won’t fit into handbags. 


Despite its abundance of social housing, Giudecca Island is not down-at-heel. There’s a strong sense of community and the people who live and work there are proudly self-reliant. They appreciate the historic centre of Venice but don’t depend upon it. They have Palladio’s 1592 Church of the Most Holy Redeemer, Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore, Il Redentore which is magnificent. 

Il Redentore.jpg

The Cipriani Hotel and an outpost of Harry’s Bar are also rather classy.


Back across the canal now and in the Giardini bienalle exhibition grounds, you’ll see the German pavilion, originally built in 1909 but in 1938 remodelled into a piece of “Nazi architecture”. Over the years, it’s has various temporary alterations for different bienalli. In 2013, France and Germany actually swapped pavilions to show the idiocy of accommodating thoughts about art in pavilions identified by country. The same could be said of architecture in 2016 if it weren’t for Germany. Its exhibit, Making Heimat. Germany, Arrival Country is the definite result of national borders and a national government – specifically, the government’s 2015 decision to allow one million refugees into the country. The entire exhibit is available online, including a database of housing projects.

open pavilion.jpg

One unreported-from front is the battle to prevent architectural representation getting more attention than architectural reality. The organizers are doing their bit to help. They maintain that “the open pavilion is not the architectural equivalent of the goverment policy statement of winter 2015-16”. Unfortunately, architectural metaphor is irrepressible because, with buildings, there’s always something external to generate it. A few holes in some walls quickly become a “less formal” “opening out” “towards the south” “enabling the discovery of new qualities previously hidden”.  Well-placed and well-proportioned openings offering light and breeze and a lovely view through trees across water shouldn’t have to be anything more.

Outside the main exhibition space at Giardini there’s this quiet corner.

The day was warm, the plants lush, the fountains tinkling and the concrete a heavy presence with its wilful curves. I liked it, but only the day after did I find out it was by Carlo Scarpa, an architect I’ve never really known much about or whose work I’ve ever felt much drawn to. I’d always thought there was too much happening, and couldn’t see why every surface and every join needed to be celebrated. I still don’t, but I’m less resistant than I was. Scarpa also designed the Venezuelan pavilion at the Giardini venue.

This too, I’d walked through the day before, wondering why every surface had to be made into an event yet still not putting two and two together. Scarpa was starting to get under my skin.


In Piazza San Marco is Scarpa’s Negozio Olivetti (Olivetti Store) from 1957. I only got as far as the entrance as the girl at the desk didn’t have change for my €100 note. 

It was a stunning entrance floor though. It’s glass mosaic tiles have irregular shapes and sizes and are set in relaxed regularity. It’s beautiful. 

From what I could see, every other surface and junction was beautiful as well. Relentless taste. Aurisina marble, rosewood, African teak … It’s also very Venetian. It’s too well-mannered to be vulgar, but still it bludgeons you with design, materials and craftsmanship. By comparison, the Barcelona Pavilion is tawdry.


I remembered passing a poster for an exhibition of Scarpa drawings at the IuaV University of Venice so I made my way there.


I was intrigued by the sketches for the Masieri Memorial.

Agelo Masieri admired the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. He and his wife travelled to the US in 1952 to ask Wright to design a house for them on the Grand Canal. While there, Angelo was killed in a car accident and the project became one for a memorial. There was much resistance to having a ‘modern’ (as in ‘arrogant’?) architect like Wright design something for a site that’s not only on the Grand Canal but looks south along it from S.Toma to Accademia. Permission was refused, but the design has been imagined, vizualized and LEGO’d anyway.

Scarpa completed the project but, even then, the Palazzo Fondazione Masieri didn’t open until 1983, four years after Scarpa’s death.

I’d passed the building several times without noticing anything special. I later learned the City Council made Scarpa retain the original façade and exterior. It was closed when I visited but, apparently, the facade is detached from the floors and the interior completely gutted and new materials introduced. I believe it.  I couldn’t resist a quick google. I see what they mean by detached facade. 

Notice in this next image how the downpipe highlights the symmetrical part of the facade, suggesting we disregard the additional bit on the right? Even if there weren’t a conservation order imposed, I’d suspect this downpipe is original for where else could it go? The midpoint of the gutter is the most practical but least-wanted place for it’d visually split the building in two. The corners of the building aren’t great either for practical reasons of gutter slope. The downpipe is in the best place it can be even if it means the roof must extend so its gutter can bypass the chimneys. Personally, I think architecture has more serious things to concern itself with than asymmetries and inflections as visual entertainments, but I’m re-reading Complexity & Contradiction in Architecture anyway. If you’re Venturi, this minor functional element is doing something of crucial importance. I doubt its architect, whoever it was, gave its placement a second thought.


The building isn’t widely known, probably as punishment for having prevented there being one more Frank Lloyd Wright building in the world. We don’t know if Angelo Masieri’s house would have ever been approved and built. The redesigned proposal is known as the Masieri Memorial for that is what his widow asked it to be. The Scarpa remodelling is known as the Palazzo Fondazione Masieri for that is what it is. It’s site is still unique and the view from its windows still the same no matter who designed them and who didn’t. If the Olivetti Store is anything to go by, the interior is stunning and I’ll get around to seeing it someday. What I took away with me was a renewed awareness of the importance of safe driving.

• • •

A sweet little house close by. Its owners and architect would probably have preferred a symmetrical facade but quite liked how it turned out anyway. I do too.

Nice people, good music, de-lish fish.

• • •

Misfits’ Guide to New York

Here’s some different things to check out next time you’re in New York or, if for those not that different, maybe a new way of looking at them.

Cherokee Apartments


history cherokee

Cherokee 1

The building is organised as four courtyard blocks with stairwells naturally lit and ventilated. All apartments are double sided for better light and ventilation. All windows are large and have balconies, something still unusual for New York.


    Inside, floors are concrete to prevent permanent carpeting. Rugs had to be removable for cleaning. The concrete floors curved up to the wall to eliminate corners where dust could settle. Radiators were mounted on the walls, so a broom could pass easily underneath.

At 550 sq.ft (51 sq.m) these are one-bedroom flats and not microflats in any sense of the word.

625 West 57th Street



Yes, it’s taken shape. Definitely. Taken shape.

There’s no space left on site for materials storage. It looks like cladding and glazing panels get delivered to the elevator and stored on the staging platforms you can see below. Curiously, the tip of the building is still unclad and unglazed. Will cladding be installed from inside? Can it be? Or will gondolas be slung off the top? You have to admire the project managers on jobs like this.


What I find curious is how we’re told the building the logical result of crossing a European perimeter block and an American tower. This is one of those things that sounds true the first time you hear it but perimeter blocks have more history in New York than towers.

The Dakota is from 1884, Riverside Buildings is a perimeter block from 1890. Besides, is the perimeter block even European?

In Moneymaking Machines #2, I went on about how the site was assembled and how the permissible envelope is where a south-facing wedge intersects a north-facing one. This would produce a pyramid and it annoys Durst to hear you call it that. Sure a tetrahedron has a base and three sides but a pyramid four. But why so touchy?

My guess is BIG and Durst are trying to draw our attention away from that rounded fourth corner that rushes to meet the maxxed-out retail space on the W57th corner. It screams of contrivance, like somebody said “Yes is More!” Besides, who wants to have their building nicknamed “The Pyramid”? Especially when the apartments facing W58th look like they’re going to be rather tomb-like anyway in terms of space and light.

Hotel Shelton



The Shelton was planned as a “club hotel” – a residential hotel for men, with club features as a swimming pool, Turkish bath, billiard room, bowling alley, and, on the setbacks, rooftop gardens. The joys of living in such a hotel were detailed by a writer for Edison Monthly: “In a house of monumental beauty raised to the heights especially for you – if you are a bachelor – you will find all the comforts of a country home, and the luxuries and camaraderie of a university or great club always at your disposal and command.” The male athletes carved above the column capitals at the entrance symbolize this original use. This use as a residential hotel for men was not a success and soon after its completion the hotel became a more traditional residential and transient facility.

The hotel became a symbol of modernity as soon as it was completed, appearing in publications and inspiring people worldwide. Georgia O’Keefe was a fan. Between 1926 and 1928 she made several painting of it and views of New York from it.

Painter Hugh Ferris was inspired in 1922 before it was even completed.

In the late twenties, Czech architect Karel Teige understood its implications for new types of collective living, referring to it in his book The Minimum Dwelling.

hotel shelton

Let’s not forget the architect, Arthur Loomis Harmon. Harmon was based in Chicago but the huge success of the Hotel Shelton must have caused the New York firm of Shreve & Lamb to make him an offer for they were soon to become Shreve, Lamb & Harmon. If ever you’re asked who designed the Empire State Building, it was them.


Rem Koolhaas does not mention the Hotel Shelton in Delirious New York despite it sharing a parent with The Empire State Building and being a programmatic precursor to the Downtown Athletic Club that he devoted a chapter to.

Grand  Central Terminal



By the end of the 19th century, Grand Central Terminal had grown to be a large and lethal short-cut to pedestrian workers commuting east-west.


William J. Wilgus was the chief engineer for the New York Central Railroad. He proposed having two levels of tracks to increase capacity but his more important idea was to deck over the tracks (which would be electrified) and to sell the space above for building. This was the world’s first instance of air rights.


This next image shows why Park Avenue is unusually wide, and also the extent to which those air rights have been used. This required calculating the anticipated heights and weights of the buildings the piers would be expected to support. The construction of piers between functioning tracks to support new construction exceeding those predetermined limits is not something proposed or done lightly.


The terminal building contains the largest public space in the city. It has many features and quirks, some of which are explained in this overview of its design and construction.

ships' rat guards and mock rats as ornamenting the main entrance canopy supports

ships’ rat guards and mock rats as ornament on the main entrance canopy supports

the cornice next to Cancer wasn't completely cleaned of accumulated tobacco smoke

a spot on the cornice next to Cancer wasn’t completely cleaned of accumulated tobacco smoke

The northern edge of the main concourse and Lexington Avenue, adjacent to the Grabber Building has some lesser known ceiling art that's very Futurist. (thanks Self-Absorbed Boomer)

The northern edge of the main concourse and Lexington Avenue, adjacent to the Greybar Building has some lesser known ceiling art that’s very Futurist. [thanks Self-Absorbed Boomer]

Citicorp Buidling


Grand Central Terminal is popularly known as Grand Central Station as its proper name never stuck. The Pan Am Building successfully become the MetLife Building but it took twenty years. The British are more resistant. After twenty years, London’s Tower 42 is still known as Natwest Tower. The Citicorp Building is actually Citicorp Center but now wants to be known as 601 Lexington Avenue. New York buildings are lucky to have these default names.


  1. That brown building to the lower left is a church that didn’t want to relocate.
  2. The church allowed building in the air rights but didn’t want to be part of the new building or have its columns passing through it. The building is supported at the midpoints of its square floor plates so it can cantilever over the church. (Floorplates supported at the corners would have only half the area.)
  3. Structurally, it goes like this.


It gets interesting. The story continues crisis

There’s many articles now on this case frequently referred to in professional ethics classes. Kremer LeMessurier Citicorp should get you there.

ethical questions

Meanwhile, in some parallel universe, the church was keen to be part of the new development, a different building was designed and different stuff almost didn’t happen.

The roof of Citigroup Center slopes at a 45-degree angle because it was originally intended to contain solar panels to provide energy. However, this idea was eventually dropped because the positioning of the angled roof meant that the solar panels would not face the sun directly.

In another parallel universe, they received better advice. In yet another, they came up with a more convincing story. For New York, a solar panel inclination of 40.8° is optimum but the difference for ±5° is marginal.

Austrian Cultural Forum



Designed by Raymund Abraham and completed in 2002, the building has a lot of activities wedged into a site 7.2 metres wide. Abraham’s unconventional idea of placing the stairs at the rear of the building made for a building that works. There’s much to like about how this building is configured.

The angled facade is a unique way of responding to New York City’s complex setback requirements.


Beyond that, there’s also a lot of things happening aesthetically with big things on the front facade giving it a commanding monumentality despite its size.

Facade incident is symmetrical and stacked and suggest the presence of a profound symbolism from a culture we can’t decipher. The building is slightly disturbing for refusing to allow itself to be read, and I like it for that.

• • •

Cherokee Apartments:
New York Times article current listing two
Hotel Shelton: Historic Districts Council entry Wired New York article 1920s slideshow
Grand Central Terminal: New York Times article
Citicorp Building: solarnewyork

a good guide

a good guide

the best pizza

the best pizza

Misfits’ Guide to Moscow


Moscow is a big and mighty city made up of a few big roads and many little corners. The Moskva River winds its way across.


Moscow is not trying to look beautiful. Or even attractive, to tourists. I saw no Я♥Москву t-shirts or St. Basil’s fridge magnets. It’s a place people go to to live and work and get on with what they have to do. It’s always a good thing for a city to be full of people with a good reason to be there. It’s why the on-foot experience of Moscow is so variegated and intimate.

Tretyakovskaya Gallery of 20th Century Russian Art



An unassuming building alongside the river and, if you go in August, a pleasant park full of summery crowds eating ice creams and splashing in fountains. There’s an amazing collection of 20th century art inside and an equally amazing sculpture garden outside.

The Novodevichy Cemetery



This is Moscow’s premier cemetery next to the Novodevichy Convent which is Moscow’s third most popular tourist site. If you’ve heard of them, they’re buried here – Chekov, Prokofiev, Bulgakov, Chekhov, Gogol …  The tower was scaffolded in August, hence the Streetview.

MOGES Central Thermal Power Station

Chocolate Factory


On 7 November 1923, avant-garde composer Arseny Asraamov conducted the second performance of his Symphony of Factory Sirens from its rooftop.

Asraamov 2


Krasny Oktyabr (Red October) Chocolate Factory & Museum

The chocolate factory is next to the power station, at the fork of the river. You can’t miss it.


1928 RZSKT Commune Building


The RZSKT Commune building was the first application of the principles and apartments developed in The Types Study. The building was immediately home to many artists and architects including Ginzburg himself but the current plaque outside only commemorates Ivan Leonidov. Two additional storeys have been added in the manner of the original. Rather than being seen as “ruining the original intent of the architect”, I prefer to think this proves the continuing viability of its social intent. The earlier post, Architecture Misfit #17: Moisei Ginzburg contains some photographs of the apartments and their current interiors.

The large building to the south-east on the map is where the Palace of the Soviets was to have been built. The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour that was demolished to make way for the Palace of the Soviets has since been rebuilt.


Gosstrakh Apartments 

Gosstrakt apartments

Moisei Ginzburg’s 1926 apartments were introduced in The Constructivists. They’re still there, with the original rooftop converted into apartments.

Nearby is the only remaining pond of Patriarshiye Ponds (Patriarch’s Ponds) where the beginning of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita is set. You couldn’t find a more pleasant spot to read it.

The novel itself is wicked and no way seems like it was written between 1928 and 1940.

Central Tracking Substation T-3



Moscow Metro station platform halls are famous but couldn’t exist without substations, some of which were seen as significant buildings in their own right. This one’s by D.F. Friedmann, from 1935.

This building is extraordinary not only for its detail, but for the inventiveness of that detail. The window framing is oddly contemporary, the ornamental classicism stripped down to Art Deco. Columns were back in 1935 but acanthus leaves and entasis superfluous to requirements.


Atomic House

atomic house

atomic house

This building on Bolshaya Tulskaya is informally known as Atomic House as many of its original residents were employed in the nuclear industry. Legend has it the building is constructed from reactor-grade concrete and was fitted with 6mm glass. A beast of a building at first sight, it’s nine 16-storey buildings joined together with individual entrances at the rear. It’s a big brush making little strokes.


Ground level is retail, the next two floors commercial, and residential above. The nine entrances lead to elevator lobbies accessing corridors with single-aspect apartments along their length and larger, double-aspect apartments at their ends. Some apartments are advertised as short-term lets on Rooms are a decent size. Kitchens have windows, as is the Russian way.

If you were to give Superstudio‘s Megaton City a similar internal organisation, the problem of human habitation on this planet would be largely solved.

megaton city

Shukov Tower

shukov's tower

shukovs tower

An old favourite. A landmark when it was built in 1922 as a communications tower, it’s still a landmark and still a communications tower currently supporting a cluster of cellular network antennas.

Krymsky Bridge

Crimea Bridge

Krymsky Bridge was designed by engineer V. P. Konstantinov and architect A. V. Vlasov. It’s from 1938 and the only suspension bridge in Moscow. It’s slightly wasteful in terms of the amount of steel used to the square metreage of deck provided but this only goes to prove that even together, Konstantinov and Vlasov were not Shukov. The bridge nevertheless has a satisfying purposefulness about it, possibly due to it being the colour of metal – not a dull grey like the 1930 Sydney Harbour Bridge or orange like the 1933 Golden Gate Bridge.

Kremlin Petrol Station

kremlin gas

Not to be confused with Midway Station, 14413 N Highway 81, Kremlin, Oklahoma, USA. This petrol station is only for the use of cars from The Kremlin and is rumored to have been designed by the great Moscow Metro architect Alexey Dushkin.

The Narkomfin Building


It’s currently in a bad way, as misfits’ has mentioned before and countless others seem to enjoy photodocumenting. Sure, the building is an important part of Constructivist history and it was an attempt to come up with an architectural solution for housing in the new post-Revolution  society. Ironically, it’s buildings of this type that cities like London currently need right now – single- or double-occupancy 30 sq.m apartments with minimal kitchens. Street level dining rooms open to the public. Misfits has previously commented (c.f. Fun!tionalism) on how apartments with communal facilities have become a standard upmarket urban typology.

Narkomfin Building

I’m not going to argue for Narkomfin’s restoration and preservation. Its social aspirations are still relevant, if not more so but if they’re not going to be heeded then it doesn’t really matter if it’s demolished and forgotten, or restored and neutered as a shrine to a right idea at the right time that turned out to be the wrong time.

In Moscow, the preservation and restoration of buildings of historical interest is, as in many other cities, the domain where conflicting interests play themselves out. In the UK, Brutalist buildings get demolished to make it difficult for people to remember that things such as government housing and social agendas once existed. The other way to destroy the memory of an ‘inconvenient’ social agenda is to preserve the building to death. If Narkomfin were fully restored it would definitely not be as the low-cost housing solution it was intended to be. For a building to be judged “of historical interest” is another way to kill it. Like a Coliseum without gladiators, the building remains but only to make us feel smug about having moved on. The objectification of history is controlled forgetting just as destructive as demolition.


Here’s some people taking of a restored drugstore sign at the corner where the Gosstrakh apartments are.


There’s a statue of LC installed at Centrosoyuz as part of the street’s recent pedestrian conversion.

Narkomfin is a building that was ahead of its time. It’s still waiting for us to make up our minds if the potential for that time to come has gone forever, or if we’re still waiting for that time to come.

• • •


  1. Research. The Discover Moscow (architecture) website is good.
    There’s an app. APPLE  ANDROID  WINDOWS
  2. Sensible shoes.
  3. Learn the alphabet. Metro signage and guidance are in Russian only.


It’s not as difficult as you think. Here’s two to get you started.

P1040251 P1040334• • •


Misfits’ 2015 Midsummernights’ Quiz

Welcome to misfits’ 2015 Midsummernights’ Quiz! I know I know, there wasn’t one in 2014 but don’t worry – misfits haven’t gone all biennale on you. The quiz is only ever a compilation of oddities and curiosities that hadn’t yet found their way into a post. So go on – enjoy it for what it is!

Q1. First up, what’s this?


Q2. Who all-capped this on April 10?

all caps

Q3. One of the signs of a dysfunctional architecture is when buildings have active online lives but don’t know what to do outdoors. It’s increasingly common for a building to be more image that substance. Images however, are all image and no substance and this is why they have become the purest expressions of a dysfunctional architecture. Which of the following images is the odd one out?

Q4. We’re so used to looking back at images of buildings we’re becoming less and less curious about the intended user experience. Part of that experience was to appreciate a view of one’s expansive property or the views it affords. Here’s some views. Name the buildings.

Q5. Country and approximate date please.


Q6. What do you first think of when you see the following photographs?

Q7. What’s the significance of this next? 


Q8. What do you first think of when you see this image?

ALM_Museum (1)

  1. Total harmony with surroundings as strong verticals resonate with surrounding forest.
  2. Touches the ground lightly.
  3. Unapologetically industrial aesthetic.
  4. Looks a bit like the previous building.
  5. For such a simple building, it manages to look extremely pretentious.

Q9. Who lives here?


Q10. What do you notice about this washbasin? [Clue: washbasin]



kth_engQ1. It’s Arata Isozaki’s once-famous Marilyn Ruler derived from, one can all-too-easily imagine, a shot or shots from Playboy’s 1949 Marilyn Monroe “Red Velvet” photoshoots. In his early buildings, Isozaki claimed to use this ruler whenever he wanted a “sensuous” curve …… such as in the Kamioka Town Hall 1976-78. If you weren’t alive then, be glad – they were horrible times.

all capsQ2. An easy one! The answer’s Patrick Schumacher on Facebook. The most important thing I’ve learned from this man is to stay away from the keyboard if I’ve had a drink. 

AGAQ3. The correct answer is C. It has been built and is the Art Gallery of Alberta. When winter arrives I’ll no doubt agonise over the real-world function of architectural invention as we currently understand it but right now it’s summer so I’ll let it slide.


Regarding Fallingwater, has anyone ever seen a photograph of the eponymous falling water taken from the living room terrace? Do we care?


Not really. Ol’ Frankie wasn’t the first, and certainly not the last, architect to get a wealthy client to pay for their media content.


It would be an interesting exercise to design a house – in the style of Wright – for the spot Mr. Kaufmann originally envisioned his house would be.


F-R.van't Hoff, Villa Huis ter Heide, Netherlands 1915

F-R.van’t Hoff, Villa Huis ter Heide, Netherlands 1915

Q6. It’s not a Rorschach Test, but your answer may indicate you’ve had too much architecture this past year. For want of a correct answer, architectons is the correct answer.

The early career of Zaha Hadid and, for all we know, THE ENTIRE FUTURE OF 20TH CENTURY ARCHITECTURE might have taken a different turn had Kazimir Malevich used sand instead of plaster. The physical impermanence of sandcastles is something we learn at an early age as our parents tell us pick up our buckets and shovels and get a move on. These sandcastles use an inexpensive and impermanent medium to allow us to enjoy gratuitous form-making for the fun of it. This is vastly more responsible than using the medium of architecture. Take a bow, Calvin Seiberg.


Q7 It’s Le Corbusier’s Villa Harris. Designed in 1930 for a Swedish-American Marguerite Tjader Harris. (For some reason, she’s usually mentioned as the Swedish-American heiress Marguerite Tjader Harris.) It was never built. She divorced Overton Harris in 1933. Le Corbusier designed this house for her in 1930. When their long-term affair began is conjectural. According to kiss-and-tell Tjader Harris, he “was not a complicated man, not even an intellectual, in the narrow meaning of the word. He lived by his faith and emotions.”

ALM_Museum (1)Q8 The correct answer is 5) It manages to look extremely pretentious for such a simple building. It does this by using few resources and simple techniques to do something that, if it needed doing at all, could have been done much more easily – by simply building on the adjacent ledge, for example. If this building is a lookout of some kind, one would have been looking out from just as high. The project is a zinc mine museum in Allmannajuvet, Norway.

peter-zumthor-allmannajuvet-norway-zinc-mine-project-ryfylke-designboom-01Here’s another building from the same project. Take an unpretentious building and, rather than build it on the stone wall, hang it off the edge. Peter Zumthor’s genius is to give complex buildings a devious simplicity. We know we’re looking at “architecture” but we quite can’t pin down where the necessary wastage is.

Bill-Gates-House_1Q9 Bill & Melinda Gates. The most unusual thing about this house is how little we know about it. It breaks the historic pattern of using architecture to flaunt wealth. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t used to flaunt other things. At the time of its construction, the media was flooded with articles describing its technical “innovations” that, curiously, have not come to pass.

809432_809432_Abisko-WashbasinQ10 The problem of overflowing has been ingeniously solved by making it impossible for the basin to ever fill! The English word ‘basin’ does not do it justice.

Misfits’ Hit List

Yes, it’s that time of the year again for a quick roundup of who’s searching for what and see how it compares to misfits’ all-time hit list. We’ll never know if they found what they were looking for but there is data for where it got them. First of all, here’s the all- time list of popular search terms, unedited.

All Time

Search Views
ak 47 3,756
microprocessor 2,140
hannes meyer 941
sanaa 691
unite d’habitation 630
unite d’habitation plan 507
unitè d’habitation 491
villa savoye 419
ak-47 397
le corbusier unite d’habitation 393
unité d’habitation 314
tv tower 239
eileen gray 237
le corbusier unité d’habitation 214
le corbusier unitè d’habitation 205
unité d’habitation plan 199
unite d’habitation floor plan 197
jungfraujoch 172
antonio sant’elia 147
microprocessors 130
barajas airport 125
unite habitation 113
oil rig 112
villa savoye site plan 112
yakhchal 111
hannes meyer bauhaus 110
unite d’habitation plans 108
domino house 106
domino system 96
maison jaoul 93
irving gill 91
corbusier unite d’habitation 87
unité d’habitation le corbusier 79
villa savoye plan 76
portland building 76
auguste perret 75
le corbusier plan 75
tv towers 74
unité d’habitation berlin 74
steiner house 73
sanaa architecture 71
josefa moreu 71
unite d’habitation floor plans 71
unitè d’habitation le corbusier 70
dogma architecture 70
bauhaus 67
unite d’habitation le corbusier 67
prosopis cineraria 65
michael graves 63
al madina supermarket 61
misfitsarchitecture 61
madrid airport 60
michael graves portland building 58
le corbusier plans 58
misfits architecture 57
lincoln house mary otis stevens 57
big architects 57
superstudio 55
michael graves portland 55
melltorp 54
unite d habitation 54
le corbusier unite d’habitation plan 54
diagrid structure 51
halley iv 51
unitè d’habitation plan 50
unite le corbusier 50
sant’elia 50
wolkenbugel 50
unite d’habitation grundriss 49
unité d’habitation plans 48
mary otis stevens 48
weissenhofsiedlung 48
unite d’habitation section 47
diagrid 47
peter eisenman 46
maisons jaoul 45
tashkent tower 44
plan unité d’habitation 44
cctv structure 43
guangzhou opera house plans 42
chaparral 2j 42
villa savoye site 41
cctv building structure 40
guangzhou opera house 40
oil rigs 40
television tower 40
fair landscape 39
villa savoye orientation 39
le corbusier floor plans 39
beijing national stadium structure 38
unite d’habitation berlin 38
eileen gray architecture 38
space architecture 38
unite d’habitation marseille plan 37
brick country house 37
peter zumthor 2014 37
vernacular architecture 36
sanaa plan 36
pier luigi nervi 36
unite de habitation 35
eileen gray e1027 35
villa savoye dimensions 35
auguste perret rue franklin 35
microprocessor images 35
eileen gray house 34
valve to prevent water from gravity feeding 34
portland building michael graves 34
unité d’habitation 34
plan unité d’habitation le corbusier 34
villa savoye aerial view 34
madame savoye 34
ак 47 33
offshore rig 33
guild house venturi 32
unite d habitation plan 32
tashkent tv tower 32
diagrid detail 32
al noor mosque sharjah 32
corbusier unite d’habitation plan 32
cap martin 31
islamic architecture 31
paris opera house 30
corbusier unite 30
unité d’habitation marseille plan 30
niemeyer berlin 30
villa savoye plans 29
unite d’habitation marseille plans 29
lincoln house stevens 28
corbusier unité d’habitation 28
weissenhof 28
villa savoye location 28
unite corbusier 28
disguised mobile phone masts 28
basic design in architecture 27
paris opera house staircase 27
villa savoye inside 27
villa savoye floor plan 27
al noor mosque 27
villa savoye aerial 27
unité d’habitation le corbusier plan 26
twisted architecture 26
sanaa housing 26
robert venturi guild house 26
chicago school of architecture 26
ensco 104 26
unite habitation plan 25
villa savoye surroundings 25
le corbusier apartment 25
villa savoye construction 24
graves portland building 24
english for architects 24
madina supermarket 24
chicago school architecture 24
hannes meyer architecture 24
ikea melltorp 23
misfit architecture 23
shell structures 23
dogma architects 23
orientation villa savoye 23
hannes meyer architect 23
seagram building 23
peter eisenman house iii 23
mary otis stevens lincoln house 23
sanaa leaking architecture 23
le corbusier marseille plan 23
corbusier 23
le corbusier unite d habitation 23
bauhaus drawing 23
lc6 22
portland michael graves 22
unitè d’habitation berlino 22
mies van der rohe brick house 22
cctv facade 22
apple store new york 22
pepeta moreu 22
domino house le corbusier 22
carbon fiber table 22
unitè d’habitation de le corbusier 22
opera garnier plan 22
useful buildings 21
microprocessor architecture 21
le corbusier unite d’habitation floor plan 21
unite d’ habitation 21
big architecture 21
adolf loos 21
bauhaus hannes meyer 21
le corbusier floor plan 21
corbusier plan 21
beijing national stadium structural plan 21
beehive 21
parametric architecture 20
offshore oil rig 20
diagrid construction 20
materials architecture antarctica 20
falconcity of wonders 20
farnsworth house plan 20
different types of palm trees diagram 20
depero 20
zaha hadid architecture 20
maison jaoul le corbusier 20
al madina supermarket dubai 19
villa savoye bad 19
karama metro station 19
maisons jaoul le corbusier 19
unité d’habitation grundriss 19
prosopis cineraria tree 19
unite d’ habitation plan 19
unité d’habitation floor plan 19
villa savoye bathroom 19
mukesh ambani car parking 18
cctv diagrid 18
unité d’habitation marseille 18
portland building graves 18
le corbusier unite 18
unite d’habitation marseilles 18
beijing stadium structure 18
corbusier table 18
frederick kiesler 18
brick house mies van der rohe 18
muslim mosque 17
tower tv 17
guangzhou opera house plan 17
sydney opera house inside 17
corbusier unite plan 17
shading devices 17
unité le corbusier 17
villa savoye floor plan dimensions 17
perret rue franklin 17
sanaa diagram 17
sun shading devices 17
diagrid architecture 17
rokko housing 17
venus project 17
villa savoye structure 17
le corbusier apartment plan 17
shell structure 17
le corbusier habitation 17
riba pylon competition 17
patrik schumacher logo 16
farnsworth house details 16
all towers 16
a k 47 16
mukesh ambani house 16
hannes meyer petersschule 16
villa savoye 16
guangzhou opera house section 16
rigs 16
zaha hadid architects 16
auguste perret casa in rue franklin 16
unite d’habitation pläne 16
unite d habitation floor plan 16
plan sanaa 16
oil rig fire 16
mies van der rohe brick country house 15
peter eisenman architecture 15
the emperor’s new clothes 15
frank lloyd wright buildings 15
heating hannes meyer 15
diagrid cctv 15
brick country house mies van der rohe 15
big archi 15
weissenhof stuttgart 15
image of microprocessor 15
barmpton 15
images of microprocessor 15
unité d’habitation marseille grundriss 15
unité habitation 15
villa savoye problems 15
unité d’habitation berlin grundriss 14
hannes meyer school 14
sanaa almere 14
cctv building section 14
small fiberglass pools 14
pier luigi nervi buildings 14
sanaa house 14
cctv building diagram 14
paris opera house floor plan 14
picture of microprocessor 14
grundriss unite d’habitation 14
the villa savoye 14
george fred keck 14
steiner house adolf loos 14
mcnulty house lincoln ma 14
statue of liberty interior structure 14
chicago 1890 14
big architect 14
television towers 14
cctv section 14
al hamra palace spain 14
great towers 14
dymaxion house 14
casa de la rue franklin 14
what is the point of architecture 14
ak 47 type 2 14
fountain marcel duchamp 13
le corbusier unite plan 13
cumberland terrace 13
villa savoye construction details 13
meyer hannes 13
villa domino 13
thomas mcnulty architect 13
burj al arab 13
melltorp table 13
irving gill architecture 13
hannes meyer quotes 13
graves portland 13
le corbusier’s unite d’habitation 13
astana architecture 13
genpei akasegawa, shinbo minami, tetsuo matsuda, and joji hayashi 13
paris opera house section 13
habitation corbusier 13
eileen gray e1027 house 13
brise soleil marsiglia le corbusier 13
dodge house irving gill 13
rue franklin apartments 13
le corbusier berlin unite d’habitation 13
pylon design 13
villa e 1027 12
sanaa houses 12
interlocking apartment 12
sukhoi 12
su 37 12
irving gill dodge house 12
unite d’habitation plan 12
the microprocessor 12
paris opera house plan 12
le corbusier marseille plans 12
shell structure architecture 12
cctv building construction 12
ak47 12
sanaa architects 12
space station architecture 12
madrid barajas airport 12
unite dhabitation plan 12
venturi guild house 12
perret notre dame du raincy 12
adolf loos steiner house 12
bashar al shawa 12
wolkenbugel el lissitzky 12
tv tower tashkent 12
e1027 12
el lissitzky architecture 12
dubai opera house plan 12
dogma a simple heart 12
micro processor 12
sydney opera house interior 12
villa savoye concept 12
lincoln house stevens mcnulty 12
scott base antarctica 12
seagram building structure 11
corbusier firminy 11
törten dessau meyer 11
pyramid of peace 11
unite habitation le corbusier 11
unite d’habitation marseilles floor plan 11
unite d`habitation 11
azuma house 11
eilen gray 11
unité d’habitation corbusier 11
garnier opera house 11
architecture 11
e 1027 11
frank lloyd wright taliesin 11
fortunato depero 11
e-1027 house 11
site plan of villa savoye 11
cctv foundation 11
honey bee 11
perret casa in rue franklin 11
adalberto libera 11
though the great expanses of glass that he favors may occasionally turn his rooms into hothouses, his flat roofs may leak and his plans may be wasteful of space, it was architect le corbusier who in 1923 put the entire philosophy of modern architecture into a single sentence: “a house is a machine to live in 11
le corbusier maison jaoul 11
islamic mosque 11
beatriz colomina, eileen gray and le corbusier 11
nervi 11
zig zag brick alvar aalto 11
paris opera house horizontal plan 11
futurist architecture italy 11
guild house robert venturi 11
umayyad mosque 11
savoye 11
shit shapes 11
villa savoye plans with dimensions 11
stevens mcnulty house 11
okurayama apartments sanaa 11
le corbusier apartments 11
michael graves buildings 11
flying saucer 11
system domino 11
farnsworth house blueprints 11
friedrich kiesler 11
wolkenbugel by el lissitzky 1925 11
dom-ino le corbusier 11
domino le corbusier 10
keck crystal house 10
plans of unite d’habitation 10
symbiosis gray-badovici 10
le corbusier domino 10
karlsplatz 10
irving gill images 10
norman foster sketches 10
otto wagner karlsplatz 10
roquebrune cap martin 10
unité d’habitation of berlin 10
charles garnier 10
small fiberglass swimming pools 10
cctv oma 10
astana pyramid 10
casa franklin perret 10
unité d’habitation floorplan 10
le corbusier unité d’habitation plan 10
irving gill architect 10
concrete diagrid structure 10
guild house 10
qatar national convention centre in doha by arata isozaki sezione 10
le corbusier jaoul 10
chaparral 10
al karama metro station 10
bathroom skylight 10
микропроцессор 10
venturi antarctica 10
mary otis stevens and thomas mcnulty 10
fair store chicago 10
hannes mayer 10
almere sanaa 10
richard rogers barajas 10
the venus project 10
frederick kiesler + nesting table 10
antonio sant’elia 10
brick country house mies 10
arm microprocessor 10 10
most expensive faberge egg pictures 10
eileen gray e 1027 10
chicago steel frame 10
oil rig on fire 10
double sided elevator 10
diagrid structure details 10
petrol station coverages 10
unite de habitation plan 10
offshore rigs 10
mosque 10
kiesler endless house 10
chaparral car 10
microprocessor arm996hs 10
jungfraujoch observatory 10
orientation architecture 10
sharjah mosque 10
villa savoye basement 10
francois hennebique 10
japanese house plans 10
bauhaus fest 1925 10
e 1027 house eileen gray 10
le corbusier villa savoye 10
famous floor plans corridor 10
shukhov tower 3d model 10
richard+rogers+madrid 10
unite d habitation plans 10
unite d’habitation plans sections 10
unite d habitation grundriss 10
villa savoye materials 9
plan of unite d’habitation 9
hannes meyer en la bauhaus 9
unite d’habitation plan dimensions 9
hennebique frame 9
cassina lc6 9
perspective section 9
structural engineering art 9
ак-47 9
guggenheim museum 9
villa savoye floor plans 9
بيت ستينر 9
whats the point of architecture 9
santelia 9
fan car 9
villa savoye brick 9
le corbusier unité d’habitation marseille 9
unité d’habitation plan 9
barajas airport madrid 9
unité d’habitation marseilles plan 9
richard rogers madrid airport 9
michael graves architecture 9
le corbusier unitè 9
le corbusiers unité d’habitation plans 9
al hambra 9
pylon competition 9
offshore oil platform 9
deepwater horizon 9
plan villa savoye 9
ancient muslim architecture 9
corbusier habitation 9
richard rogers madrid 9
new objectivity architechture 9
opéra garnier plan 9
villa savoye ground floor dimensions 9
shit shapes 9
cutaway reinforced concrete for column 9
exposition crystal house by george keck 1934 9
Unknown search terms 26,683
AK-47 remains the top all time and yearly search term.
Here’s something you probably didn’t know. I didn’t, until just then.
The AK-47 was mentioned in an early post as an example of something that may not look that great as the M-16 or similar devices might, but it works. The magazine of the AK-47 is not curved because it looks good. I hope the people who searched AK-47 apply this thinking to the built environment where it can hopefully be put to better use.
The top ten architects searched were as follows. Again, I’ve linked back to the relevant posts.
  • I expect that Hannes Meyer, Mary Otis Stevens/Thomas McNulty, Irving Gill and Superstudio feature on this list because there isn’t much information newly available on the internet about them. You’re welcome. 
  • And I imagine that some people come to this blog after searching SANAA, Sant’Elia, Bauhaus and BIG because, with the number of students probably searching those terms, chances are they will.

The Top Ten searched buildings were …

unite ‘habitation plan 3920
villa savoye 1114
CCTV diagrid structure 366
E1027 eileen gray 310
Michael Graves Portland building 300
lincoln house mary otis stevens thomas mcnulty 215
jungfraujoch 172
unite d’habitation berlin 171
irving gill dodge house 149
yakhchal 107
Unité d’Habitation remains the clear winner. This probably reflects the number of architecture students in the world and how little the education of architects has progressed in the past 50 years. Kids, make sure you see how understand how crap the lower apartment is, OK?
Homework: Use the floor layout above, to calculate how many apartments can actually have the plan commonly presented as (and thus thought to be) typical.
Here’s a studio apartment. From the same floor layout plan above, estimate the minimum number of them.
Unité Marseilles 18th floor studio 2Unité Marseilles 18th floor studio

With all its search input variations, the Unité d’Habitations was remains the clear winner and, of those searches, the majority were for the section and/or the plan. At last – somebody’s drawn an new section! Here you go!


Villa Savoye info for student purposes is far more abundant elsewhere but, it’s It’s nice to see Eileen Gray’s E1027 and Irving Gill’s Dodge House make the list.

Eileen Gray E1027

Letting people know about these wonderful yet unpretentious houses is one of the main reasons this blog exists.
Irving Gill Dodge House

And for the Sphinx Observatory at Jungfraujoch as well – a personal favourite.


As is the Lincoln House – my adolescent shapeist infatuation. I’m well over it now of course, but the memory of that first crush remains. I’ll always think of this building fondly.

lincoln house aerial

The Stevens/McNnulty Lincoln House makes the list because there is very little about it on the internet. I speculate on why that is, here.
lincoln house front
The only vernacular building making the list was yachchal. There is also very little new information about these. Views of this post spike occasionally.
So, with all this searching, what did people find? As I mentioned, once people clicked on a page, it’s impossible to know if they read or learned anything or if they downloaded or copied anything. But, for what it’s worth, here’s where they went –

The All-Time Top Ten Misfits Posts

All Time

Title   Views
Home page / Archives   32,886
The Things Architects Do   12,010
The Microprocessor is Not Trying to Look Beautiful   8,900
The Things Architects Believe #1   5,223
The Things Architects Do #3: SANAA   4,374
The DARKER Side of Villa Savoye   3,036
Architecture Misfit #1: Hannes Meyer   2,463
The Things Architects Do #2: Ornament   2,248
The Television Tower is Not Trying to Look Beautiful   1,936
The New Architecture of Austerity   1,916
Architecture Misfit #3: Eileen Gray   1,542
The Dark Side of the Villa Savoye   1,344
Inspirations for Performance-Beauty Architecture   1,220

There’s actually thirteen there. The first doesn’t count since it’s the home page at any given time.

The Things Architects Do reflects the number of people searching for information on Le Corbusier, the Villa Savoye and the unités d’habitations.


The Microprocessor is Not Trying to Look Beautiful probably reflects the number of insurgents, freedom fighters, rebel forces and other interested parties looking for information on AK-47 assault rifles, not to mention government internet monitoring organisations wanting to find out information on people who want that information. I’d just like to mention that misfits’ architecture is only interested in the AK-47 as the inspiration for a new type of building aesthetic that is the result of designing something that works.


The Things Architects Believe #1 is a catch-all post that includes information on Le Corbusier and concrete (he didn’t really invent it), Auguste Perret (who didn’t either) and other facts it’s useful to remember.

The Things Architects Do #3: SANAA is probably a reflection of who’s hot right now, and who’s a student favourite or figure to aspire to. I’m no great fan of SANAA but am pleased to offer an alternative opinion from the general fawning puff pieces one reads these days.


The DARKER Side of Villa Savoye dares to suggest that Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye is something less than a shrine to all that is good in the world of architecture. Can you think of a movie star who was never really a good actor – or even popular – but, long after they stopped making movies, became famous for being famous? The Villa Savoye is a bit like that. Who would the Villa Savoye be? Email me suggestions.

the Villa Savoye being constructed

the Villa Savoye being constructed

Architecture Misfit #1: Hannes Meyer It is the misfits’ belief that if the principles Hannes Meyer was proposing back in the 1930 had been followed up and improved upon in the time since, we would have much better buildings today. Additionally, that humanity would do well to get back to that fork in the road and follow the other path.

Hannes Meyer, Access Balcony Housing, 1929

Hannes Meyer, Access Balcony Housing, 1929

The Things Architects Do #2: Ornament was a quick history of people using decoration and ornament to fool themselves into thinking that buildings are more than they are.


The Television Tower is Not Trying to Look Beautiful was just me using the example of another highly functional object to illustrate that ornament is not really necessary. This post is surprisingly popular. I don’t know why it should be more popular than any other post in the XXX is Not Trying to Look Beautiful series. Remember, the tree is not trying to look beautiful.  


The New Architecture of Austerity highlighted a few trends in what’s considered to be architecture these days. Most of these trends resulted from trying to make architecture using less effort or resources. It would be good if those efforts weren’t misdirected to the making of pretentious architecture of little or no use.

other stuff

Architecture Misfit #3: Eileen Gray is our only heroine so far. E1027 embodies much of what architecture is trying to be now. If anyone says that Modernism (as a philosophy, not a style) had no heart or soul, then they do not know of E1027. The world is about to rediscover Eileen Gray. Blame Le Corbusier for her being sidelined in the first place. Oh, and read the post.

Eileen Gray E1027

The Dark Side of the Villa Savoye is probably the first piece of Villa Savoye bashing that many people encounter. No building is perfect but it is a call for keeping it real, and admitting that VS had a few problems, some of which were construction related, some design-related, and some were just the prejudices of the times.

Inspirations for Performance-Beauty Architecture could just be more people searching for info on AK-47s but we like to think not. This post sets out the inspirations for an architecture where performance beauty replaces visual beauty as the only type of endeavour of relevance for architecture.

Sukhoi SU-37

This post was an early one and remains an ongoing theme of this blog. The flow of posts may drift from this theme occasionally, but will always return to it.

2013 Misfits’ Midsummernights’ Quiz

Welcome to the 2013 Misfits’ Midsummernights’ Quiz! It’s being brought to you from London and so has a bit of a British theme. As is now usual, answers are at the bottom of the post – no cheating! To kick off, we’ll start with a question about out the 2013 winner of the WTF! Prize.

Q1: Name the inspiration for the central design feature on this building at Dubai Marina. 

Q2: Okay, so where’s this then?

caryatids Q3: The construction cost of the Millennium Dome was the largest of these four London buildings. Which of the others weighed in second? Was it City Hall? London Aquatics Centre? 30 St. Mary Axe?

££ Q4: Take a quick look at this next building. What does it remind you of?

st mary

Q5: Do you notice anything special about this set of drawings? 

villa savoye basement Q6: Who said “Money spent to build more than necessary is wasted money”?

  1. Hannes Meyer
  2. Diébédo Francis Kéré
  3. Karel Teige
  4. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe



Q7: Who said “There will always be a place for exuberant architecture”?

  1. His Royal Highness Prince Charles
  2. Dame Zaha Hadid, DBE
  3. Baron Foster of Thames Bank
  4. Peter Zumthor

Exuberant architecture Q8: What do these four ladies have in common?

foour pic Q9: Who said “”It is fine to take from the same well – but not from the same bucket.”

  1. Mickey Mouse
  2. Dame Zaha Hadid, DBE
  3. The Mona Lisa
  4. Huckleberry Finn


Q10: Let’s not talk about La Zaha anymore. Who are the people occupying the same space as La Zaha in these photos? 

A. zaha_smithson 1984




zaha stella



 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

ANSWER TO Q1: Yes, that’s right! It’s John Nash’s All Souls Church of 1824, where Regent’s Park Road meets Euston Road in London. (All Souls Church is now on Facebook btw!)

All_Souls_8014 Nash’s little church was not well liked at the time. One contemporary review went …

To our eye, the church itself, apart from the tower, (for such it almost is) is perhaps, one of the most miserable structures in the metropolis,—in its starved proportions more resembling a manufactory, or warehouse, than the impressive character of a church exterior; an effect to which the Londoner is not an entire stranger. Here, too, we are inclined to ascribe much of the ridicule, which the whole church has received, to its puny proportions and scantiness of decoration, which are far from being assisted by any stupendousness in their details, the first impression of which might probably have fixed the attention of the spectator. Indeed, the whole style of the tower and steeple appears peculiarly illadapted for so small a scale as has here been attempted.

Nash was lampooned in the contemporary press.

nasional taste

ANSWER TO Q2: Just a bit down the road. Yes, that’s right! This is St. Pancras New Church (1822), also on Euston Road, London. Only two years separate this church from All Souls Church. Both formed part of a defensive line of church building along Euston Road to counter the godlessness of anything north. This porch is not to be confused with the Erechtheion which is somewhere else.

ErechtheumOnAcropolis ANSWER TO Q3: London Olympic Swimming Pool came it at £269 mil. – or at least it did as far as the accounting can be trusted. This is only £3 mil. more than 30 St Mary’s Axe which used up £266 mil. of somebody’s money. With a lettable floor area of 516,100 sq.ft this works out at £515/sq.ft, considerably more than the £376/sq.ft for the 130,000 sq.ft lettable floor area of City Hall which cost a mere £49 mil. to build. The Millennium Dome cost £789 mil. – again, if the accounting is to be A) believed and B) has anything like a shared baseline. “According to the UK National Audit Office, the total cost of The Dome at the liquidation of the New Millennium Experience Company in 2002 was £789 million, of which £628 million was covered by National Lottery grants and £189 million through sales of tickets etc.” etc. etc.

ANSWER TO Q4: If your answer was something along the lines of anything in the next image, famously drawn by Rem Koolhaas’ other missus, then you are wrong. Sorry.

gherkin 'meanings'Full marks if it reminded you of Paul Laffoley’s 2003 proposal for the site that came to be occupied by Minoru Yamasaki’s World Trade Center.

It’s a reworking of the “Grand Hotel” that Gaudí designed for much the same site in 1908.

gaudi grand 2 (Muchas gracias por el link, loslugarestienenmemoria.) Laffoley wrote in 2001 

Now that Ground Zero is but a gaping wound on the body of New York City and in the soul of America, many have speculated as to what to do at the site of the violent laceration. I believe one thing is clear, that in order to begin the healing process, whatever is placed there must not proceed from the same living ego impulse that motivated Yamasaki.  That is why I feel Gaudí’s Grand Hotel would be the appropriate solution. Several facts support this idea: first, the Hotel was planned for the site in 1903; second, Gaudí has been dead for seventy-five years; third, the Hotel would function as a celebration of life, for which New York City is famous; fourth, it could act as a permanent memorial for all those who lost their lives in the disaster; and fifth, it would take the combined efforts of the entire artistic and architectural communities of New York City and other areas to bring the building into being.

At the time, I wrote,

“I’ve never thought the world needed another Gaudí building but I do now. His Grand Hotel proposal was an optimistic vision of a bright future in 1908 but is much more now. It reminds us that we still have to build one – and to do that we have to be able to imagine one first. It is already a memorial to what we have lost. This building is as much of a correction as we can hope for. Hats off to Paul Laffoley for proposing it.”

I still think so. My point was not whether the building is a facsimile or simulcrum of what the architect would have overseen, but whether the vision was still valid.  The physical manifestation of an architect’s oeuvre is not the question. It is whether the proposal (by the original architect or someone else) is a accurate reflection of the zeitgeist. I liked to think that Laffoley’s proposal (of Gaudí’s proposal) would have been, but what now stands there is. Sadly.

ANSWER TO Q5: First let’s have another look!

villa savoye basement Yes, the building has a basement that is not normally shown, presumably because it is totally devoid of any kind of architectural invention – apart from the stairs down, that is. Once in the basement, even the balustrade disappears. See Section B-B.

villa savoye chimney That should have been a clue. To the left of the stairs as you go up from the basement must be the boiler since there’s a chimney on all the floors above. That’s it by the radiator. Now that radiator would have been coal-fired. Since the basement is divided into two spaces, the one with the door is probably the coal store. I’d expect to see the opening of a coal delivery chute in the driveway outside the side door but this next photo shows how it could appear, except that what we see is one structural bay away from where a chute would discharge. It’s probably a trap for the bathroom drains. If there had been a coal chute, it was probably covered up in the 1985 renovations – the same ones in which the ground floor washbasin was relocated to the other side of the column. Who’d want to know about a boiler anyway?

villa_savoye_05But this summer, why not go visit and check out the basement? Rent the Monument for your events!‘ Someone’s gotta pay those bills – why not you?


I found the drawing for this question on the Italian site archweb. There was also this which is worth a look as you don’t see very often, perhaps because the proportions are so awkward. Why did The Great Man put windows on the cantilevered bits when he didn’t on the mothership?? The extra window area wasn’t necessary there, and nor was it necessary here. It sort of leads one to conclude that LC was making it up as he went along.

ANSWER TO Q6: This was Diébédo Francis Kéré. Nowhere in any misfits’ post was this mentioned, but you should have guessed from this photograph. Tsk tsk.

Burkina Faso school ANSWER TO Q7: The full answer was Dame Zaha Hadid, DBE, in response replying to a question about the future of her company’s aesthetic in a time of economic downturn. I forget where. Trust me on this.

Zaha Hadid ANSWER TO Q8: They are all British National Treasures – in a manner of speaking. All have received birthday honours from the Queen and have the right to be called Dame. From top left, there is Dame Shirley Bassey who was made a Commander of the British Empire in 2000, Dame Barbara Windsor who received her CBE in 2000 also for her long career in entertainment (a.k.a. the the Carry On series of movies

Carry On Doctor One Sheet 1972 and Eastenders. You can catch up quickly on almost 30 years of episodes here.

EastEnders_Title The last image is of Professor Tina Lavender of the School of Nursing at the University of Manchester, who received hers for services to Midwifery. I think that’s right – the honours list is complicated. See here for the full 2012 list. Dame Zaha Hadid recieved her DBE in 2012 for services to architecture, but there’s no information on what exactly those services were.

ANSWER TO Q9A: The guy with the white hair is Peter Smithson who, along with his wife Alison, were known as The Smithsons. I’m not making this up! At the beginning, they were a bit Miesey,

Hunstanton-Photograph-522x400pxbut then got a bit brutal. Here’s their Robin Hood Gardens project from 1972 – an embarrassing reminder to every British government since, that housing (like education, healthcare and employment) used to once be part of the social contract between a government and its people.

Robin_Hood_Gardens_AP_Smithson The Smithsons didn’t really get the hang of the witty referencing thing. The ivy is doing its university best but wisteria might be better suited to that framey thing happening.

the-smithsons-garden-building-st-hildas-college-oxford-1967-1970_lThe home The Smithsons designed for the 1956 Ideal Sexist Home Exhibition is an enduring internet presence. 

smithsons ideal home ANSWER TO Q9B: That would have to be Remment Koolhaas. Both him and her went on to have  successful commercial architectural practices at the turn of the century.

ANSWER TO Q9C: Stella McCartney. We don’t know what it is they both found so interesting up there.

ANSWER TO Q9D:  Who else but Patrik Schumacher? He wrote a book called The Autopoiesis of Architecture. I haven’t read it yet. You probably haven’t either.


Misfits’ All-Time Top 10 Hits

Misfit friends! It’s been more than a year now so here’s an “all-time” progress report on what’s been going on, based on statistics from those nice folks at WordPress. Most people who find this blog find it via a search engine, and search engines, as you know, only give back what you put into them. So, to those people who searched “what is microprocessor” (5), “melltorp help” (5), “đơn vị ở lớn marseille” (5), “oil” (5),  “zaha hadid shelter” (6), “burj a la rab” (7), and “where can i get ornamental architecture” (6), I hope you find what you were looking for. It wasn’t here. As we say in English, “go somewhere else”. We guess you did.

Sometimes, with search engines it’s good to just take a chance. To the eleven (11!) people who input “though the great expanses of glass that he favors may occasionally turn his rooms into hothouses, his flat roofs may leak and his plans may be wasteful” into google, well done! That would have taken you straight to The DARKER Side of the Villa Savoye, a classic post on a classic theme of ours.

Three and a bit times less astonishingly, 34 people input “valve to prevent water from gravity feeding”.

They would have been directed to Bashar’s post The Beauty I see in Al Hambra that describes Al Hambra’s ingenious system of water supply. Mind you, the actual sentence was “the engineers built several reservoirs on high ground, so that gravity would ensure a constant flow of water to feed the gardens.” Just for the record.

Some other people whose names we do not know, used terms such as “shit shapes” (9), “masdar bullshit” (5) “What’s the point of architecture” (7) and “architects bullshit” (6) to arrive at the misfits blogsite. Please send us your CVs.

Anyway, without further ado …  we now present the 2012 MISFITS’ TOP TEN SEARCH TERMS starting, of course, from No.10. In these rankings, we’ve gathered together similar terms, especially for the more difficult-to-spell terms.

No.10 Eileen Gray (81 hits)

Eileen Gray is the only female misfit. [Since I wrote that, we can now include Ann Lacaton of Lacaton and Vassal – see Architecture Misfits #6: Lacaton & Vassal.] Fittingly, Eileen Gray’s E1027 house doesn’t fit in with anything except its location and climate. It may have been one of the first high-performance houses, or maybe she was just working with local knowledge and a feel for the climate, and wanted a house that was pleasant to live in. Crazy huh? And who are these people? And what are they doing there? Find out at Architecture Misfit No.3: Eileen Gray.

No.9 Prosopis cineraria (99 hits)

This search term took people to The Process Behind a Better Architecture Building where they maybe learned a little bit about the Ghaf tree.

It needs hardly any water, and when it does, can send roots down 30m to find it. It can survive being buried in sand. It’s connected to every organism, animal, bird and insect in the desert ecosystem. These very useful characteristics are probably related to its rather dull green colour which, unfortunately, means that it’s never used as a street tree in the UAE (although I have noticed more of them being planted to stabilise the sand alongside intercity highways).

No.8 Barajas Airport (145 hits)

Most people were probably looking for this picture of a design feature that’s a bit dubious since, even if you know your colours, you still have to know your big numbers to find your departure gate. The accepted story is thus patronising bullshit. Besides, the colours could have been blended better methinks. But not that I care. Buen Viaje!

No.7 Jungfraujoch (191 hits)

This one’s an old favourite. The Sphinx Observatory, alternatively known as Jungfraujoch, is maybe not the cutest building in the world, but it has an important job to do in a environment that can be very nasty at times. Should it have been built to be more ‘in keeping’ with its surroundings? We think it’s just fine the way it is.

No.6 CCTV diagrid structure (275 hits)

We suspect that most of these searchers were looking for this image. Here it is from previous post The Things Architects Do #2: Ornament.

And there’s also the following image from September 2011’s The New Architecture of Austerity. This wall detail clearly shows that the pattern we see on the outside is not, in fact, what’s actually holding up the building. In the drawing it’s called “diagrid cladding” – in the sense of diagrid-patterned cladding elements – and is totally separate from the structural diagrid members linking the structural columns inside the building. (Maybe that’s what the person in the section is trying to point out). But are you fine with this? We’re not. Notice that the actual structure is smaller than its expression. Basically, what this means for life on earth is that showing everybody how clever you are, is more important than being clever. As such, this is the most depressing cladding sectional detail ever. Cheers for that Remment Koolhaus now can’t you please just go somewhere else?

No.5 Villa Savoye (434 hits)

Altogether, these included general searches (128) and people (146) interested about the site plan which, as you know from Bashar’s post The DARKER Side of the Villa Savoye is a bit “schoolboy”. A further 19 people were specifically curious about “villa savoye orientation”. Many people were sourcing dimensions, probably because their instructor told them they had to make a model or smmn. Other notable searches included “villa savoye materials” (5), “villa savoye problems” (7), “villa savoye heating” (5), and “villa savoye bad” (8). We hope you all found something you could use or think about. Maybe some of you tracked down the original client vs. LC correspondence about the bathroom skylight, the terrace leaks, the lawsuits and support our stance that IT WAS NOT A HAPPY HOUSE (even before WWII). Here’s a gratuitous picture. What makes this image interesting is that the building has been defaced digitally.

To me, this says something about how our opinions of buildings are formed by images. At first, some of us may have thought “how could they??!!” and then it turns out, they didn’t, and then the thought is “but hang on, they did!!!” But all they defaced was an image we had in our minds and, such is they mystery of the human mind, we know VS has been restored to extra-virgin anyway. What can one conclude? “Graffiti ain’t what it used to be?” Or, “CAMISA, CLOUDINHO BF and TONIOLO, grow some balls and do it for real!”  (And send us a photo.) Architecture has a complex relationship with this house.

No.4 Hannes Meyer (631 hits) 

We’re glad for this and proud – I mean, where else are you going to find about about Hannes Meyer? If the Bauhaus was that f*****g important, then why is he not remembered – if for nothing else, as the only guy who made it turn a profit by making useful stuff. Btw he was also the guy responsible for the Bauhaus having an architecture program – true story – but who cares about that? Thanks anyway Hannes – we miss you! You’re still Architecture Misfit No.1!

No, really, you are!

No.3 Microprocessors (1,052 hits)

Basically, microprocessors are cool. They’re not trying to beautiful. Go back to our classic post The Microprocessor Is Not Trying to Be Beautiful for details. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s what one looks like. The gold isn’t there to be fancy.

And don’t forget: There’s no such thing as an ugly microprocessor.

No.2 AK-47 (1,559 hits)

You’d think nothing could be simpler to input than AK47 but no – it’s also known as “aka 47” (6), “a k 47” (7) and “ак-47” (8). This last one’s disturbing – I mean, if Cyrillic-writing people have to use Google to source something so local and essential to life as an AK-47 then what kind of world is it we live in I ask you?!! But we forget – the AK-47 has global appeal because of its performance beauty. In a nutshell, it may not be the purrtiest thing, but it does what it does, well. (Go back to the same The Microprocessor Is Not Trying to Be Beautiful for details.) Intriguingly, ten (10) people searched for AK-47 Type II. Is it that much better? Let us know.

No.1 Unité d’Habitation (3,886 hits)

In all it’s glorious forms. Correct alphanumeric input can be a problem but think of the poor French! Fortunately, “unite habitation” (77), “unite d’habitation” (72), “unité d’habitation” (232) and “unitè d’habitation” (387) will all get you to the same place, as will “мікропроцесор” (5) and “микропроцессор” (7), whatevertf that means.

Many viewers may have been looking for these student staples – plans and sections of Corby’s Unité d’Habitations in Marseille. Here they are once again – look no more.

All this was contained in the post The Things Architects Do and which went mildly viral last October, spiking  once last November last year and consistently this March because the single point running throughout the post was that THE UNITE D’HABITATIONS IS NOT VERY GOOD. Most of my objections were to do with the wasteful planning in what is supposed to be social housing. We only ever see the ‘interlocking’ apartments even though the building contains about 35 different types of apartments. This is often explained as Corbusier providing for different family configurations and preferences (and actually, to be fair, it would be described in exactly the same way today). However, it is bullshit. Families requesting social housing are not usually able to pick and choose their apartment type. How about the family on the bottom half of the above ‘interlocking’ section. Did they ask for a plan where the only living space was at the end of the parents’ bed? [That’s a bit crap, non?] Or how about the family in the apartment at the bottom left of this plan? Did they say “We want an apartment that has windows only to the south because we would prefer to not look at the Mediterranean?”

Anyway, I won’t go into that now. For people wanting a little more information on Unité d’Habitations and how crap it is, I’ve organised the more obvious points into a table, showing how they were solved or not over the course of LC’s next four versions. Unsurprisingly, it’s the hugely flawed first attempt that’s remembered, not the improved ones. From this, we can surmise that the other four were somehow compromised by reality and therefore not fitting the narrative fiction that sustains the idea of genius.

Unités d’Habitation comparison

Editable Word doc.