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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.


Fact, Opinion, Bollocks

A fact is something we readily accept as true. We’re confident that we could somehow verify it if we wanted to.

This photograph was taken by Virgile Lafreniere using a Canon Rebel EOS 300D, 18-55 Canon II EF-S f/3.5-5.5, Kingston CF 2GB 100x.

These refer to things we didn’t know before but we don’t bother to question them because the other person seems to know more about the subject than you do. Besides, you’re not really that interested.

“I notice some noise in the northern lights that look more like JPG artifacts rather than camera noise. Reprocessing with less compression might make it go away.”

“A difficult photo as there are different lights – the one coming out of the igloo and the auroras. The result is clear details, soft colours and no noise despite highish ISO.”

These are things that can’t be verified because they are subjective. They might be true for the person who thought about them, but you might not think so yourself.   

“The igloo, isolated in its inhospitable landscape says something of man’s tenacious existence on the planet.”

“The horizontal line of the igloo entrance and the lowest part of the aurora borealis are mirrored about the horizon, alluding to how our planet mediates between us and The Universe.”

“The aurora arcs down to greet the igloo whose yellow glow extends and completes the aurora’s spectrum of reds, blues and greens.”

“The only three sources of light are the igloo, the aurora and the stars, suggesting a unity between man, the sky and the cosmos.”

(It’s worth remembering that all these thoughts were suggested by the presence of this igloo yet the person who built the igloo intended none of them! All they did was build a simple shelter using what they had.)

But this is fine – after all,

“Beauty is no quality in things themselves – it exists merely in the mind that contemplates them.”
                David Hume

If something sounds true yet you feel uneasy about it, then Personal Opinion is probably being presented as Informed Opinion. This happens a lot, especially with matters of aesthetics.


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.

Misfits’ Midsummernights’ Quiz

To fill in those long midsummer (or, for our southern hemisphere friends, mid-winter) nights, here’s some quick brainteasers. The answers are at the bottom – no cheating!

QUESTION 1: Which is older?

A: Villa Savoye?

or B: Joan Collins …

QUESTION 2: What did Frank Lloyd Wright’s mother give him to play with?



C. Froebel Blocks?

QUESTION 3: Which architect didn’t pay enough attention to sun shading? And for which house? QUESTION 4: How much does a copy of Patrik Schumacher’s “The Autopoesis of Architecture” (Vol.I) weigh?

QUESTION 5: How many rooms on the top floor of Fallingwater? Hmm? Hmm? ••• ANSWERS •••

QUESTION 1: Which is older? Okay everybody, calm down and listen. One point for those who chose A: The Villa Savoye. Nice try. It was constructed over the period 1928-1931 but, two years on, the owners were  claiming it was still uninhabitable. So … this then makes A: Joan Collins the correct answer. Two points! She was born on 23 May, 1933 and, looking a wonderful 79 years old in the above photograph. Well done Joan! Joan Collins and Villa Savoye are both tributes – no! monuments, to the power of restorative work.

QUESTION 2: Which toy did Frank Lloyd Wright’s mother give him to keep him quiet?: Froebel Blocks is the correct answer but, for anyone who chose LEGO, half points for making me laugh. (Have long and happy lives!) B, I’m sorry, is wrong because skyscrapers weren’t invented in 1876 when little Frankie’s mother is said to have come back from the Centennial Exposition with the famous toy. “Indeed, Wright’s own mother had brought him as a child into contact with the educational ideas of Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel founder of kindergarten. His philosophy was that children, when cherished and nurtured, would grow into beautiful grown-ups each unique in his or her own characteristics and qualities [bless]. Wright never failed to credit Froebel for his earliest architectural yearnings for he later stated,”The maple-wood blocks…all are in my fingers to this day.” (look here if you think I’m making this up)

QUESTION 3: Which architect didn’t pay enough attention to sun shading? And for which house? The correct answers are Peter Eisenman and House III. QUESTION 4: How much does a copy of Patrik Schumacher’s “The Autopoesis of Architecture” weigh? The book is the first of two volumes, contains 478 pages and “only” 18 illustrations (how effing pretentious is that!). It’s also “said” (quotation marks frenzy here – apologies) to contain “a unified theory of architecture that suggests a framework for the discipline’s next phase of development…” It is unquestionably a heavy read. I stupidly thought it would be a good idea to carry it in my hand luggage so I could tackle it on a recent long-haul flight but, once aboard, for some reason preferred to watch The Hunger Games directly followed by The Avengers instead. For the return flight, I wasn’t keen to lug it around an airport once again so I packed it. When checking in, I was told my luggage was 1.5kg overweight and that the problem could probably be solved by removing “a book or something” and carrying it in my hand luggage instead. This was good advice. So, although I haven’t weighed “The Autopoiesis of Architecture: Volume I”, any answer in the realm of 1.5kg is correct. (btw: Volume II has 774 pages which strikes me as too much information.)

QUESTION 5: How many rooms on the top floor of Fallingwater? One – the study. The remainder is a waste of space – which is why it’s there, of course. It’s unclear what the third floor actually does. But then, it’s a rich man’s house. It doesn’t really have to do anything except generate complexity and the artistic (and hence, unquestionable) “certainty”  it had to be that way. Cheers.