Radical Architecture In Your Palm
May 11, 2011
A parking tower by Studio Marco Vermeulen.
These days, architecture is often either left unbuilt (or it takes place within the shell of an older building). Despite our questioning of the QR Code facade yesterday, it’s evidence that the Dutch seem to have an almost preternatural understanding of how to use technology to engage the public in architecture.
Dutch advertising agency Gummo, along with the Netherlands Institute of Architecture, teamed up with the Dutch postal service to create a set of stamps that, when held up in front of your webcam, display 3D models of five unbuilt works by Dutch architecture offices. All those discarded, visionary, but non-winning (or stalled) schemes? Here’s an example of how they can still animate a public discussion.
Beyond Buildings‘s Aaron Betsky (who used to direct the NAI) wrote a post on the stamps today, and we couldn’t help reblogging it. He gets the project’s significance right: “They are fragments of possible architecture that float in the air in your living room or your office, disseminated across the country and affordable enough for all. If we are looking for models and inspiration as we seek to rebuild America, this might make a postage stamp size contribution.”
The project also created a great iPhone app that lets you hold your phone up to a site and see what a wildly experimental, unbuilt design could have been. As Betksy notes, the whole stamp sheet also yields an image of the NAI itself, when held up to your webcam.
This ‘paper architecture’ may always remain on paper, but Gummo and the NAI have found a way to popularize and engage the public in the radical architecture that normally only the cloistered academic community has access to.