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    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    Mickey Mouse Architecture..

    Ever had the time to actually sit down and listen to the generic architect's concept behind that concrete twirl? or that glass facade's clash with the floor tiles? or maybe the way the solids integrates with the voids?

    Ok.. How about this..

    Ever had the time to actually sit down and listen to the generic SAUDI architect's take on those ideas?
    (by Saudi Architect's, i don't necessarily mean Nationality wise, it just applies to any architect who worked and/or lived in Saudi for more than 5 years)

    Well, i'm certain i heard enough to subconsciously force me to type this rant on my iPhone.. I just had a meeting with a client, and my architectural boss had a say described his concept.. Let's just say, i was fighting a sudden invasion of Cheesiness..

    [update: i finished the last parts of this blog after i arrived and cooled off.. Good thing is, the topic itself re-ignited the flames of "love and support" in me]

    When it comes to concept development, basically, it's either one of two scenarios:

    The concept is extremely cheesy
    Usually stuck in limbo between a children-bedside-story of hope and aspiration for the greater future of man kind, Thriving to achieve the best blend of soul and blah blah blah with blah blah, and then it all boils down that it's just a governmental utility building (so get a grip on yourself)..

    The architect behind the concept is cheesier than the concept
    And this is where the pure art happens.. The terminology used and the way the architect describes the concept as the ONLY solution to the client's needs (so far so good), and then it starts drifting into how the architect sees the poetry of the forms and his choice of forms (still going strong) and then he unveils his Frankistein of a design.. Here is where the whole thing just blows a nerve in my brain, when it's just a damn glass and steel box, and it's a interior decoration and tile shop.. JUST A DAMN SHOP, it SURE didn't need YOU to go all "Nelson Mandela" ON THE DAMN THING!!

    Wait, this is not over yet.. Now comes the DD (Design Development) stage, where Frankistein is being brought to life..

    And this starts to become some sort of visual deja vu:
    • Some sense will be knocked into the design the process, and the building turns out to be ok (despite the Dr.Sues signature of the concept)
    • Thematic Micky Mouse Architecture: It's only at this point in any architect's life where you'll either realize that the line between designing a building and designing a theme park is NOT to be ignored, or realize that YOU are responsible for creating such architecture..

    By now, if you ever wanted to design a Sea food restaurant, and you decided to either make the floor plan look like a fish, or the building to look like a fish (literally) PLEASE leave this blog right now.. I mean it..

    More examples? Why, of course, i'll just go through some of files in my collection (from three different offices so far)
    • A library with an "Eye to the future" theme, that is an eye ball of glass with a black concrete iris..
    • An art center, with a huge concrete Brush and bucket (CAN YOU BE MORE DAMN OBVIOUS, SHERLOCK!!!)
    • A fish restaurant, with a damn FISH mouth as an entrance.. 
    • A Car showroom, with a floor plan that looks like a kindergarden Car (Anyone using the building won't have the "pleasure" to experience the concept unless they're on a plane -or falling off the plane after seeing it- )

    THAT, good reader, is Mickey Mouse architecture..

    I don't mind it, if the overall site is supposed to be some huge visual landmark, like the Nakheel in Dubai.. And i don't mind it, if your client is Disney, and they actually want a Dolphin shaped bathroom..

    But a burger shaped building? (i'll let you answer this one)

    And it doesn't end here.. This "conceptual epidemic" is becoming a trend.. Why? Because it sells, and we all know Saudi Arabia's tendency to latch on any profit-making trend and running it to the ground (in flames, or not, depending on the weather and time of year)

    And it's not just simple minded local folk-type clients who only saw Disney, and thought that the Castle is some architectural achievement.. It actually ranges from the cheap to the filthy rich.. It's funny that most rich clients ask for Mickey Mouse architecture (if not ask for Mickey himself, since they afford the stupid mouse.. YES I CALLED "IT" STUPID!!)

    But i can't blame the client.. He/she didn't spend 4+ years studying architecture, nor was he/she tutored 3+ times every semester in a Jury pin-up.. It's the Architect.. He's/she's the one to blame..

    Dear Architect (whatever species or gender you come from)
    Try to think BEYOND being too thematic in the way you deliver your idea, and have the decency to AT LEAST link your form to whatever spatial function it's extruded from..
    It's not about how literal your building's nature is, because a library is not always in Book shaped buildings (yeah, am looking at you Mustafa!!), and it's more about how conceptually you link the building's function to it's form.. In something that is both sustainable, and aesthetically readable, and leaves room for one to look and wonder and appreciate.. And please, for the love of allah almighty, When you describe your concept, try to watch out for the bullshit/actual ratio.. 
    Don't over sell a concept and blow it out of it's proper proportion, and then design a box to your "spiral of human emotions"..
    Thank you, and may my words be XREF'd in your subconscious forever, or so help me god, i'll XREF my foot in your face!



    1. Man! it seems that you are new to the market here :)
      gotta used to it bro, at least if you want to keep getting your pay check :P

      kidding! wa allah I feel you brother
      I'm an engineer myself and I deal with all type of clients especially the one you've mentioned above. I do my best trying to accommodate the clients needs and not to put my name on something that I will be ashamed of in the future.

      Interesting topic! keep it coming bro

    2. LMAO.....

      I couldn't have said it better myself dear Lou,

      sadly most of the archs in the field are not really archs... they just happened to get a diploma at using CAD and then force themselves upon the uneducated moneybags of our society as architects...
      They have absolutly no regard for form & or function and the relation between the two...

      in addition lou, you spoke about the design factor. Ill mention how messed up these people are when it comes to a buildings body parts, Structure, services and integration.

      The same old song of...lets worry about that when we get to it.
      A successful architect knows what's supposed to get where and how and consults the experts around him. the result... a architecturally pleasant building from the front with Pipes sticking out the sides!

      The real architects are those who are sadly undermined and ranting in blogs... you are my unsung heroes...

      you buddy the building engineer!

    3. @SaudiEngineer
      Well, i only have a limited 2 year experience in the market so far.. So, i guess this is my way of processing nuclear waste before having a mental crisis on my hands :D

      "and not to put my name on something that I will be ashamed of in the future"

      Every architect's nightmare X(

      Since i already saw the spiritual impact of your career on you that day in Aromashy, i have to agree with you..

      You DO know that i accept PayPal donations, right? :P

      But thanks allot bro, and you too Anonymous.. I think we should have either an engineer union (instead of that useless Saudi Engineers committee that only hands out pamphlets) or a support group.. With donuts, and coffee.. lol

    4. LOL @ Saudi Engineering org
      I guess I will singe up for one of their meetings if they offer donuts :)

      I bet you if I go there some one will raise his hand and express strong objection against donuts and suggest that they should offer some cookies next time ;)


    5. Look I knew the saudi arch scene was bad.....but this? A burger shaped fast food joint and a book shaped library would get your ass ripped apart ten different ways at any college studio jury session. An employed architect making arch 101 level design concepts needs to get fired immediately.

    6. @Anonymous
      assuming they request a 7 month period to study the shift from donuts to cookies without losing ISO certification..

      Tell me about it.. I bet you Yahya would have a piece of him over this..

    7. I totally agree with what have been discussed so far, and I would like to add some other type of architects who design stupid themed styles that has nothing to do with anything. Like the black reflective building behind Hira’a Mall, or the freaken purple eyesore a block form fitness-time on Malik road.

      But that’s not what pisses me off, my problem is that the idiot designer so proudly puts a huge freaken sign up front that this is a property oh his royal jackassiness and that no one has the right to copy that design.

      What the F**K??!!

      Is this guy for real? I think we have to do something about this and I do think that I have an idea for a good start. I will discuss it with you when I see you… and yes, I know who you are… and I know where you live… Mowaha ha ha ha. You will never see it coming.

      P.S. (Where is that burger shaped building? I would like to see it)

    8. @Anonymous (who seems to know me enough to MOWAHAHA in my face)

      Well, the burger shaped restaurant, believe it or not, was part of 3 other designs pitched to an "open-checkbook" client of our firm.. To think that the guy actually praised the architect for having such "visually intriguing" idea is, alone, depressing enough..

      You should see the interior designs of the client's palace (oops, did i just expose his background? :P), you'll know that we suffer from both architects and clients allike.. It's a double sided hell-hole buddy, and the initiative to change has to be done soon..

      What that initiative is?

      DO THE DAMN RIGHT THING FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR CAREER'S INTEGRITY.. That's a good start, don't you think? Given that heads of those employees must roll.. :)

    9. well i'm not so sure if you know who I am or not, but you can find a clue in the "P.S." part of my write up.

      Mowaha ha ha ha...

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