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The Weird, the Wacky and the Wonderful

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[Around Town] The Royal Academy brings together prime examples of ‘quirkitecture’

Summary: An exhibition of the buildings and structures that really stand out from the crowd. Some take their inspiration from nature, such as Mushroom House (James H Johnson, 1972) in New York or the Lotus Temple (Fariborz Sahba, 1986) in India which use shapes from nature to inform their structure.

Others take the maxim ‘form follows function’ to its logical extreme, such as the Sheep and Dog Building, (Stevan Clothier and John Drake, 1998) a retail and information outlet for farmers in New Zealand, built in the shape of a giant dog and sheep. Belgium’s Atomium is an obvious example of modular architecture, complemented by the colourful Hundertwasserhaus (Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Joseph Krawina, 1985) in Austria and Habitat 67 (Moshe Safdie, 1967).

St Basil’s Cathedral (Moscow, Russia, 1561) is the oldest building in the exhibition, and shows quirkitecture is not as recent as one would think.

Highlights: Architects may know the public buildings already, so look to the private residencies for a few surprises. These include Casa de Penedo in Portugal, Nautilus (Javier Senosiain, 2007) in Mexico, the Wilkinson Residence (Robert Harvey Oshatz, 2004) in the US and the Low Impact Woodland Home (Simon Dale) in Wales.

Low points: Such a fun exhibition, but the RA’s Architecture Space doesn’t allow for much more than a scattering of photos and minimal commentary. More information on the reasoning behind these striking designs would have made a good read.

Curatorial comment: ‘This exhibition presents snapshots from the outer reaches of architectural expression. They challenge our expectations of architecture, often subverting the conventions of how buildings relate to a site or use materials, or in their structure or composition. By choosing projects which… are habitable and serve common functions, we seek to show that weird, wacky and wonderful buildings can also be practical, while unlocking the creative potential of architecture.’

Final word: A jaunt through some of the world’s most eye-catching and eccentric buildings. It may be over within a lunch hour, but it would be a lunch hour well spent.


The Weird, the Wacky and the Wonderful
Royal Academy
Until 16th September. Mon-Sun 10am-6pm, Fri 10am-10pm
Tickets: Free

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