Narrative has a powerful place in architecture, and some of the most enduring narratives come in the form of fairy tales. A recent series by Places Journal brings the two directly together, exploring “the intimate relationship between the domestic structures of fairy tales and the imaginative realm of architecture.” The curation team reflects this duality, with the diverse collection put together by writer Kate Bernheimer and architect Andrew Bernheimer. Read on for a quick look at four new additions to the series released by Places Journal this week.
“What brings real pleasure in life is often unusual, wouldn’t you say?” In this Australian Aboriginal Dream Time tale, Tiddalik the frog quenches a desperate thirst until the earth is dry. The other animals try their best to make him laugh to release the water from his swollen body, but it is not until Tiddalik sees the "unusual"—the platypus—that he begins to laugh. Snøhetta see Tiddalik’s swing “between laughter and apathy” reflective of architecture’s need to “intertwine aesthetic value with ethical value."
Written by a math teacher, Flatland is a story that takes place in a two-dimensional world existing on a very large sheet of paper. Sounds a bit like a drawing set, no? In both the fairy tale and Ultramoderne’s architectural response, flatness does not “allege a lack of imagination,” but becomes a richly generative constraint.
It is the idea of the gripho more than the gripho itself that led to its inclusion in the series. While its dictionary definition is “a winged creature with the head of an eagle and the body of a lion,” what is even more magical is the fact that something like a gripho exists in popular thought. Just as griphos play testament to the importance of play and imagination to our world, so do Smiljan Radić's physical collages, “a model for a building that nobody knows what is going to be.”
It’s tough being one of eight children, especially when the other seven of your siblings get turned into ravens and you have to walk to the ends of the earth, dismembering yourself in the process, to get them back. So goes the tale of The Seven Ravens and its intrepid heroine. Bernheimer Architecture respond with a magnifiable drawing, playing with scale just as the fairytale plays with “many events in several scales, in simultaneity.”
These four stories are simply the latest installments of Places Journal's Fairy Tale Architecture series, a set of articles which now includes 16 articles going back 5 years. You can see the entire Fairy Tale Architecture series here.