The Eye of the Fish

February 7, 2019

How to “Mate” your building

I’m a trifle perplexed. I was reading a pleasant, non-confrontational book of inspiring words from Inspiring architects “The Architect Says” the other day, and came across this quote. Whatever can it mean?
At first glance, all seems innocuous. A closer look though, gets me thinking – is that a typo? Surely not. Princeton Press and all that – they don’t make mistakes. Neither does Storming Norman. So, it must be true.
Here’s the blurb from Amazon: “If there’s anything architects like doing more than designing buildings, it’s talking about architecture. Whether musing about their inspirations (a blank sheet of paper, the sun hitting the side of a building), expanding on each other’s thoughts (on materials, collaboration, clients, and constraints), or dishing out a clever quip, architects make good copy. The Architect Says is a colorful compendium of quotations from more than one hundred of history’s most opinionated design minds. Paired on page spreads like guests at a dinner party-an architect of today might sit next to a contemporary or someone from the eighteenth century – these sets of quotes convey a remarkable depth and diversity of thinking. Alternately wise and amusing, this elegant gem of a book makes the perfect gift for architects, students, and anyone curious about the ideas and personalities that have helped shape our built world.”

We all know that Architects like to think about Sex. A lot. It’s the passionate nature of the beast. Jean Nouvel certainly thinks about it a lot, particularly in the Torre Agbar in Barcelona.
“Unlike slender spires and bell towers that typically pierce the horizons of horizontal cities, this tower is a fluid mass that bursts through the ground like a geyser under permanent, calculated pressure,” Nouvel said of the building when it was first unveiled. Hmmm. What a load of old cock.
Jorn Utzon, of course, used to think about sex – clean, pure, Danish, IKEA style of blonded sex. Don’t believe me? Just where did he get his inspiration from then?
Impossible you say. But I disagree. I say to you:
Others have tried this – few as successfully as Utzon. Choice of Materials matter, you know!
The Master of all this, or should I say Mistress – whatever, she really was the Business for sexy buildings. You know who I’m talking about, just from a picture alone. Now that is a building that that screams out unwrap me!
Oooh, she’s such a tease. Just imagine what could have happened if she had got together with old Christo!

But you all know what this is about. It’s too damn hot to blog sensibly. I’m going back to the beach !



Aaaah, better already…

8 - 02 - 19

Much little?

8 - 02 - 19

Isn’t bigger better?

8 - 02 - 19

Perhaps he meant the “grating” of a building, in response to the Leadenhall building, just a stone’s throw from his own gherkin?

60 MPa
8 - 02 - 19

8 - 02 - 19

The Dish Rack and the Grater take on the Gherkin – I’m thinking vege fritters tonight ! and someone else doing the dishes!

12 - 02 - 19 says that “mating” is a mistranscription of “making” (the transcription of his acceptance speech given at the Altes Museum in Berlin for the 1999 Pritzker Architecture Prize, which included this quote, is at

But what about “how much little emphasis”? What could that have been intended to be?

13 - 02 - 19

Oh Betterbee, you’ve made my day – thank you so much! That link to the paper by Naomi Stead and Katrina Simon is absolutely GOLD – those architectural academics sure know how to spin out a story, and have done some bloody good background research along the way. Have a look at just this one paragraph from the whole paper:

Celebrated works and texts include the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, the Renaissance treatise long attributed to Francesca Colonna and latterly to Leon Battista Alberti,10 Jean Claude Ledoux’s designs for a phallus-shaped house of pleasure for the town of Chaux,11 Jean-Francois de Bastide’s celebrated novella, La Petite Maison, 12 Adolf Loos’s house for Josephine Baker,13 and other, later texts including Diana Agrest’s The Sex of Architecture, Beatriz Colomina and Jennifer Bloomer’s Sexuality and Space, and more recently Richard Williams’ Sex and Buildings.14 We might also include the work of Madelon Vriesendorp, specifically her iconic image Flagrant Delit, which featured on the cover of Delirious New York, and represents the literal mating of buildings, where a post-coital Empire State and Chrysler Buildings are caught in bed by the Rockefeller Building.15

Gold. Just absolute Gold.

13 - 02 - 19

Thanks, Levi!

The Madelon Vriesendorp reference is at, and it’s astonishing what skyscrapers get up to when no-one’s looking. Warning: some of the Statue of Liberty scenes could be NSFW at less-enlightened workplaces. (How’s that for clickbait?)