Pop Architecture

Ordinary, everyday objects — that’s what most popular nicknames for buildings refer to. A gherkin, a paperclip, a typewriter, a stapler, mushrooms, milk cartons, cereal boxes, dildos… These kinds of endearing associations create a pop-cultural world parallel to Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen‘s, whose inflated, oversized banal objects are exactly what the “untrained eye” seems to see in many buildings.
“La macchina per scrivere” (the typewriter), Rome.
“La grapadora” (the stapler) by MBM, Barcelona
“De paperklip” (the paper clip) by Carel Weeber, Rotterdam.
“Las setas” (the mushrooms) by Jürgen Mayer H., Seville.
“El tampax” (the tampon), by Toyo Ito, Barcelona
“La pedrera” (the stone quarry) by Antoni Gaudí, Barcelona.
La colmena (the beehive), by Taller de Arquitectura, Barcelona
La gasolinera (the gas station), by Viaplana, Piñon, Miralles, Barcelona
“The gherkin” by Foster, London
La râpe à fromage (cheese grater), Roger d’Astous & Jean Paul Pothier, Montreal
La chute à linge (laundry chute) by Moshe Safdie, Montreal (photo courtesy nwaonline.com)

One of many “milk cartons” by IKOY, Winnipeg

“El Toblerone”, Almería. Image courtesy salvemoseltoblerone.org


  1. Thanks! There are certainly lots of examples, some more literal than others. But it's the examples that don't TRY to look like something else and that have been designed in all seriousness that are, for me, the most interesting, because the nickname was never intended on the part of the architect — far from it, most likely. When the nickname comes from “below” it's much more genuine, funny and imaginative. And much less corny.

  2. Who the hell calls Ito's tower in L'Hospitalet a “tampoon”?… never heard that -and it does not look at all like a tampoon anyway-. Are you making this up?

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