Fake Architecture News II

Screenshot 2018-11-06 11.01.30

Screengrab of article in Domain.com.au

A few posts back, I discussed “fake architecture news” (FAN) in blogs and social media, describing an offer I had recently received to allow this very blog you’re reading to feature unidentified “sponsored content” in exchange for financial compensation. Another example of FAN is this story, published in an Australian real-estate magazine, about a stunning house by the Iranian firm Nextoffice.

“A feat of engineering” is the first line we read in the caption below the opening image; a term that strongly implies that the work in question is built. After all, there is a big difference between a building consisting of real bricks and mortar –and with real people actually living in it– and one that exists merely as imagery, no matter how perfect. Considering how radical the design is, it would indeed be quite a feat of engineering if this house actually existed. (It would also probably be a feat of money-spending and  –given all the glass– air-conditioning, but that’s another story.) Let’s start reading the article:

“It appears to be made from improbable shapes, architecture too sophisticated to be true. Yet this futuristic home in Iran is a feat of engineering as much as it is impressive design.”

Note the use of the words “made”, “true”, “in Iran”, and the repetition of “feat” in the opening paragraph. This stunning house must surely be for real! How did the architects do it? How “sustainably” does it perform? Is it possible to visit it? Think I’ll buy me a plane ticket to Iran!

But: in the supposed photographs corroborating this supposed feat of engineering, something doesn’t look quite right. There is no sign of inhabitation, for one thing, although that is true of most built work when it is professionally stylized and packaged for media consumption. There is also something odd about the perfectly mirror-like pond in the foreground (a desert without even the slightest breeze?).

My suspicions are furthered when I see another image; this one of a living room with a curved glass corner through which the exterior view is not the least bit distorted. A dead give-away.

AROUND_THE_WORLD_Guyim_Vault_House_in_Iran_by_Next_Office_Photo_Artist_impression_3_tlgtlw

Oops, someone forgot to distort the background behind the curved glass corner…

I then search for this house on other websites. According to the architects own site, the project is “in progress”, while Architizer uses the term “concept”, both of which confirm my suspicions. Hey, isn’t it great how we architects can distinguish between a visualization and a photograph from the same distance it takes to shoot a selfie in front of the latest feat of engineering by BIG?

So were the writer and/or the Australian real-estate magazine duped by the architects? Did someone forget to do a fact-check? Is this an “honest” mistake? Or is it just another example of unidentified “sponsored content”? Whatever the case, caveat lector.

 

About Rafael Gomez-Moriana

I am an architect, writer and educator. rafagomo.com chronicles my architectural making, writing, teaching and curating activity, while criticalista.com is an archive of my writings as well as a platform for venting personal rants and observations. I studied architecture at the University of Waterloo (Canada) and at the Berlage Institute (the Netherlands). I direct the University of Calgary’s architecture term-abroad program in Barcelona, and have previously taught in the Metropolis Masters Program in Architecture and Urban Culture, CIEE Architecture and Design program, as well as at Carleton University and the University of Manitoba.

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