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Architectural critics, curators and thinkers are more used to theorising about buildings than actually making them. COS invites five experts to have a go at designing for themselves, turning everyday objects they find in their homes and places of work into charming desktop stuctures.


by Thaddeus Zupancic

Thaddeus is a London-based writer and translator who also runs the popular Instagram account @notreallyobsessive, a feed dedicated to modernist and brutalist architecture in Britain and beyond:

“I’ve been passionate about modernism and brutalism ever since I saw the Pirelli Tower in Milan as a boy. So my thinking was simple: I wanted to create a museum in a modernist style. I made it from acrylic boxes that I usually use to store things like pencils, batteries, buttons, coins, small spoons... My main inspiration was Denys Lasdun’s National Theatre in London, which is my favourite building of all time. It is sublimely perfect. I wanted to recreate the amazing box-like towers of that building and the storage boxes were ideal for that. Clean modernist lines, slightly severe maybe. I’m pretty happy! Unexpectedly so.”


by Laura Mark

Laura is the architecture projects manager at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, prior to which she was architecture editor at the Architects’ Journal:

“The majority of my structure is made from plates and bowls. I wanted to keep it simple so I stuck to a single colour palette and used shapes that could accommodate stacking. Instead of building it in the kitchen, I decided to make it in my living room, and I think this gave the materials a different context – less something you would eat off, more sculptural. The crowning glory is a money box in the shape of a cockatoo. It’s only a cheap thing from the pound shop, but sitting on the top of the tower I think it gives the whole thing a sense of grandeur. Overall, I think the simplicity benefited from it and it actually has quite a good visual quality. The size was limited partly by stability and partly by the amount of crockery 
I had in my kitchen cupboard.”


by Tom Dyckhoff

Architecture writer, broadcaster and historian Tom also lectures on the history and theory of architecture at University College London:

“My slightly futuristic-looking ‘plastic city’ is made from all the Tupperware I found in my house. I used everything from Ikea tubs to random plastic boxes from Chinese takeaways. I feel that everyone has a drawer jammed full of plastic Tupperware containers. They just accumulate and it becomes total chaos. I was interested in using something we all have but take for granted. Plastic was originally a wonder material but is now a bad guy material. We also used to see it as something futuristic and ageless, but in fact it’s fallible: it cracks, it ages, it gets stained with the remnants of last night’s pasta sauce. My model city has something of the 1950s and ’60s to it: a utopian vision of the future that didn’t quite work out and in which plastic would have formed a vital part. My efforts were ultimately...feeble. If it had been the work of one of my students I would give it a D: must try harder. Actually, maybe a C minus: quite a creative thought process, but the built work was not up to scratch.”


by Irina Davidovici

Alongside her post as a researcher on the history of urban design at ETH Zurich, Irina was a jury member for the Swiss Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale:

“I built my tower on the kitchen table at home in Zurich. It’s made from tea tins and other metal objects. The base is a milk pan designed by Jasper Morrison for Alessi and the teapot is an Alveston, designed by Robert Welch in the ’60s. At the very top is the most basic tea strainer you can buy in Switzerland, purchased from a kitchen store in Basel. I chose metal because it’s practical, and if the whole thing topples, it will get dented but not destroyed. All the objects are also somehow related to tea – I grew up drinking a lot of tea in Romania. I didn’t really have any architectural references in mind; I was actually thinking more about Jenga and towers of pancakes. 
I have to say, it’s structurally appalling and it really breaks the limits of the medium, which is architecture language for ‘Look at me! I’m so avant-garde.’”


by Deyan Sudjic

Deyan is a writer and curator who has edited the architecture bibles Domus and Blueprint. He is now co-director of the Design Museum in London:

“The problem with me is that although I studied architecture, I realised I should never be an architect because I’m too incompetent and impatient; I feel it’s my duty never to build anything again. So, instead of making something by hand I enlisted the help of an object that has fascinated the architectural world for many years: a 3D printer. The machine I used was a MakerBot Replicator Z18, which printed a replica of the amazing 1960s structure that our museum is housed in. The model is about a foot and a bit squared, and nine inches tall. I would say it’s more of a conceptual take on the museum rather than an exact replica, but I’m pleased with the level of detail. There are a few glitches – a few strange lines running through the brickwork – but nothing too bad. What’s interesting is that plastic doesn’t form in the same way concrete does, so you get these totally new patterns appearing on the building – almost like wood grain.”


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