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On charm, treehouses and flashy icons

If you are currently stuck in your office, wouldn’t you rather be – even in the rain – in the AirHotel, as described in The Guardian today? An installation for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, it consists of seven different suspended structures – treehouses really – in which visitors can book to spend a night.

This is a definitely temporary installation, but there are more permanent ones dotted around the world (I wrote about quite a few in my book Micro). Not all hang from trees. Some float, or are underwater, or are reinterpretations of the mobile home. But the best of them tend to put you back in touch with nature, and simplify life. At the AirHotel, visitors are only allowed one string bag of possessions!

Architects tend to love designing such tiny structures, as do artists, since often they are simple enough not to require formal architectural skills. The great thing is the sense of delight that they engender – something that many larger buildings signally fail to do.

A recent article on Architecture Source asks ‘Are Architecture Icons Overexposed?‘ For many of us this is a tired old debate, but it seems it has just taken off in the UAE where there is only now emerging a kind of weariness as every new building seeks to outgrow and outshine its predecessors. The author writes ‘It seems unrealistic that people are getting tired of great or impressive buildings. More likely, we have simply upped the ante both on the page and off.’ She seems to have missed the point. Bigger and brasher is really not better. Wouldn’t it be great if these zoos of bling could learn something from tiny projects?





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