We need FICTION ARCHITECTURE as well as architecture fiction

The term ‘architecture fiction’ is gaining prominance as writers such as Bruce Sterling explore the potential of fiction writing to unveil and shape our future environment. Written and drawn fictions by Archigram are celebrated as examples of how this has occured. All of which is great. But what I am writing about here is something quite different!


FICTION ARCHITECTURE  is built work which embodies fictive ideas. This is distinct from architecture fiction, which is work on paper or in cyberspace which proposes a possible real future architecture and urbanism. They are different both in medium (one is architecture, the other is writing/drawing) and in intention (FICTION ARCHITECTURE is understood to be ‘built fiction’ and is to be enjoyed as such, while architecture fiction has the intention of revealing, or pushing the boundaries of,  non-fiction architecture).

FICTION ARCHITECTURE is a hard concept to grasp because, unlike in writing, where we are used to the fiction/non-fiction dichotomy, in architecture we are only used to one paradigm, which is that architects try to build seriously in the best way they know how, in the pursuit of firmness, commodity and delight. The idea of designing a building which is deliberately made to represent something else such as an aqueduct, tent, griffin, castle, rocket, lighthouse or bottle  is not generally accepted as valid practice.

In proposing FICTION ARCHITECTURE, I accept the validity of  ‘popular fiction architecture’ and build on it, rather than dismissing it in the way that most architects tend to, as inferior to serious architecture.  I am proposing a fork in the historical road, where architecture branches off into two practices, fiction and non-fiction, in the same way that writing has done. Up until now non-fiction architecture has been seen as legitimate, but fiction architecture has been denied any validity beyond the quaint or vernacular. My practise endeavours to elevate and legitimate fiction architecture.


About Fiction Architecture
I am an architect born in 1953 and practising in Melbourne as a partner in Simon and Freda Thornton Architects. I established this blog to develop a theoretical basis for a type of architecture which I call 'fiction architecture', based on imitation, pretence, trickery and playful deception, as an alternative to most 'non-fiction' architecture which may be categorized as clear, honest, sincere and didactic.

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