Pineapple Modernity


“For Adoration from the down,

Of damn’sins so th’anas crown.”

- Christopher Smart, 1763 -

 

“Shawty super thick, bet she taste like pineapple

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, pineapple”

- Ty Dolla $ign & Gucci Mane, 2018 -

Somewhere in Scotland stands one of those buildings usually referred to as folies, fancies, or whimsies: the so-called ‘Dunmore pineapple’. Simply by hearing its name, one can easily tell that this structure is quite peculiar. The building is made of three main interconnecting parts: an essentially classicist building, an octagonal drum punctured by Gothic windows, and a pineapple-shaped dome reaching 14 meters in height. The classicist building, adjacent to a slope, was finished in the 1760s, possibly designed by Sir William Chambers (1723-1796), while the sculptural dome was subsequently added at John Murray (1730-1809), fourth Lord of Dunmore’s request, who owned pineries.1 Very little has been written about this structure, in part because so little is known about its origins, developments, and history, as there appears to be almost no documentation. If that is the case, however, this building is cited as little more than one of the many examples of eighteenth-century architecture in general: “During Laugier’s own lifetime, one can find examples of columns made to look like trees or women from Caryae, men from Persia, or even giants, while a dome added in 1777 to a hothouse at the Dunmore Estate in Falkirk, Scotland, had been given the appearance of a pineapple”2

To cut a long story short, when considered, this structure is emblematic of the architecture parlante that characterizes the architecture of the so-called Enlightenment, one of those buildings already effectively defined by Manfredo Tafuri (1935-1994) as “ambiguous”:3 architectures that refer to something other than themselves and seek to incorporate within their forms a heteroclite and heteronomous vocabulary, either combined with the elements classified by classicist orthodoxies, or as their substitute. In this respect, this building can be described as the symbol of “man’s triumph over the elements—an exotic tropical fruit flourishing in the chilly north”,4 or maybe as the representation of other more or less plausible interpretations. But instead of getting lost in the labyrinthine twists and turns of language while trying to make sense of the endless openings of meaning that any symbol elicits, it seems quite more interesting to ask an apparently trivial question, but one that may nonetheless provide different theoretical problematizations: why a pineapple?

A Modern Pineapple

It is well known that Europeans have known the pineapple since Christopher Columbus’ second journey to what he believed were the Indies. However, the fruit itself did not appear in Europe until the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Initially, efforts were made to ship the crop from colonies, where slaves cultivated it among other goods. After a while, though, the European nobility decided that it was best to cultivate this fruit in Europe, as it only rarely came undamaged to the Old Continent. The first greenhouses and pineries appeared in Holland, to then become increasingly popular, particularly in England, where the pineapple became an object of longing for the aristocracy.5 Since then, the pineapple became a more and more common item, all over the world.

Because of its social history, here brutally summarized, the pineapple is indeed an indicator of a new world, one defined by Christopher A. Bayly (1945-2015) as “proto-capitalist globalization”: a culture, that is, more and more centred around commerce and financial dealings.6 As time went on, business owners got better and better at generating new marketing possibilities, always on the watch for new chances to offer novel products to the market: from Chinese objects to exotic items and other products, they brought along a new form of consumerism based on the allure of anything novel. This is not something to be treated casually. On the one hand, by purchasing costly products, the upper classes convinced themselves of their social status, in addition to demonstrating the power of their countries within a more globalized and colonized world. On the other hand, these seemingly trivial facts will contribute to the creation of a cultural order other than the pre-established one.

It is difficult to ignore the fact that, starting in the second half of the eighteenth century, a uniquely modern occurrence thus began, one inextricably connected to the logic of consumption. In these times, an increasingly transnational capitalism started to develop, based on the exploitation of more and more resources, which will eventually take form in great exhibitions, based on the colonial appropriation of other countries’ goods, and on the development of more and more new commodities and practices, as well as the invention of spaces and objects to accommodate them. In this regard, the Dunmore Pineapple is more than a mere whim. It should indeed be mentioned that this is not the only pineapple built in the second half of the eighteenth century, though it is unquestionably the biggest.B This fruit is indeed used in statues and ornaments to demonstrate the riches of those who cannot only afford to eat it, but also those who make it.7 In this respect, this object is also a kind of three-dimensional proto-billboard: like a façade of an ideal eighteenth-century Las Vegas, the pineapple serves to represent the maker’s business, as well as visibly identify the owner’s land.

Exit from the Classicist Canon

Showy as it is, this building actually represents some of the developments of modernity: representation and physical embodiment of a new world, beginning to go global, as such modern. Certainly, when compared to the developments of eighteenth-century rationalism with which we associate the birth of modern architecture, this building seems something radically different, strange, and unsuitable to represent modernity without making us feel at least slightly queasy. However, if it is true that Enlightenment culture also consists of the liberation of subjectivity, in the development of an individualist consciousness whereby it is legitimate and right to express oneself and one’s originality, then this building—or rather what it seems to represent—is indeed modern. After all, what are a Pineapple-shaped building, the so-called chinoiserie, Batty Langley’s (1696-1751) Gothic-Vitruvian oxymorons, and the structures of this type being built throughout Europe from the mid-eighteenth century onwards if not efforts to either amend, or break free from the classical canon? As much as the Chinese style with which the house of the more than enlightened Voltaire (1694-1778) was furnished, or also that of the English salonnière Elizabeth Montagu (1718-1800), who was “sick of Grecian elegance and symmetry, or Gothik grandeur and magnificence”8, the pineapple at Dunmore represents a tentative exit from classicism, by then exhausted by the Baroque, through an essentially syncretic operation: combining different languages, new elements with known things, and references hitherto forgotten, if not forbidden, mixed with what is already known.

In this respect, it is also suitable to move the interpretative focus away from the bombastic dome and toward the drum that connects it to the building’s main body. As said, the latter is punctured by Gothic windows with an oriental-like character, as typical of eighteenth-century developments in garden architecture, adding a touch of extravagance to this architectural assemblage. While definitely inelegant, this shape is far from insignificant. On the contrary: The gothic, like a Pineapple, the fascination for ‘Chinese’ aesthetics, or the re-discovery of the Egyptian style soon to be advocated by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778), are all different manifestations of an analogous awareness: the interest for different styles, each associated with innovation in its own right.

One of the main features of eighteenth-century architecture is the development of an almost infinite number of poetics, each of which seems to be aimed to constantly re-define new syntheses between the desire for stability and the unpredictability of a new modern contingency: a fresh point of view based on the definition of new formal vocabularies. The architect attempts to convey a new knowledge of the world by abandoning preconceived notions (while invariably producing new ones), emphasizing and developing novel features, and integrating almost anything exotic within a building’s forms.

Each of these structures is a representation of a new cultural paradigm whereby the subject's identity and the creative act gain more and more power and significance. In a Rousseau-like way, it becomes necessary for the architect to show his distinctive qualities and personality. Best represented by Piranesi’s use of the sentence by Sallust (86–35 BC): “they despise my novelty, I their timidity”9, a spirit based on being oneself, on an unrestrained individualism that seems to anticipate Baudelaire’s modern dandy, and the need to assert an ever-increasing difference from ever-newer constituted orders, thus begins to define itself. It is no longer enough to demonstrate one’s difference within a paradigm, but rather one’s brilliance and innovation against it. This reasoning certainly applies to eighteenth-century rationalism: a liberation from the domain of classicist imagination and independence from the weight of pre-established norms, although in this case architects attempt to define universally valid abstract systems of design. But it also applies to a building like the one near Dunmore, or to the Chinese, even if they appear to foreshadow advances other than those usually ascribed to modernity once it is retrospectively defined from by now traditional points of view.

If anything, this building appears to predict a figurative route characteristic of many modern experiences. Pseudo-Gothic-Chinese structures, pineapples, and various forms of architectural syncretism foreshadow the formal bricolage found in some experiences of the Art Nouveau, Liberty, and even in Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s (1868-1928) work, or in that of Otto Wagner (1841-1918), according to whom “the architect may dip into the full repository of traditional forms”10, while reinventing its forms. A design mode that will somehow have an impact on early Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), who invents ‘American’ architecture through the appropriation of Japanese traditional forms, architectural experiences still considered as minor—Jože Plečnik (1872-1957), for example—if not Surrealism itself, intended as a movement concerned with objects as much as with a revitalized subjectivity. Or, as stated by Walter Benjamin: “less on the trail of the psyche than on the track of things.”11 In other words, there is a need for figurative experimentation within modernity, characterized as a study into the world’s forms once they have lost any legitimizing agency because of the loss of any shared koinè: an ars combinatoria employed for the creation of works that are both new and recognizable—familiar and strange—capable of producing objects that can accommodate new functions and requirements, while avoiding monistic, substantialist, and positivist perspectives on architecture’s relationship with reality. A seemingly paradoxical artistic and architectural experience, then, certainly figurative, but neither anti-modern, nor nostalgic because of that.

Overall, despite being minor and certainly a whim, the Dunmore Pineapple is an important building for understanding the developments of modernity in architecture beyond categories that are by now exhausted by decades of theoretical simplifications: an expression of a new world that presents itself as global from its inception, a modernity that is not only Western, colonial—certainly—but also defined as such through transcultural exchanges that produce a transmutation and transformation (and thus transgression) of traditions, as well as objects, practices and aesthetics. This is an attitude that lives within the modern world and that allows for subjective autonomy, though not always with the knowledge that this very individualism must be weighed with a form of collectivism, and that continues to impact, more or less tacitly, current discussions.

Coda: Global Pineapples

Woombye, Australia; Herefordshire, England; Macau, China. A Pineapple-shaped landmark, listed in the Queensland Heritage Register, an “origami pineapple” designed by Studio Morison in 2017; a golden tower containing a casino and a hotel, reminding of a palm and, needless to say, a pineapple.

Are these three buildings recent developments of what has been discussed so far? It is hard to say. On the one hand, the architectural developments previously analysed appear to foreshadow much of the contemporary, once postmodernism and its decorated sheds transform into a proper form of spectacle: an architectural culture that has now become pathologically seductive, and which undoubtedly contributes to emblematic representation and legitimation of a global cultural paradigm based on innovation, strangeness, and novelty—by now in whatever style or form. On the other hand, it is undoubtedly true that at the time when the Dunmore pineapple was built, uniqueness and extravagance were professed by an educated elite, often ostentatious, but also comprised of intellectuals and artists. Today, this same attitude that once stood for liberation from preconceived norms has been adopted by nearly everyone, altering modern mass culture into a fetish for extravagance.

Still, it would be too easy to criticize these experiences in their entirety, maybe sliding into one of criticism’s most typical traps: the inability to see beyond the horizon of a hypothetical and imminent decline of civilization; or at least the lack of an attempt to do so. Certainly, in the face of the issues presented by technological advancements, widespread hyper-individualism on social media, and the market economy, excess cannot be fetishized any longer. At the same time, it is quite obvious that the need to show variety is still imperative, as much as the right for recognition is. To be sure, these are no longer enough, as we face problems that require a more collective and less personalistic, if not even universal, depth, but expression remains a fundamental value for making sense of a world in which things change at an ever-increasing rate.

Perhaps, the architect will be still able to use the analysis of the world— its aesthetics, entities, environments, objects, and oddities—as a beginning point for producing sense, that is, for defining syntheses enabling the forming of ever varying needs, identities, and aesthetics. The pineapple has been one of the distinguishing elements of a new world—and as such it was used to produce new forms. Today, this fruit appears to have devolved into a joke in and of itself, or into SpongeBob’s house.A

One thing is anyway certain: one of the architects’ tasks will always be to choose the forms, ideas, and ‘objects’ of their time (thus also defining its past and future aspirations), and to devise ways to make sense of the world through their use, transformation, and combination: a constant and somewhat inevitable re-invention and re-opening of the world itself by means of design.

Pineapple Modernity

4/27/2023


“For Adoration from the down,

Of damn’sins so th’anas crown.”

- Christopher Smart, 1763 -

 

“Shawty super thick, bet she taste like pineapple

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, ay, pineapple”

- Ty Dolla $ign & Gucci Mane, 2018 -

1 See: Glyn Headley and Wim Meulenkamp, Follies: a Guide to Rogue Architecture in England, Scotland and Wales, London 1990, pp.469-471.

2 Matthew Mindrup, The Architectural Model, Histories of the Miniature and the Prototype, the Exemplar and the Muse, Cambridge 2019, p.220.

3 Manfredo Tafuri, Theories and History of Architecture, London 1980, p.82.

4 George Mott and Sally Sample Aall, Follies and Pleasure Pavilions, p.55.

Somewhere in Scotland stands one of those buildings usually referred to as folies, fancies, or whimsies: the so-called ‘Dunmore pineapple’. Simply by hearing its name, one can easily tell that this structure is quite peculiar. The building is made of three main interconnecting parts: an essentially classicist building, an octagonal drum punctured by Gothic windows, and a pineapple-shaped dome reaching 14 meters in height. The classicist building, adjacent to a slope, was finished in the 1760s, possibly designed by Sir William Chambers (1723-1796), while the sculptural dome was subsequently added at John Murray (1730-1809), fourth Lord of Dunmore’s request, who owned pineries.1 Very little has been written about this structure, in part because so little is known about its origins, developments, and history, as there appears to be almost no documentation. If that is the case, however, this building is cited as little more than one of the many examples of eighteenth-century architecture in general: “During Laugier’s own lifetime, one can find examples of columns made to look like trees or women from Caryae, men from Persia, or even giants, while a dome added in 1777 to a hothouse at the Dunmore Estate in Falkirk, Scotland, had been given the appearance of a pineapple”2

To cut a long story short, when considered, this structure is emblematic of the architecture parlante that characterizes the architecture of the so-called Enlightenment, one of those buildings already effectively defined by Manfredo Tafuri (1935-1994) as “ambiguous”:3 architectures that refer to something other than themselves and seek to incorporate within their forms a heteroclite and heteronomous vocabulary, either combined with the elements classified by classicist orthodoxies, or as their substitute. In this respect, this building can be described as the symbol of “man’s triumph over the elements—an exotic tropical fruit flourishing in the chilly north”,4 or maybe as the representation of other more or less plausible interpretations. But instead of getting lost in the labyrinthine twists and turns of language while trying to make sense of the endless openings of meaning that any symbol elicits, it seems quite more interesting to ask an apparently trivial question, but one that may nonetheless provide different theoretical problematizations: why a pineapple?

Dunmore Pineapple, Dunmore Park, Falkirk, Scotland – © Gunther Tusch CC by 4.0
Dunmore Pineapple, north elevation and section – © RCAHMS
Dunmore Pineapple, plan with pinerys – © RCAHMS
Dunmore Pineapple, south elevation – © RCAHMS
Dunmore Pineapple, with greenhouses in 1917 – photo: Falkirk Council
01 | 06
Dunmore Pineapple, Dunmore Park, Falkirk, Scotland – © Gunther Tusch CC by 4.0

5 See: Lex Boon, Ananas: een geschiedenis in opzienbarende verhalen en onverwachte ontmoetingen, Amsterdam 2019.

6 Christopher A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World 1780-1914, Global Connections and Comparisons, Oxford 2004, p.44.

7 See: Francesca Beuman, The Pineapple, King of Fruits, London 2006.

8 Elizabeth Montagu, Quoted in E.F. Caritt, A Calendar of British Taste, 1600 to 1800, London 1949, p.252.

Altmutter Hall

A Modern Pineapple

It is well known that Europeans have known the pineapple since Christopher Columbus’ second journey to what he believed were the Indies. However, the fruit itself did not appear in Europe until the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Initially, efforts were made to ship the crop from colonies, where slaves cultivated it among other goods. After a while, though, the European nobility decided that it was best to cultivate this fruit in Europe, as it only rarely came undamaged to the Old Continent. The first greenhouses and pineries appeared in Holland, to then become increasingly popular, particularly in England, where the pineapple became an object of longing for the aristocracy.5 Since then, the pineapple became a more and more common item, all over the world.

Because of its social history, here brutally summarized, the pineapple is indeed an indicator of a new world, one defined by Christopher A. Bayly (1945-2015) as “proto-capitalist globalization”: a culture, that is, more and more centred around commerce and financial dealings.6 As time went on, business owners got better and better at generating new marketing possibilities, always on the watch for new chances to offer novel products to the market: from Chinese objects to exotic items and other products, they brought along a new form of consumerism based on the allure of anything novel. This is not something to be treated casually. On the one hand, by purchasing costly products, the upper classes convinced themselves of their social status, in addition to demonstrating the power of their countries within a more globalized and colonized world. On the other hand, these seemingly trivial facts will contribute to the creation of a cultural order other than the pre-established one.

It is difficult to ignore the fact that, starting in the second half of the eighteenth century, a uniquely modern occurrence thus began, one inextricably connected to the logic of consumption. In these times, an increasingly transnational capitalism started to develop, based on the exploitation of more and more resources, which will eventually take form in great exhibitions, based on the colonial appropriation of other countries’ goods, and on the development of more and more new commodities and practices, as well as the invention of spaces and objects to accommodate them. In this regard, the Dunmore Pineapple is more than a mere whim. It should indeed be mentioned that this is not the only pineapple built in the second half of the eighteenth century, though it is unquestionably the biggest. This fruit is indeed used in statues and ornaments to demonstrate the riches of those who cannot only afford to eat it, but also those who make it.7 In this respect, this object is also a kind of three-dimensional proto-billboard: like a façade of an ideal eighteenth-century Las Vegas, the pineapple serves to represent the maker’s business, as well as visibly identify the owner’s land.

Exit from the Classicist Canon

Showy as it is, this building actually represents some of the developments of modernity: representation and physical embodiment of a new world, beginning to go global, as such modern. Certainly, when compared to the developments of eighteenth-century rationalism with which we associate the birth of modern architecture, this building seems something radically different, strange, and unsuitable to represent modernity without making us feel at least slightly queasy. However, if it is true that Enlightenment culture also consists of the liberation of subjectivity, in the development of an individualist consciousness whereby it is legitimate and right to express oneself and one’s originality, then this building—or rather what it seems to represent—is indeed modern. After all, what are a Pineapple-shaped building, the so-called chinoiserie, Batty Langley’s (1696-1751) Gothic-Vitruvian oxymorons, and the structures of this type being built throughout Europe from the mid-eighteenth century onwards if not efforts to either amend, or break free from the classical canon? As much as the Chinese style with which the house of the more than enlightened Voltaire (1694-1778) was furnished, or also that of the English salonnière Elizabeth Montagu (1718-1800), who was “sick of Grecian elegance and symmetry, or Gothik grandeur and magnificence”8, the pineapple at Dunmore represents a tentative exit from classicism, by then exhausted by the Baroque, through an essentially syncretic operation: combining different languages, new elements with known things, and references hitherto forgotten, if not forbidden, mixed with what is already known.

In this respect, it is also suitable to move the interpretative focus away from the bombastic dome and toward the drum that connects it to the building’s main body. As said, the latter is punctured by Gothic windows with an oriental-like character, as typical of eighteenth-century developments in garden architecture, adding a touch of extravagance to this architectural assemblage. While definitely inelegant, this shape is far from insignificant. On the contrary: The gothic, like a Pineapple, the fascination for ‘Chinese’ aesthetics, or the re-discovery of the Egyptian style soon to be advocated by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778), are all different manifestations of an analogous awareness: the interest for different styles, each associated with innovation in its own right.

Jean-Baptiste Pillement's book The Ladies Amusement or The Art of Japanning Made Easy (1760) became an influential sourcebook for designers of Chinoiserie.  – © public domain
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Chimneypiece in the Egyptian style, 1769 – © Met Open Access
Design for a gothick temple in: Batty Langley, Gothic architecture, impoved by rules and proportions in many grand designs, 1743.  – © public domain
01 | 04
Jean-Baptiste Pillement's book The Ladies Amusement or The Art of Japanning Made Easy (1760) became an influential sourcebook for designers of Chinoiserie. – © public domain

9 See: Rudolf Wittkower, “Piranesi’s ‘Parere su L’Architettura’”, in: Journal of the Warburg Institute, vol. 2, No. 2, (Oct. 1938), pp.147-158.

10 Otto Wagner, Modern Architecture, a Guidebook for his Students in this field of art, Los Angeles 1988, p.80.

11 Walter Benjamin, “Dream Kitsch, Gloss on Surrealism”, in: Walter Benjamin, Selected Writing, volume 2, part 1, 1927-1930, Cambridge 1999, p.4.

One of the main features of eighteenth-century architecture is the development of an almost infinite number of poetics, each of which seems to be aimed to constantly re-define new syntheses between the desire for stability and the unpredictability of a new modern contingency: a fresh point of view based on the definition of new formal vocabularies. The architect attempts to convey a new knowledge of the world by abandoning preconceived notions (while invariably producing new ones), emphasizing and developing novel features, and integrating almost anything exotic within a building’s forms.

Each of these structures is a representation of a new cultural paradigm whereby the subject's identity and the creative act gain more and more power and significance. In a Rousseau-like way, it becomes necessary for the architect to show his distinctive qualities and personality. Best represented by Piranesi’s use of the sentence by Sallust (86–35 BC): “they despise my novelty, I their timidity”9, a spirit based on being oneself, on an unrestrained individualism that seems to anticipate Baudelaire’s modern dandy, and the need to assert an ever-increasing difference from ever-newer constituted orders, thus begins to define itself. It is no longer enough to demonstrate one’s difference within a paradigm, but rather one’s brilliance and innovation against it. This reasoning certainly applies to eighteenth-century rationalism: a liberation from the domain of classicist imagination and independence from the weight of pre-established norms, although in this case architects attempt to define universally valid abstract systems of design. But it also applies to a building like the one near Dunmore, or to the Chinese, even if they appear to foreshadow advances other than those usually ascribed to modernity once it is retrospectively defined from by now traditional points of view.

If anything, this building appears to predict a figurative route characteristic of many modern experiences. Pseudo-Gothic-Chinese structures, pineapples, and various forms of architectural syncretism foreshadow the formal bricolage found in some experiences of the Art Nouveau, Liberty, and even in Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s (1868-1928) work, or in that of Otto Wagner (1841-1918), according to whom “the architect may dip into the full repository of traditional forms”10, while reinventing its forms. A design mode that will somehow have an impact on early Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), who invents ‘American’ architecture through the appropriation of Japanese traditional forms, architectural experiences still considered as minor—Jože Plečnik (1872-1957), for example—if not Surrealism itself, intended as a movement concerned with objects as much as with a revitalized subjectivity. Or, as stated by Walter Benjamin: “less on the trail of the psyche than on the track of things.”11 In other words, there is a need for figurative experimentation within modernity, characterized as a study into the world’s forms once they have lost any legitimizing agency because of the loss of any shared koinè: an ars combinatoria employed for the creation of works that are both new and recognizable—familiar and strange—capable of producing objects that can accommodate new functions and requirements, while avoiding monistic, substantialist, and positivist perspectives on architecture’s relationship with reality. A seemingly paradoxical artistic and architectural experience, then, certainly figurative, but neither anti-modern, nor nostalgic because of that.

Overall, despite being minor and certainly a whim, the Dunmore Pineapple is an important building for understanding the developments of modernity in architecture beyond categories that are by now exhausted by decades of theoretical simplifications: an expression of a new world that presents itself as global from its inception, a modernity that is not only Western, colonial—certainly—but also defined as such through transcultural exchanges that produce a transmutation and transformation (and thus transgression) of traditions, as well as objects, practices and aesthetics. This is an attitude that lives within the modern world and that allows for subjective autonomy, though not always with the knowledge that this very individualism must be weighed with a form of collectivism, and that continues to impact, more or less tacitly, current discussions.

«The Big Pineapple» dominates the entrance to the Sunshine Plantation in Woombye, Australia – © Robin Barron
Origami-like pineapple as temporary follie at Berrington Hall's 18th century garden, Studio Morison 2017 – © Heather Peak and Ivan Morison
Origami-like pineapple as temporary follie at Berrington Hall's 18th century garden, Studio Morison 2017 – © Heather Peak and Ivan Morison
«Grand Lisboa», Hotel and Casino in Macau by DLN Architects, 2008 – © DLN Architects
«Grand Lisboa», Hotel and Casino in Macau by DLN Architects, 2008 – photo: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen © cc by-sa 4.0
01 | 06
«The Big Pineapple» dominates the entrance to the Sunshine Plantation in Woombye, Australia – © Robin Barron

Coda: Global Pineapples

Woombye, Australia; Herefordshire, England; Macau, China. A Pineapple-shaped landmark, listed in the Queensland Heritage Register, an “origami pineapple” designed by Studio Morison in 2017; a golden tower containing a casino and a hotel, reminding of a palm and, needless to say, a pineapple.

Are these three buildings recent developments of what has been discussed so far? It is hard to say. On the one hand, the architectural developments previously analysed appear to foreshadow much of the contemporary, once postmodernism and its decorated sheds transform into a proper form of spectacle: an architectural culture that has now become pathologically seductive, and which undoubtedly contributes to emblematic representation and legitimation of a global cultural paradigm based on innovation, strangeness, and novelty—by now in whatever style or form. On the other hand, it is undoubtedly true that at the time when the Dunmore pineapple was built, uniqueness and extravagance were professed by an educated elite, often ostentatious, but also comprised of intellectuals and artists. Today, this same attitude that once stood for liberation from preconceived norms has been adopted by nearly everyone, altering modern mass culture into a fetish for extravagance.

Still, it would be too easy to criticize these experiences in their entirety, maybe sliding into one of criticism’s most typical traps: the inability to see beyond the horizon of a hypothetical and imminent decline of civilization; or at least the lack of an attempt to do so. Certainly, in the face of the issues presented by technological advancements, widespread hyper-individualism on social media, and the market economy, excess cannot be fetishized any longer. At the same time, it is quite obvious that the need to show variety is still imperative, as much as the right for recognition is. To be sure, these are no longer enough, as we face problems that require a more collective and less personalistic, if not even universal, depth, but expression remains a fundamental value for making sense of a world in which things change at an ever-increasing rate.

Perhaps, the architect will be still able to use the analysis of the world— its aesthetics, entities, environments, objects, and oddities—as a beginning point for producing sense, that is, for defining syntheses enabling the forming of ever varying needs, identities, and aesthetics. The pineapple has been one of the distinguishing elements of a new world—and as such it was used to produce new forms. Today, this fruit appears to have devolved into a joke in and of itself, or into SpongeBob’s house.

One thing is anyway certain: one of the architects’ tasks will always be to choose the forms, ideas, and ‘objects’ of their time (thus also defining its past and future aspirations), and to devise ways to make sense of the world through their use, transformation, and combination: a constant and somewhat inevitable re-invention and re-opening of the world itself by means of design.

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8/29/2023Grisi Ganzer

Pandora's Boxes

Grisi Ganzer’s report on the collaboration on the German Pavilion for the Venice Architecture Biennale features his impressions and experiences building a bar counter for the Pandora Culture Centre. read
23/08
Pandora's Boxes
Article 23/07
7/27/2023Bart Lootsma

Diffusions

Text-based AI generates realistic images of diffuse origin. Imperfect and open-ended, they irritate our aesthetic sensibilities and change the entire visual culture. read
23/07
Diffusions
Article 23/06
6/28/2023Denis Andernach

Andernach's Houses

Free of constraints, Denis Andernach draws his houses as pure architectures in abandoned landscapes. He unites elementary forms with imagined purposes. read
23/06
Andernach's Houses
Article 23/05
5/24/2023Pedro Gadanho

Learning from Hippie Modernism

An environmental avant-garde grew out of the resistance against the post-war society of the late 1960s. While their efforts were derided as esoteric, time has come to learn from their approaches. read
23/05
Hippie Modernism
Article 23/04
4/27/2023Giacomo Pala

Pineapple Modernity

The intersection of globalization and modernity: the pineapple and the emergence of a new architectural paradigm since the 18th century. read
23/04
Pineapple Modernity
Article 23/03
3/29/2023Claudia Kromrei

Case come noi

An island, three writers and three houses in which they lived, loved and worked. In Capri's idyll, the buildings unfold the personality of their builders and stage their self-absorption. read
23/03
Case come noi
Article 23/02
2/23/2023Bahar Avanoğlu

[Un]built

Separating "unbuilt" architecture from the one "not built", Raimund Abraham's oeuvre is a vital reminder of architecture as a work of memory and desire and as an independent art of building the [Un]built. read
23/02
[Un]built
Article 23/01
1/18/2023Wolfgang Bachmann

New Land

An excursion into an unknown area: In his travelogue about Lusatia, Wolfgang Bachmann speaks of official GDR stage scenery,, West German-influenced reappraisal – and Baroque splendour. read
23/01
New Land
Article 22/07
11/23/2022Bettina Köhler

Liebe du Arsch!*

Can one discard buildings? Can one overcome ignorance and greed? Does love help? Bettina Köhler’s answer to these questions is “yes” in her investigation of beauty as the custodian of durability. read
22/07
Liebe du Arsch!*
Article 22/06
10/19/2022Fala

Fala meets Siza

Fala and Álvaro Siza are bound by origins but separated by age. In a personal encounter, the 89-year-old Pritzker Prize winner talks about that which is still reflected in Fala's own work today. read
22/06
Fala meets Siza
Article 22/05
9/22/2022Anna Beeke

Trailer Treasures

Within mobile home parks, Anna Beeke encounters a clear desire for individualized place. In her photographs she shows how prefabricated units are the same, but different. read
22/05
Trailer Treasures
Article 22/04
8/20/2022Mario Rinke

Open Meta-landscapes

Mario Rinke pleads for supporting structures that are not conceived for a use, but out of the place. In these meta-landscapes, architectures can occur episodically. read
22/04
Open Meta-landscapes
Article 22/03
7/1/2022Virginia de Diego
caption

Reductio ad absurdum

Through deliberate destruction a former bunker can be preserved. Its relevance is created out ouf its absurdity. read
22/03
Reductio ad absurdum
Article 22/02
7/1/2022Jerome BeckerMatthias Moroder

The balance of chaos and structure

In conversation with Jerome Becker and Matthias Moroder, Marc Leschelier emphasises his aversion to functionalism and stresses the importance of architecture as a form of expression. read
22/02
Chaos and Structure
Article 22/01
7/1/2022Gerrit Confurius
Teatro di Marcello, Rom, Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778), ca. 1757

Permanence as a principle

Gerrit Confurius recalls the end of the printed edition of Daidalos and recommends the principle of permanence as a strategy for the future tasks of architecture as well. read
22/01
Permanence as a principle
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