Decorating The Duck

By Architecture Insights

Decorating The Duck

101 things architecture can learn from environmanetal graphic gesign

In his book Learning From Las Vegas Robert Venturi made “the distinction between the Duck and the Decorated Shed as architectural prototypes for our time: that is, the building as itself a symbol, exemplified by the Long Island Duck…and the building as generic loft whose aesthetic derives from its decorative or iconographic surfaces and/or applied design” advocating for the latter as the way forward for architecture.

Signs and sign systems have had a greater impact on the composition of our built and social environments than we could have ever imagined – both on a visual and cultural level. While Robert Venturi speculated on the landscape of signs in Las Vegas in the 70′s, he may not have imagined to what extent these communicative structures would begin to rule, not just Vegas as a “vernacular”, but the world, developed and undeveloped. While modernist and deconstructivist architecture valiantly attempts to maintain a pure architecture (pure duckness) – it is difficult to ignore the notion that sign and architecture are becoming one. Whether it be a cultural institution, a commercial building or an urban landscape, architecture is no longer an expression of structure and less a machine for living than a machine for communication.

Through a series of building case studies from Seoul to Rotterdam to Reno, practical experience and interviews with acclaimed practitioners and attendance at the SEGD Design conference, this investigation aims to explore whether Space and Sign cannot coexist more harmoniously. Helping architecture to retain the importance of its unique spatiality and form – the importance of it’s duckness, whilst enveloping signage and wayfinding in its midst. Decorating the Duck.