At first glance, it appears to be like any other ordinary mixed-use building — until you take a closer.
In place of gargoyles, this new structure, located in Amersfoort, Netherlands, is covered in emoji — 22 of them — all smiling, frowning, grimacing and occasionally displaying their tongues.
This Building Is Covered in Emoji | Smart News | Smithsonian @LeonoraOT @nurse_w_glasses #Amersfoort https://t.co/1R8xtI5LTD
— Michael Barley (@theremonstrator) April 28, 2017
It’s the brainchild of Changiz Tehrani and Dutch architecture firm Attika Architekten, according to The Verge.
Ancient Egyptians may have had their hieroglyphics and Mayan temples used similar decorative messages. But today’s social media-savvy public use emojis to get their point across using the fewest words possible.
The building was completed in 2015 and tenants began moving in last year — merchants at the street level and apartment-dwellers above. But the cast concrete emoji were only recently added in a nod to modernity.
“In classical architecture, they used heads of the king or whatever, and they put that on the façade,” Tehrani told The Verge. “So we were thinking, what can we use as an ornament so when you look at this building in 10 or 20 years you can say ‘hey this is from that year!’” Emoji is what he came up with as the obvious answer.
The emoji only appear on one side of the building — the side facing the town square, which is centered around a 150-year-old oak tree.
This building [in Vathorst, Amersfoort] uses emoji cast in concrete as modern gargoyles (via The Hmm facebook) https://t.co/2P7KJm6YDR
— Lieven (@liev) April 29, 2017
“There’s all these young people there, and emoji is a thing of now,” Tehrani explained. “The students sit in the square and have lunch and they take pictures. They like it. And with our architecture, we always like to put in small details that make the project a little bit more than a boring building.”
The Verge reported:
The design for each emoji was taken from the template used by WhatsApp, and converted by Attika into a 3D model. These were then sent to the building company involved in the project, which created molds for the emoji and cast them in concrete. Only faces were chosen as they were the most expressive and recognizable emoji.
Critics of the decorative emoji claim that they’ll show their age — but Tehrani said that’s precisely the point.
“If you look at history, people always think ‘Oh this is timeless,’ or ‘This will stay forever,’ and they’re always wrong.” Better, he says, to accept that aiming for architectural immortality is impossible, and have fun embracing what’s truly contemporary. “It’s like with Facebook. Facebook used to be cool and now it’s just for older people. So maybe we won’t use emoji in 10 years — that’s fine. It’s still from our time.”
People weren’t necessarily on board with this project.
“Or whatever” https://t.co/ly39viysh2
— Ian Bogost (@ibogost) April 30, 2017
@ibogost And because that is how we want history to remember this time period.
— Jon D Harrison (@CT_blog) April 30, 2017
@ibogost I’ve never been so disappointed in humanity.
— Brian Ostrowski (@BrianO_Author) April 30, 2017
The #emoji takeover is officially complete ??This Building Has Emoji Gargoyles https://t.co/sN9thHz9VE pic.twitter.com/MZiN4Bj52O
— Avantika Mehta (@bitingfriends) April 30, 2017
And that’s how 21st-century western civilization will be remembered — not for great documents such as the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution, but rather for a smiley face.
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