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Formal fetishes

Although it is mostly associated with the world of sex, sexual activities and kink, we are all victims of this feeling on a day to day basis. I say victims because it is something that comes in a subconscious way, it attacks our ideas and the way we go about our life. As individuals we are attracted to things, objects, concepts, which to anyone else could seem trivial, but for us they have a strong psychological effect. Evidently I am talking about our deepest, dirtiest and most twisted fetishes.

As students of architecture and architects we might confuse those feelings with passion or we might even call it our style. How many times have you got into bed … this is getting interesting right? … but been unable to sleep because the glass that you chose for a façade didn’t feel right? And how many times did you try to include a particular element in your design even though you know that it does not fit well with the concept? The concept of fetish however should not be something scary. It is a normal part of who we are and like it or not, as creative, we will be showing it to the public quite a lot.

Although being rooted in a deeper concept, the idea of fetish will be portrayed in a primordial sense in this article, in order to see how far a strong idea can take us. As the movie Inception describes it; an idea is the most dangerous thing, it is a virus that spreads to everything it touches and to oppose it means to deny yourself. There are many buildings out there, some by famous architects, that took a concept a step too far … or did they?! Is it the work of an architect to make sure that people do not end up fetishising its creations? With media being such a big factor in public opinion those days, who is actually giving birth to buildings such as ‘the Gherkin’, ‘the Cheese grater’? If we look to the philosophers that analysed and debated fetish, we can understand one thing, or at least this is what I observed: fetish is about control, and how better to illustrate this than through architecture. We want to influence the way people use a space, we are looking to determine the way they approach a building, how they see a surface, how they perceive a material. So through the following images I will attempt to get to the bottom, or to the top, of some of the more ‘libidinous’ buildings.

by Adrian Alexandrescu

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