Architecture has the power to evoke feelings and memories in viewers, not to mention a specific source of inspiration the designer may have harnessed. Some are straightforward, like Frank Gehry’s Binoculars Building, while others represent an abstraction of one or more ideas, and so the meaning can change depending on the perspective who’s looking.
That’s how a building with a gridded exterior of colorful squares, like Jean Nouvel’s Torre Glòries, or a glass building whose windows gently bow out from a matrix of diamonds, like Herzog and de Meuron’s Prada store in Tokyo, can recall something as simple and down to earth as a quilted blanket. Patchwork-style exteriors, even on the highest of high-design architecture, can still call forth the idea of using what’s on hand to create something new, however mismatched, or mending something over time, or the careful planning it takes to create the dazzling aesthetic harmony that’s possible with basic colors and shapes.
Below, ADrounds up five of the most beautiful buildings in the world that were inspired by blankets.
Founded in 1965, Drop City was a community of counterculture artists in southern Colorado who created the very first "hippie commune." The movement began with Drop Art, performance art-style works inspired by artists like Allan Kaprow, and led to a village of live-in Drop Art domes fabricated from a quilt-like assembly of multicolored car roofs and scrap metal. The structures were inspired by the architecture designs of Buckminster Fuller, who eventually awarded the group his Dymaxion Award in 1967. By the early 1970s, the inhabitants moved on and the commune was abandoned.
South Korean artist Choi Jeong-Hwa used 1,000 salvaged doors to turn the facade of this 10-story building in Seoul into a charming blanket-like patchwork of muted colors. Installed in 2009, the public work showcased the artist's favorite medium—recycled materials—to cover the scaffolding that surrounded the structure.
With a playful geometry like that of a classic American quilt, Texas artist Margo Sawyer's Synchronicity of Color is a two part installation in downtown Houston's Discovery Park. The twin structures, one predominantly red and the other blue, serve as covers for stairwells that lead down to an underground parking garage. Made of multicolored aluminum boxes, the work was officially dedicated in 2008.
A barn in Kentucky prominently displays a colorful painted star quilt block. More than just decoration, Barn Quilts, as they're known, are the idea of Ohio resident Donna Sue Groves, who envisioned the paintings on multiple barns to create a trail that would drive tourism in her town and others like it. She and a group of volunteers painted the first quilt in 2001, and they've since spread across the country.
Barcelona, Spain, is home to Torre Glòries, a skyscraper that features a double facade of colorful aluminum squares behind an outer layer of glass. The sheets of metal are painted, while the panes of glass surrounding them have different opacities, resulting in a patchwork quilt-style exterior that looks different depending on the time of day. Seen here in a close-up, the conical building is designed in the shape of a spouting geyser, according to the architect, Pritzker Prize winner Jean Nouvel.
The multicolored exterior of the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León in Spain was designed by Mansilla+Tuñón Arquitectos to resemble a rose window at a local gothic cathedral, though it's rectangular grid evokes the simple geometry of a classic quilt or the patterns in an afghan blanket. This building has won widespread acclaim for its design, including being featured in the On-Site: New Architecture in Spain exhibition at the MoMa in 2006 and winning the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture in 2007.
Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog and de Meuron, the Prada flagship store in Tokyo's Omotesando neighborhood features a grid pattern reminiscent of diamond quilting, a geometric stitch pattern that's decorative but also holds a blanket's fill in place. What's more, the panes of glass in each diamond are either flat, concave, or convex, evoking a tufted blanket.
In 2014, artist Daniel Buren transformed the glazed facade of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Strasbourg, France, into a colorful patchwork of squares using tinted film. Titled "like child’s play, work in situ", the installation modified the architecture designed by Adrien Fainsilber, provided the city an independent space to house the municipal art collection it had amassed since 1870.