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The degree to which the imagination may seize upon a thing as the starting point for its own singular expansions, is a direct outcome of the thing’s balance between allure & allusiveness, and inaccessibility & exclusion.

It is precisely the unsaid in poetry or prose, the lacunae of meaning in their lines which is seized upon by our imagination, which adds an ineffable depth unique to each reader. Architecture can be similarly expansive through calibrated absence, through the combination of a strange form of appeal in a building or place -an alluring resonance in its form- which when combined with an inability to access its interiors or approach its walls, excites the imagination to such an extent, that it fills the unapproachable place with all the fevered speculations of a mind piqued by an unsatisfiable curiosity. The ancient Greeks and Hebrews made their temple and temples intensely visible, in fact omni-present in their landscapes and cities, and yet entirely untouchable -off limits- because they knew that the less people experienced something, the more inaccessible it was, the larger that thing loomed in the mind, the greater its aura became, the more people would dream at night as to what its interiors contained, the more they whispered amongst themselves tales of impossible grandeur and terrifying strangeness. In the ‘Island of the dead’ series Arnold Bocklin repeatedly painted a scene, an architectural-natural scenario which visualised an isolated place of loss, constructed of recognisable, ancient & elemental items, cypress trees, architraves, a wall, a cove, a ledge, all of which were however composed in such a way that they were de-familiarised, made strange, rendered as being entirely outside of our recognisable experience. The island paintings were representations of a notional, inaccessible place which existed only in the interaction between the curiosity piqued in the observer by the depiction, and the imaginative trajectories and narratives conjured up in the observer’s mind which were woven around Bocklin’s allusive imagery.

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Architectural Icons is a celebration of brilliant styles of architecture from all over the world. Our mission is to disrupt the everyday by challenging the norm when it comes to building depictions.

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"Architectural Icons' designs always brighten up my day with a supercharged dose of colour and joy." Olly Wainwright, Architecture & Design Critic, The Guardian.

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