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Introduction to the Cabinet of Architectural Curiosities

Here is a cabinet that is becoming filled with architectural curiosities. There have been recent cabinets of Philosophical Curiosities (by Roy Sorensen) and Mathematical Curiosities (by Ian Stewart), but not, so far, an architectural cabinet. I hope to rectify this situation. I plan to include some simple mathematics and more than one philosopher.

There is a great deal of very strange architecture around the world: buildings in the shapes of fruit, fast food, teapots, hats or animals (my favourite is the Indonesian chicken church – neither a church, nor a chicken); extremely thin houses; fantasy castles; buildings made of bottles or bones; troglodyte and underwater buildings; decaying houses in the shapes of UFOs; abandoned military installations of uncertain purpose; not to mention the excesses of certain prominent extrovert post-modernists. Many of these are listed on the Atlas Obscura travel guide website, with instructions on how to get there.

A few of these may find their way into this collection: but I do not plan simply to pick odd buildings for their oddity. Rather I intend to seek out architectural curiosities where there is some picturesque story, or some conceptual, technical or philosophical issue involved. The ambition is to cover topics ranging from the Ancient world to today, from aesthetics to the economics of construction, and from America to China. The advantage of a digital Wunderkammer is that one can travel the world vicariously without ever having to leave home.

As with many such collections, this Cabinet will contain the proceeds of a sustained campaign of theft from other books, papers, and websites. But at least I will identify the victims of these crimes, in notes. Some of the robberies will be from my own writings. There will be much mocking of architects, and the profession will not always be presented in a good light: but I have a licence to do this, since I trained as an architect myself. Guests will contribute items from time to time. Suggestions and contributions from readers are also very welcome

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