Taking the Fun Out the “Play” House


Musikerhaus, Dusseldorf, under construction

You can count on Lebbeus Woods to provide startling clarity to any object he examines. Still, I have to wonder about his comments on architect Raimund Abraham’s project, Musikerhaus (Music House). Designed in four quadrants, each housing a musician, with an open middle where they can meet and perform together, the Musikerhaus is clearly a special form of “play house”.

Or as Woods notes:

Musikerhaus « LEBBEUS WOODS

How accustomed we are to architecture entertaining us with its novelty, or its richness, or its melodrama! This building challenges us with its sober, still, enigmatic presence. We are discomfited, unprepared. And then, we hear within it the sounds of music being played, crisp, equally clear and abstract, yet elusive, ephemeral….and we understand.

Without taking anything from this eloquent description, and speaking as a former rock music critic, this perspective feels awfully serious. The fact that music is “played” points to the non-trivial fact that music is also fun. The Musikerhaus construction is not quite complete. But my bet is this will be a fun house as much as some shrine to design.

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Two Videos and a Point About The Science of Place


The subject of place has a tendency to wander off into positivist places where quantification rules and science seems to tell us how people behave and how we should design places.

The world of videogames staggers toward this abyss as well, with review scores and all manner of measurement suggesting that game design could benefit from some more formal science of fun.

And then we find this video:

Crowded Pool

And this one:

Fake Pool

What these two places have in common, other than the subject of “swimming pool.”, is that they are both completely wrapped around the idea of fun and defy a rational explanation.Why would so many people pack into the same wave pool? What would someone build a purposely realistic, but fake, pool?


Wacky Dubai — Summoning the Future


If you study videogames and architecture, a common response when people ask what you research is:

“Oh, really?”

I think that’s about to change.

Designboom has posted a fascinating, well, let’s be honest, completely insane, look at proposed buildings in Dubai

dubai architecture: new buildings in the united arab emirates

Taking ‘The Cloud’ as an example, this “speculative design” for a resort that floats on massive struts 300 meters above the ground sounds like something Archigram might have concoted. But placed against the actual buildings under construction or in development ( The Burj Dubai and Hadid’s Dancing Towers come to mind), something as improbably as The Cloud seems a plausible reality.

What does architecture have to do with videogames? If videogame designers don’t get busy, soon the built environment will provide more exotic, fanciful and playful places than those fictional worlds inside the computer.

Strange, but true.

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