The London firm of architects FAT (Fashion Architecture Taste) is closing. This will come as good news to architecture purists, but it is sad for those of us who liked having this jester seriously at work in a profession that sometimes takes itself too seriously.
The group of the architects who made up this practice was making the kind of buildings Walt Disney might have produced if he had a touch of the bovver boy (an English term for a hooligan who is bothersome). The comparison is even more apt because FAT often creates buildings that look like facades for film sets or novelty buildings in theme parks. They draw and quote from all kinds of resources from popular culture to fine art.
They have followed a practice of building which some might describe as follies. To an extent they are: a Romanesque church made from blue sequins, a school that resembles a Gothic wedding cake. The field of design they produced included a seat that requires one to sit on a 3D Hercules foam face. Their comic exaggeration and the graphic impact of their buildings enlivens surroundings that are often bleak or banal.
“We all feel we’ve completed what we set out to do,” said Sam Jacob in an interview with The Guardian.
“He has worked with fellow partners Sean Griffiths and Charles Holland for the last 23 years on everything from art installations to social housing, alongside a prolific volume of writing and teaching.
“‘FAT was only ever intended to be a project, a way of taking a set of ideas out into the world,’ he says. ‘We still can’t believe we’ve had so many opportunities to make buildings.’
“Next summer will see the completion of their final built project, a ceramic-clad gingerbread temple in a field in Essex, designed with artist Grayson Perry as part of Alain de Botton’s series of rentable holiday homes. A cross between a Thai wat and an Essex barn, it promises to be one of the most intricately layered concoctions the practice has produced.
“‘When I spoke to Grayson Perry he said, ‘You know that what I hate above all are those sleek cool white glass and steel modernists. They make me feel ill,” recalls de Botton. ‘I therefore knew right away that we had to move in a very particular direction – and that there was possibly only (one) player in town who could respond adequately.’”
CFile has selected a few projects to feature as a farewell to to architecture’s greatest pranksters. The Perry house is discussed in another post in this issue.
Garth Clark is the Chief Editor of CFile
Above image: FAT won a competition to design this two storey building as part of the Liverpool ONE masterplan in Liverpool city centre. It is located in the former Church Yard arcade.
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