What is the modern day equivalent of Michelangelo’s famous statues and marble reliefs?
Architect Changiz Tehrani thinks they’re emojis. And he’s so sure of it, that he has just put 22 of them on a building in the Netherlands.
“In classical architecture, they used heads of the king or whatever, and they put that on the facade,” he told the Verge. “So we were thinking, what can we use as an ornament so when you look at this building in 10 or 20 years you can say ‘hey this is from that year!'”
The building is constructed around the lines of a grid, with pillars of brick, beams of white concrete, and decorative circles at the intersections. The emojis only appear on one side of the structure, which faces a town square and a 150-year-old oak. The building itself is of mixed-use. There are shops on the ground floor and flats above them.
The designs of the 22 emoji were borrowed from a template used by WhatsApp, and converted into 3D models by Attika Architekten. These were then sent to the building company involved in the project. They created the molds for the emojis and took care of the casting.
“There are all these young people there, and emoji is a thing of now,” said Tehrani, an employee of the Dutch firm Attika Architekten. “The students sit in the square and have lunch and they take pictures. They like it. And with our architecture, we always like to put in small details that make the project a little bit more than a boring building.”
Some, however, didn’t think this was a good idea. “Architecture is serious,” Sean Khorsandi, a professor of architectural history and theory at New York Institute of Technology, told WIRED. “We’re using copious materials, and we’re taking up land. There is a responsibility that goes along with that.”
“If everything is a joke; reduced to this disposable ‘I like it in the moment’ fad, that’s a dangerous attitude to have.” In his opinion, Tehrani’s use of emojis didn’t advance architectural thought or technology.
Furthermore, Khorsandi pointed out that most of the discussion about the building has focused on the emojis, not its fairly pedestrian design.”In my opinion this is cliché and the building will date itself very quickly.”