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Sunday, April 1, 2012

I’ll have the Giant Pineapple, with the Door on the Side. Hold the parsley. (April 1, 2012. But this is no April Fool's joke. I love this stuff!)

Have you heard about a giant pineapple, rising fifty feet into the sky? It’s on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, on a pineapple plantation. I discovered it online a few months ago when I was looking for programmatic architecture (buildings whose shape references what is sold inside). Up popped this cheerful pineapple, and my excitement began. I do like pineapples (I made my own pineapple costume last Halloween, as you may recall), but my fascination with this pineapple building went beyond my own fondness for the prickly yellow ovals.

Buildings that surprise us are simply awesome. Most buildings are concerned with being level and plumb, and I understand that whole stability detail. But think about how many buildings you’ve seen in your life. Hundreds of thousands? How many of them involve square corners, some variation on a box? Almost every single one. That’s why it’s so startling and thrilling to see a building created with a completely different approach.

This pineapple building flouts tradition in its lack of square corners, which I appreciate (remember my blog about the Quonset hut?). But it also appeals to me because it is playful, as I am, and most buildings aren’t designed with that quality in mind. Most buildings strive to be elegant or serious or functional. Playfulness is not a main design ideal. I say we need more buildings that are fun as well as functional. Life isn’t just about function. There needs to be
enjoyment along the way.

I’m brought back to the books and tv shows I loved as a child. Smurfs lived in curvy mushroom houses. Bears lived in trees converted into houses, complete with front doors. Winnie the Pooh’s friends all lived in houses carved into the trunks of trees. Richard Scarry’s books were populated by animals driving cars shaped like pickles, apples and eggs.

I spent a lot of happy childhood hours immersed in a creative universe in which function and square corners were not the dictating elements. No wonder I’m not fazed by buildings of unusual shapes—I’m mesmerized by them! (And who penned the memo that we outgrow a need to be amused? Most kids’ books and movies involve a suspension of reality to some degree. That’s why they’re fun. Talking frogs? Bears in dresses, driving pickle cars? No wonder kids laugh so much more than adults do. We need to reintroduce silliness to most adults. If adults laughed more, I think we’d have a happier world. I’m not saying that all grown-up problems can be solved with apple-shaped cars. But laughter is healing and grown-ups need some fun, too.)

There are too many fanciful buildings to discuss in one blog piece. I’ll break it into bite-sized pieces and we’ll have a few chats about fun architecture. All this talk is making me yearn to add a fun, curvy room to the front of our house: maybe a pineapple! Hubby is great with tools and could frame it up, I could cover the whole thing with mosaic and sew vintagy-looking curtains (with pineapple fabric) for it. Hubby is pretty tolerant of my wacky ideas, but this might be a bit much for him. Must persuade him somehow. I can see it now. Directions to our house would be so easy: take the freeway to the second exit, go south, and look for the giant fruit out front!

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