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FOMA 5: Plaster Masterpieces

FOMA 5: Plaster Masterpieces

In our fifth edition of Forgotten Masterpieces let’s get inspired by architectures designed and built with great enthusiasm but to exist for very limited time. Tinka B. Prekovič, architect and Outsider editorial board member is this time sharing strange, beautiful, banal and unusual “Plasterpieces”.

The Palace of Fine Arts of the Panama - Pacific International Exposition-PPIE by Bernard Maybeck, San Francisco, 1915 (partial demolition and reconstruction with durable materials in 1964) | Photo © Gordon Peters

The Palace of Fine Arts of the Panama - Pacific International Exposition-PPIE by Bernard Maybeck, San Francisco, 1915 (partial demolition and reconstruction with durable materials in 1964) | Photo © Gordon Peters

Demolition of the Arch of the Rising Sun of The Panama – Pacific International Exposition in 1915. | Photo via San Francisco CIty Guides

Demolition of the Arch of the Rising Sun of The Panama – Pacific International Exposition in 1915. | Photo via San Francisco CIty Guides

With their colossal presentation, and extreme and iconic architectural language, such masterpieces include temporary mega-structures at fun fairs and world expos. Most were dismantled after the event in question ended, or were left to ruin or decay, accelerated by the fact that they were made of non-durable materials and structure. While seldom remain known, their architectural language is mostly pioneer, with direct address and impact, could be extremely futuristic, reflecting or predicting social progress, welfare and zeitgeist.

Demolition of The Italian Tower at The Panama – Pacific International Exposition in 1916. | Photo via Collectors Weekely

Demolition of The Italian Tower at The Panama – Pacific International Exposition in 1916. | Photo via Collectors Weekely

Temporary life enabled such structures to move beyond established architectural styles, reasoning, construction and function. Unlike in “durable” architecture, their construction logic is often ‘fake’ or atectonic, with the structure only providing support for the scenery rather than reflecting substantive function. Rational choice is not of concern. For most of these architectures the documentation is already lost, no plans or sometimes even any name of their creators, the architects can be found.

Futurama, General Motors pavilion for the New York World’s Fair in 1939. | Photo courtesy the National Building Museum

Futurama, General Motors pavilion for the New York World’s Fair in 1939. | Photo courtesy the National Building Museum

Their virtues are largely limited to what one can see at the first glance, to having the most ostentatious silhouette in the exposition experience. Nevertheless, a few have managed to leave a lasting impact despite their initial temporary purpose or even went down in history as new landmarks (Tour Eiffel, The Crystal Palace).

The Crystal Palace at Sydenham Hill in1854. | Photo via Studio Tom Emerson

The Crystal Palace at Sydenham Hill in1854. | Photo via Studio Tom Emerson

These are temporary masterpieces, their destruction and nonpresence cannot take away their integrity of being an architecture. Are they Masterpieces for a day? Plaster Masterpieces? Plasterpieces?

Tinka B. Prekovič (*1975) is an architect, writer and editor from Slovenia. Her interests include architecture, art and curiosities. She designed a post stamp at 21, invented an utopian infrastructural object called Fatamorgana for her diploma work and received various prizes and awards for her work. Currently obsessed with mirrors. She is member of the editorial board of Outsider, a ground-breaking Slovenian magazine for architecture and art. She is continuously searching for the strange, beautiful, borderline, obscure, banal and unusual. A story digger and a story teller. She is searching for architectures and urbanisms which were designed or destroyed by excessive passion, random wants, unfortunate coincidences or construction flaws, or simply designed and built to exist for a limited time. The abandoned La Cupola is one of the first great little stories she found for Architectuul.

Tinka B. Prekovič (*1975) is an architect, writer and editor from Slovenia. Her interests include architecture, art and curiosities. She designed a post stamp at 21, invented an utopian infrastructural object called Fatamorgana for her diploma work and received various prizes and awards for her work. Currently obsessed with mirrors. She is member of the editorial board of Outsider, a ground-breaking Slovenian magazine for architecture and art. She is continuously searching for the strange, beautiful, borderline, obscure, banal and unusual. A story digger and a story teller. She is searching for architectures and urbanisms which were designed or destroyed by excessive passion, random wants, unfortunate coincidences or construction flaws, or simply designed and built to exist for a limited time. The abandoned La Cupola is one of the first great little stories she found for Architectuul.

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