Tractor Tire, by Licotec
Have we reached the end of iconography in architecture? Offices that a couple years ago enthusiastically embraced iconography, have now abandoned it for more abstract representations. Foreign Office Architects has shifted its focus to ornamental patterns, Neutelings Riedijk is researching bare, round and oval forms. Did we pass the finish of iconography in architecture without noticing?
In architecture avant-garde positions in only years time are absorbed by the architecture community, who in their turn pass it on to contractors and self-builders. In the Netherlands for example the Piraeus building that Hans Kollhoff designed in Amsterdam made such an impression that for years Dutch architects only used very dark, even black, bricks for their buildings. By now that practice has become so banal that architects have turned to the next thing: brickwork constructed in decorative patterns.
Was it the Bird’s Nest stadium by Herzog & de Meuron that marked the completion of the iconography-project in architecture? Following the example set by the Olympic Stadium, this Friday roof manufacturer Licotec presented a design similarly loaded with iconography. This time the reference doesn’t point to a phenomenon in nature, but to an industrial design.
The proposed 20,000 seat stadium is meant for football club ‘de Graafschap’ in the rural east of the Netherlands. Since the supporters of the club are nicknamed ‘Superboeren’, superfarmers, Licotec has thought: why not build stadium in the form of a gigantic tractor tire?
The image of the tractor tire of course has nothing to do with the idea of a stadium, but the same could be said about the image of the bird’s nest. But whereas the form of the Olympic Stadium was highly fashionable, the form of the design by Licotec seems uncomfortable funny.
What fascinates me though is the fact that the iconography of the Tractor Tire is virtuous. The architecture celebrates the rural culture in the ‘Achterhoek’, as the area is called. Here the banality of the iconography has found its welcome home. The image represents the raw country life and the simple pleasures the farmers enjoy so much – such as football.
Licotec probably isn’t aware of the fact that it isn’t the first to apply the image of the tire to architecture. About ten years ago Neutelings Riedijk build a fire station in the city of Maastricht, whose concrete façade has the track of a car tire imprinted on it. The iconography there was a contextual one too: the building was located next to the ring road of the city.
Related on Eikongraphia: Banknote, by RA Studija; Barcode, by Vitruvius; Basket, by NBBJ; Moose, by Storalgen; Tulip, by Innovatieplatform 1; Tulip, by Innovatieplatform 2; Toilet Pot, by Duck; Oil Lamp; Lipstick, by Johnson;
Related on YouTube: a video of the stadium, with tractors!