Bottle Opener, by KPF
In the magazine of the New York Times Arthur Lebow writes that the design of the World Financial Center (WFC) in Shanghai by Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF) had to be changed because of its iconography. The relieve the wind pressure on the 101-story building KPF designed a round hole in the top of the building.
The mixed-use tower with offices and 300-room hotel is however developed by the Japanese Mori Company. The Chinese read the round hole as a metaphor for the red sun in the Japanese flag. The Chinese government put the project on hold for half a year, while asking for a redesign. Eventually KPF changed the round hole into a parallelogram.
This case shows how important iconography has become in architecture. And the emphasis that the Chinese put on iconography put a promise in place for the future.
At first the tower seemed beautifully ’stapled’ -how appropriate for an office building!- at the top. Now it looks like a bottle-opener. Plop!
A Geoff-ian speculation is appropriate here. How much fun would it be if the Chinese would actually make a miniture version of the building that can actually open bottles? It would be a present that could be given away to business relations, or sold on the street to tourists. Finally the tourist-rubbish could be actually functional. It would be the first architecture that opens bottles.
It would redefine iconography as we know it. Designers would start to consider the functional properties of the scale model of the building. Iconic buildigs always have such a miniature copy. Buildings would be designed to have a double function as lighter, cork, usb-stick, pen, lamp, bowl, lipstick, pencil, bookstand, dildo, ruler, croissants, and even champagne glasses.