Olson Kundig’s winning story and artwork from an architecture-themed literary contest

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Artwork by Olson Kundig for “Welcome To The Fifth Façade” (Courtesy Olson Kundig)

Artwork by Olson Kundig for “Welcome To The Fifth Façade” (Courtesy Olson Kundig)

Are you interested in the intersection between the written word, architecture, design, art, and urbanism?

Last week, the online platform, Blank Space, announced the winners of their third annual flash fiction contest, this year called “Fairy Tales 2016.” The competition invited designers—from students, to academics, to professionals—to submit their best creative short fiction stories and self-made accompanying illustrations to address what happens “when architecture tells a story.” There were over 1,500 submissions from 67 countries. Judges included Elizabeth Diller, founding Partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and co-director of the Serpentine Galleries, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, among others.

First place went to local Seattle firm Olson Kundig Architects (Alan Maskin, Jerome Tryon, Kevin Scott, Gabriela Frank & Katie Miller) for “Welcome To The Fifth Façade,” their science fiction take on the implications of cryonics, rebirth, omnipresent virtual reality, and the future of urban rooftops as economic centers and social spaces:

“During the decades that I slept, the rooftops of Seattle had changed. The grey waterproofing membranes, HVAC equipment, elevator machine rooms, long-empty water towers, and miles of ductwork were replaced with a vast pastoral landscape. Rolling green hills, public parks and swimming pools, pastures with livestock, and vegetable farms were joined by enormous water collectors, solar arrays, and wind energy turbines. Bridges, like connective tendons, unified the separate buildings into a continuous landscape. I could wander anywhere, and I did.”

Olson Kundig has also created a narrated video of their short story.

The jury awarded second place to Haga Ben Naim, an architecture student in Paris whose piece,“Parisian Lullaby,” addresses the social and political layers that give meaning to our public spaces:

“After sunset, when the moon rises and the park’s gate is closed, darkness falls over romantic Paris and reason falls asleep. Then, another world wakes up. A world of anxieties and madness, of crime and dirt, where you can’t find logic, right angles or straight lines.”

And third place went to University of Waterloo architecture student, Kobi Logendrarajah for his “12 Nautical Miles,” a Herman Melville-esque tale of the economics of architecture and real estate development on an inhabited oil rig:

“They call me the Lock(e)smith. I created the real estate game in Barena, developed subdivisions, and controlled the flow of the market. John Locke once said ‘Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labor with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property.’ I’m firm believer in this ideology, the epitome of practicing the full capabilities of one’s freedom. With the strength of Locke’s words and the financial backing I inherited from my father’s enterprise, I began constructing buildings in the market spaces on the oil platform.”

There were also ten honorable mentions. You can find the provocative stories and immersive illustrations online, and if you’d rather have something more physically permanent, Blank Space is compiling the works and illustrations of the winners and honorable mentions into a hardcover book coming out this June.

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