What drives the internet’s (perhaps morbid) obsession with bad design? Strange angles, melting paint, oddly-placed and vaguely threatening toilets, signage that hinders rather than helps, stairs to nowhere, and misplaced windows have all caused digital rubbernecking.
Whether it’s critiquing the bric-a-brac nature of suburban homes assembled by the nouveau-riche in McMansion Hell, or posting abject failures in the 1.5-million-member-strong r/CrappyDesign subreddit, the demand for “bad design” to critique seems bottomless.
The worst offenders are frequently aggregated on Instagram, meme-y Facebook pages, Twitter, and listicles, repackaged and reshared failures of design for new audiences. Enter the Cursed Architecture Twitter account, which has been posting baffling, incomplete, and/or possibly haunted buildings since September of last year.
— Cursed Architecture (@CursedArchitect) April 15, 2019
— Cursed Architecture (@CursedArchitect) April 11, 2019
— Cursed Architecture (@CursedArchitect) April 8, 2019
— Cursed Architecture (@CursedArchitect) April 2, 2019
i’m on the way to america and i spent the night inside the most nightmarish and oppressive bit of architecture i’ve seen in a long while pic.twitter.com/IRlZh49h3R
— dom (@zerstoerer) March 15, 2019
— Scarn Carndall (@scarncarndall) March 22, 2019
— Cursed Architecture (@CursedArchitect) March 14, 2019
When asked about where they compile their material from and why they think it has such an enduring appeal, the owner of Cursed Architecture had this to say:
“I started collecting the images a couple of years ago because I thought they were funny, and later on made the account for my own entertainment. I never expected it to be so popular—or popular at all. I’m a little stunned by it, honestly. The images come from all over the Internet: house listings, DIY forums, and so on. Some are submitted to me.
“We live in a very planned, sanitary, squared-off world. I think that’s why the failures are so funny, and why they resonate. So much current architecture is totally impersonal, but a bizarre mistake is the opposite. It invites the question of who did it, and why, and who thought three urinals crowded into a corner or a staircase to nowhere was a good idea. There’s something very human about that.”
Perhaps the collective fascination with such failures stems from the internet’s ability to give would-be critics a seat at the table, allowing anyone to weigh in. It’s also possible that when faced with overwhelmingly terrible design that fails at a basic level, everyone can put aside their quibbles and unite to make fun of it, together.