Fashioning Architecture Weighs in on Brand as Place

This is the first guest post on my blog. Recently, you might have noticed my series on the branding of spaces and places. I thought it fitting to have the perspective of a student of space weigh in here and offer some insights from someone less obsessed with the graphic articulation of complexity and more obsessed with the origins of much of that complexity. I have long been a fan of architecture, but still have much to learn. Thank you to Miss Bozzi over at fashioning architecture for her myriad perspectives and for being a constant source of inspiration. I hope to publish many more of our long evening discussions in the future as I find they keep me grounded and help me to find a balance. Enjoy and thanks again!

When Foster first started this branding series, I was inspired. And then he asked me to write a guest post about branding, specifically branding of cities/countries, from an architectural perspective, and I was honored.

Right off the bat without much research into the topic, I really question if architecture can be branding? Does architecture need to be branded? Why do we need logos and typefaces for cities if the space can brand itself?

But then on the other hand, ‘architectural branding’ has become the new buzzword of the architectural industry in the last decades and rightfully so, since architecture becomes an expression of the newly developed experiential brands. Despite our increasingly virtual world, we still need physical buildings to establish personal relationships with brands and architecture plays a vital role in this equation by not only confining customer experience, but defining it, which is more than any brand can do. I really question the ideology that architectural branding adds significant value. And I am still waiting for a good reason for why architecture itself can’t brand the cities.

Take a look at skylines. I think that you could probably guess which planning committees in the United States use their skyline as a branding form. In some cases the city skyline is a brand. When I look at the silhouette of Seattle, I know right away, “oh hey, that’s the space needle!”  And when I see the Washington Monument peering up, I immediately think “oh hey, that is Washington D.C.!” The proof is in the pudding and the postcards.

Seattle
Iconic Space Needle in Seattle
The District's Obelisk
The District of Columbia’s Obelisk

To be more critical, I really have to examine architecture at a human scale, not from the vantage of a hot air balloon. When you look at a downtown skyline, there is no sense of what the city really feels like, what culture is like, or the people who live there. What about cities that do not have a memorable skyline? What goes on their postcard?

I recently became fascinated with how the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao was constructed as part of a revitalization effort for the city. It turns out that the Bilbao, as it has come to be known, has defined the new cultural position of the city because people come from all over the world to see Frank Gehry’s design.  In a way, the museum has transformed the city and made way for gentrification in the surrounding areas. Although the success of this single piece of architecture constructed in a run-down environment is remarkable, I am left wondering what would Bilbao be like if Frank Gehry hadn’t been commissioned.

The Guggenheim Bilbao
The Guggenheim Bilbao by Frank Gehry

The Guggenheim Museum was supposed to create a new image of the city in an effort to attract development. Since the city’s decisions did attract this outside development, it is now deemed successful. When people visit the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao they leave in awe of Frank Gehry’s Decontructivist work, but are they fascinated by the city and the people of Bilbao? In fact, in Chicago, you can experience a piece of Bilbao at Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion. Ironic. Or you can go to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and experience Bilbao. In the end, are all these little pieces of Bilbao spread throughout the world, in fact, pieces of the brand of Gehry?

Image links:

Seattle’s Space Needle: http://www.visitingdc.com/picture/seattle-skyline-picture.asp

D.C. :  http://blogs.state.gov/index.php/site/entry/young_legislative_fellows_dc

Guggenheim: http://www.guggenheim.org/bilbao

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Vladimir: Transforming Russia, One City at a Time: Khramov

Kursk
Kursk: Case One

From the city of Samara in Russia, Vladimir Khramov has set himself and his studio Stilistica.ru ahead of the curve with its positioning of cities. Bridging the gaps between graphic design and architecture to create unique and powerful brands, Vladimir’s work is about the experience of form. We are confronted with a city’s physicality in his work as well as its unique story, a rare experience, but one often felt when visiting an urban area. Vladimir’s thoughtful exploration of line, texture, and dimension gives a viewer the chance to experience not just a city but also the history of a place through space in the form of a marque and its range of applications. Keep a close eye on Vladimir and his work as it is representative of something new and something distinctly Russian. In today’s global world, Russia is a powerhouse of design, music, and luxury. Branding happens here. Russia is repositioning itself not just as a place and culture, but also in the world of design. Vladimir’s work provides beautiful evidence of this fact.

Kursk Applications
Kursk Applications
Kursk Progression
Kursk Progression
Kursk: Progression
Kursk: Progression

Another Body of Work for Kursk.

Kursk Case Two
Kursk Case Two

For the city of Samara.

Samara: Explanations
Samara: Explanations
Samara: Map
Samara: Map
Samara marque
Samara marque
Studies
Studies
Samara Brand
Samara Brand
Brand Pin
Brand Pin
Marque Variations
Marque Variations
Samara shirts
Samara shirts
Marque Application
Marque Application
Samara applications
Samara applications
Samara Application
Samara Application
Samara at Night
Samara at Night
Samara Buildings, Travel
Samara Buildings, Travel
Samara Theatre and Arts
Samara Theatre and Arts

Dubai: Space is Place

Dubai-Ski
Dubai-Ski – Polar Bear of the Desert

Dubai. Everyone knows its iconic buildings. Most have seen the transformations done to the physical topography. Many know the names of hotels there though they might not have been. Perhaps Dubai is itself the brand. The first city of its kind, born in an era of sophisticated branding and communication techniques the likes of which the world hadn’t yet seen. Taking the ideas Las Vegas has made popular in accounts like Thompson’s Fear and Loathing to a level that could make Buckminster Fuller and Salvador Dali blush together and hold hands–Dubai is perhaps the world’s only complete example of ‘place as brand.’ The region was created for a singular, commercial, and opulent purpose. The architecture speaks for itself in this Emirate of Dubai. The buildings are perhaps the only ‘brand’ the city will ever need. In today’s day and age, it might be more prudent to think forward in this fashion since the days of Rand’s 50-year logos are dead and gone. Though the bubble might have burst for now is Dubai, a brand? Or a place?

The Palm
The Palm
Dubai
Dubai
Koju Trading
The rich calligraphy of Koju Trading
Pharco
Pharco
Dubai Towers
Dubai Towers
Dubai Tourism
Dubai Tourism
Dubai World Central
Dubai World Central
The World
The World
Dubai Advertising Award
Dubai Advertising Award
Dubai Trade
Dubai Trade
Burj Al Arab Hotel
Burj Al Arab Hotel
Dubai Caledonian Society
A marque for the Scottish in Dubai
Avari_Dubai_Hotel
Avari_Dubai_Hotel
Dubai First
Dubai First
Marques as Motion
Marques as Motion
Dubai Airports
Dubai Airports
Dubai Calendar
Dubai Calendar
Icon Hotel
Icon Hotel

 

Aswaaq Supermarkets
Aswaaq Supermarkets
O-14 Commercial Tower
O-14 Commercial Tower
The Water Discus Hotel
The Water Discus Hotel
Masterplan
Masterplan