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The School of Architecture, KTH Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm, Sweden Studio 11, Spring 2018 Teachers + Editors: Claes Sörstedt & Malin Åberg-Wennerholm Students: Anton Lindström, Elina Åberg, Axel Burvall, Diana Güney, Vanda Kehr, Phoebe Wong, James Oakley



Pretty boring

Let’s see – boring... boring architecture. It sounds a bit dull. Or not. Is it actually something progressive, something new or valuable to be learnt from what is called boring architecture? First, let us agree on one thing: the experience of boredom is individual. It is never static, it is in constant change over time and place. What you thought was fun yesterday, is boring today and maybe interesting in 14 years time; who knows. The phenomena - boredom, boring, being bored, a bore et cetera - have a very real clinical side. The lack of of stimuli or repetition of tasks can cause diverse psychological malign effects. But as much else, a definition is also a word and the understanding of it shifts, a lot. Someone perceives boring as a state of depression while another understands the word as a quality of an exquisite commonplace. Not too long ago, the ordinary was, pretty ordinary. In a North European context it could mean that everyday spaces did not aspire to be spectacular. In fact quite a few spaces casually referred to as boring during the latter part of the 20th century, are civic projects and might be in materials such as concrete and include colours like grey. Today, in 2018, we are encountering different conditions. At the moment we are saturated in spectacular spaces but we have probably not reached the peak of spectacular architecture. In today’s society, the lipgloss is always applied; and there is always some kind of filter – glowing or glittering – added to the representation of stuff to create a kind of more instagrammable version of things. We can see it as a strategy to avoid the mundane; the beige and the grey, the plain and the dull. Soon, probably 5

already, we will encounter another category of boredom as an effect of oversaturation, a kind of blasé. The visual strategies of production of contemporary spaces are extensive – volume, colour, materiality et cetera – and all claim some kind of originality. The previous antidote to boredom is becoming quite boring itself. Does boring architecture look in certain way? The quick answer is no. A slightly longer answer is also no, but, in some periods and places and within different socio-economic groups, a kind of consensus is established on what constitutes a boring building. Our interest is in the kind of spaces that are not usually is not registered at all; you don’t despise them, they do not evoke any particular feeling and they don’t make you upset. Spaces that belong to nobody and everybody at the same time, these blind spots of the architectural gaze. We are investigating the unseen architecture closely and trying to find the criteria that makes it boring; is it the proportions, the colours, its context, the dirt or something completely different? While talking and researching this, we have become aware the importance of how the modes of representation work. Can you actually depict the qualities of something boring in a drawing, photographic representation or in a model? Truth be told, it is very hard to capture a complete atmosphere without adding fictive elements and creating something new out of abstraction and technique. We have made an honest attempt to investigate how a concept like boring works. We have tried to survey our own prejudices by articulating them through a series of studies, from the interior components of a boring room, collecting different boring typologies, pipetting boring colours, constructing boring proportions. But boring is a slippery word, when someone’s intention was to create a study of boring architecture, someone else immediate see qualities and opportunities; probably a good thing.


The boring room

A bedroom Ruddammen, Stockholm At first, the task of selecting a boring room seem simple. A toilet, a parking garage, a waiting room – all boring. But what is it with these rooms that is boring? Perhaps it is not the configuration of the space in itself that makes it boring, but rather preconceptions about the tasks and activities performed in them. Use the parking garage as the backdrop of a rave party, and the space is no longer boring. Searching for truly boring, I thus aim to look at a space separate from the activities it is programmed to host. The spotlight falls on a small bedroom in a residential building from 1989. Situated on the ground floor right by the entrance there is a one bedroom apartment, in this apartment we find a small room. After opening an 80 cm wide door you enter a minute rectangular bedroom; measuring only 2 by 3 meters, the room is easily surveyed. The walls and trimmings that were once white are now discolored from time and cigarette smoke, grey linoleum line the floor. To your left is the room’s only window and beside it the dusty water pipes are mounted against the wall. Since the room is placed on the ground level it is exposed the looks of passers-by and the blinds are always down, shielding the room from view. Look up into the dead centre of the ceiling and you will find the last detail of this room – an empty lamp socket. I deem this room truly boring since this is a space where there is a complete lack of tension and excitement. On my first encounter with this room I felt nothing. There is nothing in here craving attention, nothing to neither please nor provoke, nothing that is about to happen. It is just a room, usual yet unusual in that is so small that it becomes impossible to furnish in more than one way. Due to the configuration of the space you are only given one option on where to place your bed, and you basically can’t fit more than one complementary piece of furniture in there. You know exactly where to enter and exit the room since there is only one door. In the model I chose to depict the room without any furniture, but rather paid close attention to the basic features of the room, focusing on the constant elements in the configuration of this space. The predictability and lack of emotional stimulation are crucial aspects when defining this as a boring space. However, serving the purpose of a bedroom, this might not be completely undesirable features. This room, as boring and ordinary as it is, actually serve very well as a resting place. There is nothing in 8

this room that form a bridge to daytime activities, no desk to tempt you into setting up a workplace. It’s sole purpose is that of sleep. Serving the purpose of a bedroom, this boring architecture that tickle no emotion is actually a success - raising the question if boring is always boring or if it can actually be desirable. [EÅ]


A Kitchen Villa, Södertälje Things that do not inspire are boring. They are items that do not trigger any further thought, which most of the time are just there. Boring items can be likened to a decent pop song. The melody is catchy and nice, and the lyrics are simple enough for anyone to connect to instantly. Sometimes it even makes you genuinely happy or relaxed. But most of the time, in the end, nothing has really been gained for you, you don’t walk away from the song with a profound new way of looking at life. It’s the same old love story that thousands of artists before them have sung about and often even with similar text and tune (this repetition is an important part to both pleasantness and boredom). One significant thing to note here is that this isn’t always bad, it’s rather something quite positive in the right context. When you want to turn off, focus, or just to relax, your favorite decent pop song can be the most wonderful thing in the world. That being said, having a world of exclusively this pleasant boredom would be hell. The pleasant boredom is there for you when the engaging and interesting world has become overwhelming, and without this dynamic, the pleasantness would soon turn into agonizing staleness. This room is a perfect example of all this. It is the kitchen of Swedish interior decorator and blogger Nadja Helminen, and it is a perfect example of the last few years of white Pinterest “minimalism”. It is very pleasant, but also very boring. It is bright but not at all blinding. It is sleek and modern, but also with a touch of history (in this case the history is artificial though, the shabby chic floor was added in a renovation a few years ago). There is nothing personal in this room, nothing specific, nothing weird, it is like everything was added to please as many people as possible (which might be the case since the blogger, at the moment, has 11 000 followers on an Instagram account dedicated to basically five different interior angles of her villa). There really isn’t anything in this room that would one help to remember it, or at least to differentiate it between the hundreds of other rooms done in a similar vein. It is just nice, not really less than that, and definitely not much more. One could argue that the only “real” value that fills this space is the life of someone who has money to buy expensive furniture and time to clean it constantly (or to pay someone else to clean it). The Instagram 10

account is more of a lifestyle blog than interior inspiration. Anyone can imagine their life in the villa, how much better it would be there, and lust for the “zen” and extravagant habits of the blogger. [AL]


A Boring Bedroom Mount Waverley, Melbourne, Australia In an ordinary Saturday afternoon, I sat in a daze inside an old house in Melbourne. It was my cousin’s study room and has become my bedroom since I moved in. The tedious bedroom. Boring can be described as a kind of emotion or in another word, a kind of mental stress which is purely subjective without a single clear definition. It is not a conscious act and not a feeling that we are especially interested in observing generally, but a state where we find ourselves in the position of boredom. Therefore, the characteristics of boring emotions are especially difficult to identify and measure than other emotions like anger and sadness. Boring is a widespread phenomenon which cannot simply be understood as a unique behavior of individuals. It is not only an internal state of mind but also an external feature of the entire world. This room is a place I perceived as a boring room. A place gives me an experience of boredom constantly. Neither the bland and boring spatial arrangement nor the old-fashioned wallpaper the reasons of boredom inside the room. Instead, the feeling of boredom comes from emptiness arise from surrounded by objects and belongings which do not belong to me. It lacks fulfilment from daily life within the realm of mundane. Everything in the room is pre-occupied. The feeling of boredom can be alleviated or eliminated by changing the setting of the room. However, it is forbidden. The feeling of the level of irritation was so low as another dissatisfaction and suggested a sense of isolated disassociation. Under prolonged exposure in a boring environment, it causes chronic boredom and the next state is burnout. Inside this room, I feel emotionally drained, unmotivated and resentful. The inherent rules contribute a big part to the presence of boredom in my ‘bedroom’. All the pre-occupied furniture and beddings are deconstructed into white elements in the model. These are the elements that cannot be changed or replaced as to fulfill my personal needs. It does not mean these spaces are designed to be a white space but to emphasize the emptiness I felt inside this abstract white box. Micro white space has a direct impact on content legibility. In content, it exaggerates the colored elements which are my personal belongings.


Upon some room of the house, the bedroom is the most personal space. However, this bedroom addresses an issue of the identity and ownership of space. It makes people feel powerless, frustrated and under unseeable stress which is an unpleasant and long-lived state of boredom. When we have no authority or power to re-decorate a space which is claimed as their “own” space, we will find ourselves losing our sense of control of the space, and we stop struggling in creating a better liveable environment. I guess it’s time to let go of this boring room. [PW]


A Waiting Room Sweden I step into a waiting room in a government building. I do not need to think for myself to find my way here, “just follow the arrows until you get to waiting room B, sit down, you’ll be called upon when it’s your turn”. The waiting room is rather a niche in a long corridor than a well thought-out room. There were a few square meters left on the plan drawing where a necessary waiting room would fit. No one has put any attention or time to think through the room. The furniture are unmatched. It feels like they were randomly picked up from a warehouse with unwanted office furniture. I sit down in one of the chairs that stands along the wall. The chair is uncomfortable and has armrests in metal, which creates a distance to my neighbor and allows us to avoid all forms of interaction. In the waiting room you should not be too comfortable, this isn’t a place to chill for a while. In the middle of the room is a low coffee table, the height of which is not in the same level as the chairs. On the table there are some old magazine with worn covers. It’s a space that has been deprived of all forms of spontaneity, but at the same time it is characterized by a contradiction; the furniture and the room’s design feels like a sloppy accidental solution, but there are clear rules for everyone’s behavior in this space. There is a plan for you and your stay here. Do not talk on the phone, do not talk to the other visitors, if you need to talk, talk with a low voice, keep calm, avoid eye contact. The room is sparsely furnished but not empty. In a completely empty room, I can sit on the floor, no expectations are made. In the waiting room I have to follow the rules. I can be looked at by the other visitors, the staff, or maybe even a camera. It doesn’t take much to stand out or to be perceived as a freak. The ceiling height feels claustrophobic low and the windows are too small and placed too high up. In one window there is a white electrical candle holder, nobody has bothered to take it away even though Christmas celebrations ended two months ago. In the second window there is a dusty plastic flower. In the waiting room there is nothing to do but sit, at its height, scroll into an old phantom magazine. There is nothing I can change in this space, no chair I can move to sit more comfortably, no light switch I can turn on or off to make it more comfy. There is nothing special to look at. Nothing that can make me dream away for a while, nothing that generates curiosity. Nothing that 14

can give any, even though false, hopes or indications for my upcoming meeting. The colors on the walls, the floor and the furniture are in different shades of sunlit pastel. They are chosen to not stand out. The lighting is hard from the fluorescent lamps in the ceiling. The light is reflected in the shiny vinyl mat on the floor. There is a clock on the wall but it has stopped on a odd time. The time dissolves in the waiting room. Doesn´t matter if I have to wait for 10 minutes or 45 minutes, everything blends together and feels like a meaningless eternity. If I suffered from memory loss and suddenly woke up in this room, I wouldn’t be able to figure out where I was. The anonymous waiting room could be in any public authority building; health authorities, migration administration, the Swedish Health Agency. The room could be anywhere in the country. The room leaves no imprint, I am completely anonymous, the room will forget me as soon as I forget that I have been there. [VK]


A Locker Room Hornsgatan 150, Stockholm I’ve chosen the locker room at the gym where I work out, Fitness 24/7 in Hornstull. For those not familiar with Fitness 24/7, it can be described as the gym chain equivalent to Ryanair – cheap, uncomfortable and rather bleak. What struck me studying this room is the influence of contextual expectations on the perception of a space. Before looking at this room more closely, I had never perceived it as particularly boring. This doesn’t mean that I’ve perceived it as interesting either - in fact, I have not reflected on it whatsoever and have certainly not perceived it as architecture. For me, the room has just been there, fulfilling its duty – letting me undress and shower in a confined space with privacy from the outside. Nothing more, nothing less. In a context evoking more demands, such as a more expensive gym chain or a spa retreat, a room like this would have come across as either a joke or a provocation. But when entering a Fitness 24/7 facility, I do not expect any rooms to evoke any feelings in me whatsoever. In fact, I’m satisfied if they simply meet the minimum functional requirements for me to do my routine. The locker room has a rectangular shape and is rather narrow in width. Presumably, the shape was not consciously designed, rather it was the only space left over when all other functions of the gym had been satisfied. On the left side of the room, there are two facing rows of steel lockers. On the right side, there are two faucets and a mirror. Along the walls, benches are placed wherever there is room for them. The ceiling height is higher on the left side of the room than on the right side. The only noticeable “design feature” of the room, although coming from functional needs rather than of any desire, is the repetition of squares – floor tiles, wall tiles and acoustic ceiling tiles. The room and its furnishing are mostly gray and white. Except for the yellowish wood of the benches, the only color is to be found in the floor tiles - navy blue, a color picked from the graphical scheme of the gym company. Rooms very similar to this can be found all over the world, but the main difference is whether they are situated within public or private spaces. A bathroom with similarly dull design, purely functional materials and bad detailing would be understood differently if it was part of a private home. It would draw at least some kind of emotional meaning from the objects placed in it over time and its associated memories. 16

However, as this particular room is semi-public, any kinds of objects or traces of oneself left in it will be quickly removed in the daily cleaning and the room will therefore remain a neutral, transitional and boring space as long as it exists. And probably, no one will mind. [AB]


A Boring Bedroom

What is perceived as boring is different from one person to the other. The perception of boring can be recalled by personal experience and characteristics. Something perceived as boring is therefor something very personal. What I feel is boring comes from my inner circles and fears. The fear of having a monotonous life, the fear of not being able to be creative and ending up as most people around me, the fear of not being able to discover the world and of course the fear of getting stuck in the comfort zone. Some tactile elements can recall boredom to me. A room with perfect dimensions, perfect symmetry and just the optimal level of space and height is very scary and boring to me. A room with no “flaws” where it is just the right amount of everything, no unnecessary space or furniture is being used is life scaring and therefor boring to me. Repeating patterns, colourlessness, no contrast, is a reminder to me, a reminder of a 9–5 job where what I will be doing for the next 6 months is predetermined. just like the patterns on a wall of a room with grey or white tones. The same everyday monotonous life is just like the “no contrast” straight forward “perfect amount” room. I wanted to take this idea and test it on my visualisation of a boring bedroom. A bedroom is a space where in the end of the day, however your day has been, you will always come back to.Coming back to that same room and same bed. Somehow your Bedroom is your final destination. A grey wall, a desk looking to a wall, and a bed looking at a desk. The entrance door opening up to an empty wall with colourless boring grey tone making the first impression of the room “unexciting” The plan will be organised, no extra furniture and no excitement. There will be one wardrobe (400 × 600 mm), one bed (1900 × 900 mm), one desk (1200 × 750 mm). Distance between the walls and the furniture will be 900 and distance between furnitures will be 800. The no-contrast and colourlessness will mark the tidiness of the space once again saying how organised and how boring the room is. My inspiration came from the idea of “a perfect room” and what it meant to the people around me and to myself while growing up. A clean room with no clothes visible, no gadgets, no toys or any unnecessary items visible. The room was perfect when it was totally clean and tidy, almost naked. Everything “unnecessary” was to be hidden under the bed or at 18

some other room. This room reminds me of my childhood where I could play with my toys between the area of my bed and my desk. My books and pencils and everything that I used was to be on one corner of the desk. In the middle of the desk I had a computer that I could use anytime I wanted. I had a white carpet that covered the whole floor which always needed to be clean and clear from anything and white curtains that covered the little sunshine that wanted to come in from the smal window I had. My bedsheets were white and always on spot. I never had one day where my bed was not made. This is a presentation of a boring room to me. [DG]


An appartment bedroom 1A-1C Orinoco St, Pymble, Sydney, Australia The housing industry has an extensive history of stability and gradual growth, which has continued accelerating through the past few centuries, as populations have thrived and city centres have become more prominent. The last few decades have been no exception, with the world population having doubled since 1970; but housing prices have exploded upwards in this period, as space is a very much finite resource. As the affordability of housing has far outpaced the wage growth, the demand for fine quality building materials, craftsmanship and architectural design has increasingly been seen by developers and the housing market as superfluous, and shortcuts have become a financial necessity. As the house has been stripped down to its fundamental element; spaces, it has lost its sense of materiality and its fundamental purpose: something that can be called home. New housing has increasingly become a shell for another human to inhabit than a home for one to live in. Shells do not take long to design, plan and polish; their construction is cheap and quick, and their sale for great profit is guaranteed. Whilst these shells could be sold for greater profit, at cheaper development costs if more time was allocated into the design/ planning process, this is seldom the case. This may be largely due to the increasing disconnect between the inhabitant of the shell, and its developer, as immediate concerns continually shift from quality to profit. It may also be part of the modern capitalist psyche; more time spent is a shortcut not taken, and must therefore be inefficient. However, of late with so many shells approaching the buyer’s market of late, some shrewd and superficial tolerance of ‘design’ and ‘quality’ has been made by developers, in order to distinguish their shell from the broad market. Claiming to a ‘minimalist style’, scouring suppliers for cheap expensive-looking cladding, and most of all, making sure there is ‘just enough’ to sell off, are chief of these recent tactics. It is this ‘just enough’ attitude of raw commercial interest that consistently produces the most boring architecture of all; the shell meant to sell. Beyond its plasterboard cladding, the structural anatomy of this new breed of shells is exposed, and is often a mess of concrete, mechanical and hydraulic systems that were afforded neither the time nor money to be properly resolved. It superficial focus on appearance often also manages to veil its lack of 20

engaging materiality and design for just long enough to fool prospective buyers. And thus the cladding not only distracts from the fundamental inadequacy of the shell, it also belies much of it. [JO]


low-key unentertaining

watered down comfortable washed out


status quo




banal conform



average indifference







uninteresting dead



uninspiring imprecise

too long sameness






simple boredom

rough beige





risk averse








humdrum drab






empty anonymous




too long

colorless ennui



flat stale



unpleasant unexciting

conflict afraid


dry ambivalence







sluggish tasteless














meaning dowdy


boxy excessive


repetitive shoe box

cheap characterless modernism


uncongenial loss overbearing







Standardized perfunctory


suburban prefab soul-destroying

mass produced










depression sadness



blasĂŠ oppressive

modernity drudging


existential boredom apathy


guilt gloomy

Social emotion




An incomplete ABC of boring architecture

Blasé Unimpressed; indifferent; bored from overexposure. Etymologically, blasé most likely derives from French blaser (to cloy, sicken from surfeit), and came into the English language in the early 19th century, with usage peaking in the 1930’s. Blasé is an attitude which implies a level of class and status, unlike simple boredom, an emotion which indicates weariness and repulsion. Its more permanent nature places it closer to existential boredom, but its indifference distinguishes it from the depressed essence of the latter. Whilst blasé is an adjective on its own grounds, it is most commonly referenced by the ‘blasé attitude’ of city dwellers, an aspect discussed in humble blogs to academic articles. The most cited reference is Georg Simmel’s ‘The metropolis and mental life’, which discusses the ‘money economy’ and fast pace of city life. To Simmel, the city life of numerous stimuli, increasing importance of money and distancing from the production of goods induces the blasé attitude in individuals. It blinds them to value of anything other than money, draining them of care, concern and excitement, and leaving them constantly searching for meaning in life. They experience all things as being of an equally dull and grey hue. Those who discuss Simmel’s text largely agree with his stipulations, relating it to their own experience of city dwellers, particularly the lack the engagement when walking past people on streets and on public transport. The blasé attitude also notably manifests in the ‘bystander effect’, a social phenomenon particular to the city, which dictates that individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim when other people are present. This can be attributed to both the dilution of meaning in aiding a victim, and the lack of care for the victim. As a word, blasé is seldom used, and despite its association with the city and class, this holds true

for discourse involving architecture. In the context of architecture, blasé is most likely used to describe one’s reaction to the architecture of a city, suburb or area. However, given its allusions to the ‘money economy’, it may also find appropriacy in describing the architectural outlook of a city/area as driven purely by money. On the same note, it might also be suitable to describe individual instances of architecture that exemplify this drive for profits, and lack other architectural concerns. [JO] Box Cambridge english dictionary defines a box as a ”square or rectangular container with stiff sides and sometimes a lid”.1 Boxes come in various shapes, but share the common trait that they are usually a rational cuboid shape with four corners. The box is hollow inside in order for it to be able to hold anything you place inside it, typically the box is not related to its content other than through embellishing and prints on the outside of the box. Boxes can me made from a variety of materials, paper and cardboard being common ones. There is no size limit to when a box stops being a box and referred to as something else, although the word seems to be reserved for items of modest size. The word box commonly used as an analogy to describe lack of creativity. In the expression ”thinking outside the box” the word refer to limits, constraint and barriers of the mind. The current debate on architecture in Sweden borrows the word and use it as a derogatory term, describing building exteriors that are considered boring due to simplified cuboid volumes, flat roofs and lack of ornamentation. Taking the descriptions further, new buildings are being referred to as shoe boxes and giant cigarette boxes. Comparing the building to an unvaluable, disposable item enhance the feeling of boredom, since boxes are mere containers of the real value, they represent a hollow nothingness.


In his essay “Putting boredom in its place”, Peter Toohey describe predictability, monotony and confinement as the three key components of what makes something boring. The generic box answers very well to this definition. A single box represent confinement and and predictability, with confinement being its function and the volume being predictable. The way boxes are often used, for storing items, have accustomed us to see them in a monotone setting, capturing the third component of the definition. Imagine boxes on a shelf at the grocery store, storage boxes in a warehouse or moving boxes in the back of a truck. [EÅ] Depressing Boring architecture is often offhandedly described as depressing or causing depression, though looking thoroughly at the idea shows a more complex situation. While the correlation between living in a city and an increased risk of psychiatric disorders is fairly accepted (with one study claiming that city-dwellers are running an 39 % increased risk of mood disorders compared to those living in rural areas),2 the link to “boring architectural design” is less pronounced. Looking at studies specifically made to assess the mental impact of “boring architecture” (often described as architecture lacking detail or being bland), there seem to be a correlation to increased feelings of stress, and maybe even attention deficit hyperactivity disorders. 3 Another study investigating neglected environments showed that they can have a negative impact on mental health — “abandoned shops or houses can make us feel unsafe, with rundown environments found to contribute to anxiety and persistent low mood”,4 and while related to architecture and influenced by urban design, there is no connection made to if the design of the buildings plays a part in this. The idea of boring architecture being detrimental to mental health goes back to the 1950s at least, as Stephen Graham writes — “Since the widespread construction of mass social housing towers in Western cities between the 1950s and 1970s, the highly complex situations surrounding their successes and failures have often been reduced to simplistic clichés”. Depression and boredom plays into this with maybe the most prominent example being Jane Jacobs critique of US public housing projects at the time, calling them the “great plight of dullness”. And while it is true that forcibly removing or relocating populations into poorly designed urban areas are disastrous, a lot of 24

blame has been put on the architects/architecture itself, instead of critically investigating the complex socio-economic situation in which it happened. 5 For example, there is clear data indicating the mental (and even physical) effects of forced relocation, with ailments ranging from physical pain to increased stress and depression. Precarious living situations for elderly people increases the risk of dementia, and we know that evictions are strongly correlated to an increased suicide rate. 6 In conclusion, there are indications that architecture might cause depression, and it’s even more likely that it is connected to other mental effects such as stress. But the strongest correlations between built environment and an increased risk of psychiatric disorders seem to lie in urban politics not in urban design. Our living environment is not just structures — it is culture, economy, social life, politics, noise, crime and so much more — and there is probably no easy answer as to why we feel how we feel. [AL] Dreary Dreary is a distressful form of boredom. A dreary architecture can be depressingly dull, crushingly tedious and repetitive. An interpretation with intense sorrow arises from the dismal look of a building. The raw and grey concrete texture in Brutalist architecture is often used as the representation of dreary, drab and oppressive buildings. 7 In the Brutalist period, soulless crumbling concrete structures are exaggeratedly built. Modern Functionalism architecture are also found to be less exciting on the exterior design. Those unwelcoming and excruciatingly dull volumes and characteristics are something to escape from in the era of Postmodern Architecture. In a modern Capitalist society that seeks cost-effective design, monotonous and repetitive architecture typologies are commonly found in the urban planning scheme. The classification of architectural typologies also often influenced by objective factors, such as policies and development models, as well as the local culture which is the theories and ideas that were prevalent at a particular period. To fulfil those standard requirements and limitations, developers usually pick a successfully planned precinct as example and replicate them in a new area. This approach quickly leads to the creation of an unobtrusive and depressingly dull precinct that looks exactly the same to the other one. A tedious urban space usually starts with a largescale urban planning and similar development models. The undiversified relationship between the buildings and surrounding environment turns out

forming a characterless neighbourhood that lack variety. An urban mechanical layout and spatial arrangement created when a single developer builds a new precinct on a large area with monotype housing or building models. Together with the planning concepts that are prioritized by infrastructures such as subway station and bus terminals, it is harder to give renewed vitality to a community compared to a people-oriented planning scheme. The unvaried residential design and non-pedestrian-friendly streets are also the reason why people feel vapid and humdrum in the bustle of the metropolis. In small villages or towns, there are different interpretations of buildings of the same typologies according to different completion time and development by various developers. From the bottom to top, the vertical development model naturally is formed by the community. It creates a harmonious and vibrant social outlook in the community which is contrasting to today’s development model. The existence of dreary architecture is a bummer under a chronic form of unnecessary suffering under the modern city planning schemes which is more common in metropolitan areas. [PW] Grey Is the colour intermediate between black and white. It is also an adjective that describes something dull and nondescript, without interest or character. Moreover, recent surveys from Europe and the US suggest that grey is most commonly associated with neutrality, conformity, boredom, uncertainty, old age, indifference and modesty. Deriving from old English graeg (the colour now know as grey), its first recorded use in the English language was from 700 AD. As such, in its age it has garnered an array of connotations, from the weather, old age, ethics, art, fashion, the military, and to architecture. From antiquity to the Middle Ages, grey was worn by peasants and the poor as it was the colour of undyed wool, and its stigma of lacking class as much as colour naturally followed. During the Renaissance, grey began to play an important role in art, both as a favorable background and basic colour, and garnered some popularity in the European nobility fashion. In the 18th and 19th century, grey became highly fashionable, especially on silk and satin fabrics, and was marked by the appearance of the grey suit in the mid-19th century. With the grey suit as a prevalent symbol of business, seriousness and class, grey was now disassociated from its ties to low class. However, going into the 20th century, grey became

progressively associated with conformity, monotony and industrialization. This was largely due to grey becoming the common colour for military and factory worker clothing, as well as the increasing view of the grey suit as a metaphor of monotony and conformity. Moreover, the exponential rise of concrete in both architecture and infrastructure has naturally made a lasting impression on the perception of grey. With its contemporary allusions to neutrality, conformity and monotony in particular, it is no surprise that it is seldom used by political parties. Given the visual nature of both architecture and architectural media, grey in architectural discourse primarily speaks of exposed concrete, particularly if the building is monumental. In this context it is also used, albeit to a lesser extent, to talk of the colour itself. Despite its rich connotations to monotony, neutrality, and boredom, and the general disgust with concrete architecture still residing from the eras of modernism and brutalism, grey is seldom used to figuratively describe bland and unoriginal architecture. Moreover, in spite of its allusions to politics and the ‘grey area’ in ethics, it also has much untapped potential to be used to describe narrow and conforming approaches to architecture, such as ones that take no obvious political stance and oblige the status quo. [JO] History While it is easy to assume “boredom” (and “boring to some degree) exist today as they have always manifested, as timeless and innate feelings — it turns out that reality is a bit more complex. While concepts similar to “boredom” have existed for a long time (ennui appear in 1732, malaise in 1768, tedious in the 15th century and melancholy in the 14th century8 none of them can be accurately identified with the word “boredom”9 that appears in 1853. This aligns with the beginning of modernity and industrialization, and as (what we today call) “boredom” has begun to spread on an epidemic scale. While it earlier was merely seen in the upper classes, this feeling of mental entrapment now reached the lower working classes.10 In 1903, as modernization and industrialization continued, Georg Simmel wrote “The Metropolis and Mental Life” connecting the capitalist city and mindset to the phenomenon. He blames the excess of stimuli, and how capital hollows all meaning, for the “blasé” outlook in the city. Like Simmel’s stance during the 20th century, it is explained as a defence for oneself — “boredom stands in relation to disgust as annoyance does to anger.” as William Ian Miller puts it.11 In


post-WWII America “boredom” fused even more with capitalism and consumerism alongside of the rise of housewives. In 1963 Betty Friedman writes about her experience being a housewife how they are constantly told to fix this existential boredom and entrapment with consumption. She brings up the example of a magazine (for women) that in a promotional stunt invited women to write about why they feel trapped — the magazine received 24 000 replies,12 making it obvious that this was a widespread sentiment. Fast forwarding to the turn of the millennia — the influx of digital stimuli, a more widespread recognition of “boredom” and the advances in neurology, has brought more serious attempts at figuring out how boredom really affect us mentally, often in studies specifically related to architecture. As written in the viral article “The Psychological Cost of Boring Buildings” from The Cut, we seem to be affected negatively by “boring architecture”. The research points towards “boring architecture” generating stress and maybe even having a link to attention deficit hyperactivity disorders.13 Today most scholars see this increase of widespread “existential boredom” as something inherently modern. It is seen as a result of modernity, industrialization, secularization, capitalism and maybe even digitalization. It seems to be a general loss of meaning in a society which has shifted focus from collective to individual, from quality to quantifiable, from God to person. And as these problems persist, and potentially even increases, more efforts are made with deconstructing and presenting possible solutions to what may be one of the biggest epidemics of contemporary culture. [AL] Mass Produced During the French Revolution and the uprising factories and communism as the social doctrine, houses and buildings started expanding tremendously and the concept of practicality and minimalism. The same type of houses and buildings expanded throughout neighbourhoods and cities. Patterns that repeat themselves, elements that are repeated, as an outcome, we witness cities, neighbourhoods, societies and villages become identical. A means of fabricated and mass produced elements with items identical and fast phased creating different structures with the same materials. Overall a reduced level of detailing in architecture. All the building elements that are produced in a factory with practical solutions, eliminating ornaments and detailing. The outcome is box, shoe box, straight lines, plain, col26

ourless, monochromic, unexciting, all falling into the category of boring. Considering the house being a private place for an individual where identity and personality can be expressed in matters, the identically caused by mass production eliminates uniqueness and pushes the society to live in a uniformed way which causes decreased self expression and liability to countable designs that repeat themselves. When the same thing, be it an element, a clothing, a vehicle or any other thing the man uses produced in factories multiple times over a non-ending timeline causes a less detail oriented man. Decreased amount of knowledge in the workers as the machines already cover the knowledge necessary. There is no longer need to measure or master the details, mass production is a reduction of handmade craftsmanship and a world where the man operates the machine and the machine operates our lives. [DG] Meaningless In a modern world where the concepts of simplicity and minimalism are elevated, ornaments and excessive elements that aren’t needed in the main performance of the physical building, both structurally and architecturally, are seen as meaningless. The perception of meaningless in modern architecture changes from each individual designers perception of our society. The reduced sense of societal and cultural importance that is brought by modernism has projected itself onto the modern building, as an outcome modern buildings are very abstracted and in comparison to history, lacking of identity. Compared to the main concept of a design, structural elements that were not intentionally planned can eventuate for structural stability. The structural part of a building or a structure that does not complement the rest of the project can seem meaningless and unnecessary to the main idea/concept of the building but they are simply natural and essential for the structure of the building. Meaningless in architecture is a cruel concept, pursuing a form or an idea outside basic needs, outside of Generic functions is open to discussion of meaningless in architecture. Anything outside the minimal requirements for occupying a space can be seen as unnecessary and meaningless and Anything excessive, space and or structure that is not useable is Insignificant and aimless to its context. It falls into the category of something with no purpose; a superfluous element with no function to a building/structure.

Anything meaningless on a building can confound its clarity and concept which is thus seen as something negative Derivering meaning from art and design is an individual case study as there are feelings and sensations involved. In architecture it is not as artificial and therefore meaningless is more ostensible. [DG] Modernism Refers to an architectural style and a movement that emerged in the 1920s and dominated during the 20th century. It is characterized by simple geometries and bare materials, where the material rather than ornamentation articulate the building, creating a more honest architecture. The style had an epicentre in the Bauhaus school where early modernist Walter Gropius taught that ”form follows function” and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe explained that ”less is more”. Ornament was frowned upon as it did not serve a purpose for the building and was not necessary in order for it to function. In 1908 Adolf Loos went so fas ar to declare ornaments a crime.14 Strong social ambitions was an important feature of the modernist ideology – areas and buildings were designed to improve the living conditions of the large number of urban residents living in slum-like conditions and create utopias with access to sunlight, green space and public areas designed for optimized social interaction, where traffic and pedestrian movement was separated. The first multistorey modernist social housing project was Kensal House in London built in 1937, the project was a success and is still popular today. Many appreciated projects were built upon modernist ideals, however not all were successful. The Pruitt-Igoe project in St Louis faced trouble just a few years after completion. Many residents moved, the buildings deteriorated, communal areas were left unused and social problems rose. In 1972 the 33 towers were demolished, which by architectural theorist Charles Jencks is considered the day that modernism died.15 Modernist ideals of rational buildings are compatible with the use of industrialized methods of construction. In Sweden a program for building a million housing units, Miljonprogrammet, was in place 1965–1975. Projects above 1000 units were especially encouraged by the government, as it was economically favorable to build many similar units. Large scale, repetitive housing projects on produced on a tight budget have become a symbol of how modernism can look like. When modernism is used to snidely describe contemporary architecture it’s usually the aesthetic

similarities with some of the less successful million program housing units that are referred to. [EÅ] Predictable In another expression, able to be foreseen in advance and occurring the way as expected. Predictable is a more neutral word to describe boring architecture. In the psychology of architecture, people feel secure when they can predict what is likely to happen in the steady and comfortable progression of predictable circumstances. However, it can be unsurprising and unexciting as well which perceiving it as boring. In architecture, the term predictable is usually applied in a more negative aspect. In some ways, it is similar to regularity, but sometimes also described more harshly, as a pure essence of boredom.16 Predictable and boring are often bound together to describe a design that follows a rigid standard of a particular style. Under the trend of mass-production and the rise of prefabricated modular housing system, the design language is becoming deterministic by the pre-arranged models. When all the building facades look the same or very similar to each other, we can anticipate what is in front of us and what we are going to experience next. In a predictable pattern of experience, we stop being stimulated by our surroundings. By that time, it becomes unstimulating in the pervasive sense of predictability. The blunting of our sensitivity makes it harder for us to determine the differences in details and features of the buildings, it gets too conventional and formulaic for us. The pleasure in an experience like walking down a street declines as stimulation is the indispensable requisite to get us away from the feeling of boredom, according to William James, one of the founders of modern psychology.17 Architecture that is simple, too easily understood and transparent can also be described as predictable. Buildings with these characteristics are not necessary bad architecture. These buildings can be logical, pragmatic and practical. Nevertheless, lack of complexity and contradiction can be uninspiring and more likely to bore us. In the language of architecture, predictable is an expression that architects try to keep away from their design. [PW] Repetition Repetition, although often connected with modernism and industrial production, is certainly not a new phenomenon in architecture. Repetitive elements have long been used in architecture as well as in art to create harmony and unity or, when varied, rhythm and movement. Classical architecture


employs repetition to achieve order and symmetrical relationships, in the pursuit of well-balanced and harmonious compositions. Islamic architecture often uses repetitive patterns as ornaments, as opposed to the figurative images used in Christian architecture. The geometric patterns used to ornament mosques and other Islamic architecture are based on combinations of geometric forms such as squares, triangles and circles put next to each other, interlaced or overlapped in order to create intricate patterns. And Italian Renaissance architects, such as Filippo Brunelleschi, often designed their buildings with a unit of measurement, repeated throughout the building to create a harmonious whole. However, repetition took on a heightened importance during the advent of modernism - repetitive elements were described by progressive architects as key in the forming of a new, modern world. Or in the words of Le Corbusier: Repetition dominates everything.19 The main reason for repetition was to facilitate industrial production and prefabrication, thereby reducing the cost of design as well as construction. But repetition was sometimes hailed as a modern aesthetic in itself - the Soviet architect Moisei Ginzburg20 once compared modern architectural design to the pulsating rhythms of industrial machinery. The usage of repetitive elements on a larger scale, made possible by the improved industrial production during the latter half of the 20th century, have had an immense effect on the world. The increased usage of repetitive elements has been an essential part in the process of reducing cost and time of construction, but is often criticized for leading to aesthetical monotony – rows and rows of apartment blocks in the former USSR based on repetitions of a few concrete modules or suburbs in USA consisting of variations of the same catalogue house. The modernist paradigm of repetitive elements and industrial production are very much alive today, although recent years have seen some architects hailing parametric architecture and digital fabrication as a way forward to fuse individual designs with industrial production. [AB] Standardized Standardization is the process of developing and implementing standards. The concept of standards is extensive and encompasses both formal laws, informal recommendations or simply conventional usages and social norms. Standards can develop organically over time and/or be written by Standards organizations, governments, corporations, unions, trade associations etc. 28

Three main categories of standards can be distinguished: 1. De facto standards - Followed by convention or custom. 2. De jure standards - Legally binding - as part of contracts, laws or regulations. 3. Voluntary standards - Advisory documents published and available, but not required, use for everyone Standards have been around for long - the earliest known examples were developed in the Indus Valley Civilization (3300–1300 B.C) who used standard weights and measures for trade purposes. During the 18th and 19th century, standardization played an important role in the industrial revolution, a process which was highly dependent on interchangeable parts and high-precision machine tools. The 20th century saw the rise of both national and international standard bodies, such as ISO (International Organization for Standardization). Standardization in architecture is deeply intertwined with the advent of modernism and the industrial production of building parts. During the 20th century, standardization increased the pace of construction, since the usage of repeatable and interoperable parts facilitated prefabrication. Many standards used in architecture today can be considered a mix of de facto standards and de jure standards. An example is doors, where certain de jure standards stipulate minimum opening widths etc, but where the law permits a very broad range of sizes and proportions as long as they meet minimum standards. However, de facto standards, measurements and modules agreed upon within the industry, means that a few variants are used in the majority of cases, facilitating interoperability and industrial production.. Voluntary standards - documents collecting advice and recommendations rather than requirements have also been very important for architectural production during the 20th century. One of the most well-known examples is the seminal book Architect’s Data by Ernst Neufert, first published in 1936. Architect’s Data was created as an information base to assist architects in the initial design phase, providing recommendations for spatial requirements and measurements. Similar books and manuals have since been created in several countries - a Swedish example is Arkitektens Handbok, collecting general information and advice for architects. While standardization has been extremely instru-

mental for the architectural production in the 20th century, it has also been heavily criticized. The basis for certain normative standards have been put in question, and the wide usage of standards have been blamed for contributing to a uniform environment. [AB] Notes 1. 2. Peen et al, ‘The current status of urban-rural differences in psychiatric disorders’, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, Vol. 121, 2010 (accessed 18 April 2018) 3. Urist, ‘The Psychological Cost of Boring Buildings’, https://www. html, The Cut, 2016 (accessed 17 April 2018) 4. Reynolds, ‘Could bad buildings damage your mental health?’,, The Guardian, 2016 (accessed 18 April 2018) 5. Graham, ‘Vertical’, Verso (2016), pp.182–183 6. Pull, ‘När bostadspolitik blev vinstlogik’, Höra Hemma - Om det bostadspolitiska dilemmat, ArkDes Resumé, Vol. 2, 2017, pp. 86–88 7. Merriam Webster, ‘ennui’, ‘malaise’, ‘tedious’ and ‘melancholy’,, accessed 17 April 2018 8. Goodstein, ‘The Rhetoric of Boredom’, Experience without qualities: boredom and modernity, 2005, pp. 397-420 9. Toohey, ‘Putting boredom in its place’, Boredom: a lively history, 2011, pp. 8-47 10. Miller, ‘The Anatomy of Disgust’, 1998 11. Friedman, ‘The Feminine Mystique’, Boredom, Whitechapel Gallery & The MIT Press, 2017, pp. 126-128 12. Urist, ‘The Psychological Cost of Boring Buildings’, https://www. html, The Cut, 2016 (accessed 17 April 2018) 13. Darren Bradley. 2013. An Apology for Brutalism. [Accessed 5 April 2018]. 14. Quazi Mahtab Zaman, Igea Troiani, 2017. Transdisciplinary Urbanism and Culture: From Pedagogy to Praxis. 1st ed. Cham: Springer. 15. Collin Ellard. 2015. Streets with no game. essays/why-boring-streets-make-pedestrians-stressed-and-unhappy. [Accessed 4 April 2018]. 16. Le Corbusier ‘The City of Tomorrow and its Planning’, New York, Dover publications Inc, 1987 (Original work published in 1929) 17. Ginzburg, M, ‘Style and Epoch’, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1982, pp. 80-81 (Original work published in 1924)


Boring typologies

Garden shed Tallkrogen, Stockholm







Storage units for apartments Farsta, Stockholm



0 15 2


250 33

Garden shed Tallkrogen, Stockholm




0 160


Tool shed Tallkrogen, Stockholm



0 160


Storage shed for preschool Farsta, Stockholm


0 190




Pedestrian Tunnel Sรถdermalm, Stockholm





Pedestrian Tunnel Bjรถrkhagen, Stockholm





Pedestrian Tunnel Fruängen, Stockholm





Pedestrian Tunnel Kärrtorp, Stockholm





1½ Storey Villa Södertälje


1½ Storey villa Södertälje


1½ Storey villa Södertälje


1½ Storey villa Södertälje


Electrical substation Stockholm University, Stockholm

2,4 m

3,5 m

4,1 m

3,7 m


Electrical substation Stockholm University, Stockholm

2,4 m

3,5 m

5,8 m 4,5 m


Electrical substation Natural History Museum, Stockholm

2,4 m

2,8 m

5,0 m

2,4 m


Electrical substation Ă–stermalm, Stockholm

2,8 m

1,8 m

1,8 m

2,4 m 3,3 m


3,1 m

Electrical substation Ă–stermalm, Stockholm

1,8 m

1,8 m

2,5 m 1,8 m

2,5 m 1,8 m

3,1 m


Electrical substation Ă–stermalm, Stockholm

1,8 m

2,5 m m


2,5 m 1,8 m


Garage Tallkrogen, Stockholm

48 05 00




Garage Tallkrogen, Stockholm







Garage Tallkrogen, Stockholm

97 75





Garage Tallkrogen, Stockholm








Garage Tallkrogen, Stockholm

19 16 0




Friggebod Farsta, Stockholm


Friggebod Farsta, Stockholm


Friggebod Farsta, Stockholm


Friggebod Farsta, Stockholm


Friggebod Farsta, Stockholm


Bus stop Str채ngn채s station Str채ngn채s




Bus stop Polishuset Strängnäs

2,4 4,2 1,5


Bus stop Norr Länna Strängnäs





What do people think about when they speak about Boring Architecture?

A. Boring architecture in Swedish printed media 2010-2018 Elina Åberg

”I’m not an expert on architecture. But I have eyes. And sometimes they bleed more than usual, especially when the things I see makes the content of my eye cavities boil a bit more from the most provoking thing that can be mustered: boredom.” 1 Since 2010, 43 articles handling the topic of boring architecture have been published in Swedish printed newspapers2. The topic is discussed in editorial columns and articles about city regeneration, as well as in debate articles and letters to the editor. The most common person talking about boring architecture in printed media is a male who is not a professional in the field.3 What is boring architecture? In recent years several groups referring to themselves as a ”protest movement against boring architecture”4 have emerged. The group Arkitekturupproret mean that ”it is not a law of nature that we have to build as boring as we do. What was fresh and new in the 1930s isn’t anymore. […] Perhaps a building that is influenced by Renaissance building ideals is more modern than one inspired by the Stockholm 66

Exhibition in 1930” 5. On the opposing side are mainly representatives from the profession, arguing that ”In comparison to the challenges we face on the urban design scale the issue of facade style can be seen as marginal. For the single building the design of space and volume, the relation to its surroundings, and attention to detail are more important architectural decisions than whether the facade is decorated with columns or not.” 6 Not a single one of the articles give a definition of the term boring, rather it is assumed that there is a consensus around the meaning of the word. The term is used exclusively as a negative term, describing undesirable features in the built environment. In the analyzed material boring is commonly used alongside two or three other words. By clustering these words we can arrive at the conclusion that boring architecture has to do with six things: colour, material, building style, lack of ambition and building shape (see next page.)

WHAT IS BORING ARCHITECTURE? oinspirerad betongmonster enkla lösningar platta tak omålade betongstrukturer futtig ful betong, glas och stållådor rätblock påverförortskaraktär meningslös arkitektur miljonprogramsbebyggelse glaslåda brist på arkitektonisk kvalitet avskalad slentrianmässig grå betong kartong puts och betong modernism ensartad dussinarkitektur öststatsbyggnader betongklump enformig 60-talshus fyrkantiga lådor monoton oigenomtänkt lådbox fantasilöst kantig 60-talspastisch konform likartad prefablåda oambitiöst skolåda hårt för ögonen likriktad skokartong gigantiska cigarettpaket massproducerad

COLOUR gray colorless unpainted concrete gray 60s buildings gray concrete

MONOTONY unvaried humdrum monotone conform analogous unified mass produced

MATERIAL betongmonster omålade betongstrukturer betong, glas och stållådor glaslåda grå betong puts och betong betongklump

grått färglöst omålad betong grå 60-talshus grå betong

concrete monster unpainted concrete structures concrete, glass and steel boxes glas box gray concrete rendering and concrete chunk of concrete


ensartad enformig monoton konform likartad likriktad massproducerad

platta tak förortskaraktär miljonprogramsbebyggelse avskalad modernism öststatsbyggnader 60-talshus 60-talspastisch

flat roof suburban feel (derogatory) milion program housing stripped modernism eastern european buildings 60s buildings 60s pastische

LACK OF AMBITION SHAPE uninspired simple sollutions platry meager lacking architectural quality perfunctory very common architecture meaningless architecture hasty unimaginative unabitious hard on the eyes ugly

oinspirerad enkla lösningar futtig påver saknar arkitektonisk kvalitet slentrianmässig dussinarkitektur meningslös arkitektur oigenomtänkt fantasilöst oambitiöst hårt för ögonen ful

lådbox kantig skolåda prefablåda skokartong rätblock stållådor kartong fyrkantiga lådor gigantiska cigarettpaket

boxy box angular shoe box prefabricated box shoe box cuboid steel boxes box square boxes giant cigarette boxes


idea that is met with protest from the profession. In the words of Charlotta Holm Hildebrand: ”We are convinced that the issues of quality in our buildings and cities are not due to excessive architectural influence, but too little”10

professional, architect professional, others general public Who is talking about boring architecture?

Why is contemporary architecture boring? Even though there is disagreement, most concur more or less with the idea that a lot of boring architecture is being built. Often with a harsh tone, many articles seek to assign responsibility for the boring architecture to someone, and turn the spotlight to a profession other than one’s own. The theories of why contemporary architecture is boring can be grouped into four general categories: architects, authorities, public, developers. Architects Politician Oskar Weinmar argue: ”Architects are experts in their field.[…] But what you or I appreciate is neither the starting point nor the goal of their work. Architects design for other architects - not for ordinary people.” Architects make boring buildings because they follow box-loving norms within the profession, are obsessed with modernism and are afraid of being scorned by fellow architects. The latter is claimed to be a specifically swedish problem, since there is less variety of architectural styles here than in other countries.7 One thought is also that architects in Sweden are not skilled enough to make interesting buildings, which cause the construction companies to be unwilling to trust them and give them free reins with the design.8 Solutions to the problem with boring architecture could be to reduce the power of architects9, an 68

Authorities Current regulation is criticized for hampering the willingness to present exciting proposals: ”The Miljöbalken (environmental bar) is an unusually fuzzy law, and every proposal must be tried against it. The builder plays safe in order to get the proposals through – which often result in dull architecture.”11 The fact that municipalities sell land to the highest bidder is also blamed for causing boring buildings. Arne Olsson, CEO of Folkhem, means that it is a financial matter: ”they do not understand that you can’t pay extensively for the land and also build distinguished houses”12. While some say that municipalities don’t allow exciting buildings, there is also the view that too much boring architecture slips through. Regina Kevius, former politician, suggest more political involvement: ”We should discuss more how the buildings look and not just decide the building height and say yes or no to the building”13 Municipalities are also critizied for the fact that only 47% are actively working with Enprocentsregeln, which states that 1% of the building cost for federal/ municipal buildings should be directed towards artistic decoration. 14 Developers Architects are quick to single out developers as the ones responsible for boring architecture, the main reason being that they are too focused on profit. ”Much of today’s urban development is governed by rather scratchy financial incentives and by the urgent need to produce many homes in a short period of time. The results are often questionable and quality aspects are easily neglected in the process”15 Conservativeness in the industry is also an aspect – the developers are reluctant to change their way of doing things. The buildings should be efficient to construct and simple to maintain. 16 The increase of industrial methods is also seen as a cause of boring: ”it is sad to witness the industrialisation that is happening today in order to reduce production cost. It brings with it a rather boring architecture” 17

The people Some argue that the general public is too passive, not engaged enough in our surroundings, and not putting up enough fight against boring architecture. People do not dare to discuss what is boring, and are cowards who don’t dare to raise their voices and question authorities. A more provocative argument is that architecture is seen as boring because the public lack understanding of it, and therefore deem it boring.

Notes 1. Perlenberg, Csaba 2. Search made in swedish through the media search engine Retriever, searching for articles containing both the words arkitektur and tråkig/trist within 10 words of each other. 3. In the 43 articles, 48 different people expressed opinions about boring architecture. 8 women and 40 men. 6 of the 8 women were architects(5) or politicians(1) working with the built environment, and 2 were from the general public. Out of the 40 men 19 were working in

Is boring bad? The issue of why boring architecture is undesirable is mentioned outright in very few of the articles. Rendering the city unattractive18, unsafe19 and causing bad health20 are among the reasons given. One can assume that just as it is expected that the reader already knows what boring is, the reader also agree that boring is unwanted.

the field as architects (9), developers (7) and politicians (3), and 21 were from the general public. Some people are published more than once, but these numbers refers to the number of different individuals present in the debate. 4. proteströrelse mot tråkig arkitektur 5. Kjällbring, Fredrik 6. Hegardt, Christian 7. Olsson, Stefan.

Conclusion A number of insights can be drawn from the readings on boring architecure in Swedish print media. “Boring” in the debate is mainly an issue of aesthetics and beauty, how architecture looks, rather than a discussion of what boredom and boring environments does to us. There seem to be a consensus that we understand what boring means and that it is bad. From compiling words that are used associated to boring it can be seen that there are six main aspects of boring architecture: colour, material, building style, lack of ambition and building shape. Assigning responsibility for the boring environments is a big part of the discussion of boring, where architects, authorities, developers and to some degree the public can all be considered responsible for boring architecture.

8. Hindersson, Per. 9. Weinmar, Oskar 10. Holm Hildebrand, Charlotta 11. Ljungqvist, Mats 12. Lilja, Maria 13. Anrell, Olle 14. Wesvik, Alf 15. Hegardt, Christian 16. Welin, Hanna 101128 17. Sköld, Susanna 18. Andersson, Lars M 19. Weinmar, Oskar 20. ibid


References Anrell, Olle. Nya huset vid KTH får växthus på taket. Mitt i Östermalm. 2013-06-18. Andersson, Lars M. Bengtsson är vilse i tid och rum. Laholms tidning. 2013-08-03 Barth-Kron, Victor. Höga hus och taxipriser får känslorna att svalla. Dagens Nyheter. 2014-01-28 Bertzén, Nathalie. Solna kan förbättras. Vi i Solna. 2015-01-24 Cwejman, Adam. Arkitekturen behöver bli mer folklig. Göteborgs-Posten. 2017-12-01 Davidsson, Tobias,; Jörnmark, Jan; Anstoot, Take; Alfredsson, Emanuel; Gardebring, Anders; Svärd, Gustav. Svensken är Yimby! Samhällsbyggaren. 2016-02-18 Dicksson, Björn. Tomas Alsmarker river barriärer mellan arkitekter och byggare. Byggindustrin. 2013-05-10 Ekström, Patrik. Sundbybergs arkitektur sågas. Vi i Sundbyberg. 2015-02-28 Elisabeth i Örebro. Vikten av vackra hus. Nerikes Allehanda. 2017-08-30 Hallemar, Dan. Tema Stadsdrama. Arkitektur. 2013-08-23 Hegardt, Christian. Krass ekonomi styr dagens bostadsbyggande. Dagens samhälle. Hindersson, Per. Emmas utopia. Byggindustrin. 2011-10-14. Holm Hildebrand, Charlotta. Svenska folket inte fångna i arkitektens smakvälde. Dagens samhälle. 2017-10-20. Jennische, Andreas. Höga markpriser ger fulare hus. Tidningen Liljeholmen/Älvsjö. 2013-04-27 Jennische, Andreas. Trist arkitektur retar borgarråd. Mitt i Söderort. 2012-02-07 Josbrant, Jesper. Bättre dialog kan lyfta centrum. Norrbottenskuriren. 2012-02-04 Kjällbring, Fredrik. Det är ingen naturlag att bygga tråkigt. Smålandsposten. 2017-10-05 Kristensson, Tommy. Vart är Mölnlycke på väg? Härryda-Posten. 2014-11-12 Kronvall, Johny. Leve betongklossarna. Falkenbergs Posten. 2013-04-05 Lilja, Maria. Unik träskrapa ska stå för nytänkande. Mitt i Vasastan. 2013-06-11 Lind, Max. Rösta fram Solnas vackraste byggnad. Mitt i Solna. 2016-10-25 Ljungqvist, Mats. Bygg-uppror mot fyrkantiga lådor. Kungsbacka-Posten. 2016-09-03 Mikael i Väsby. Det finns alternativ till glaslådor. Vi i Väsby. 2013-07-20 Milles Beier, Karin. Husen inte byggda för en plats. Norrköpings tidningar. 2015-04-18 Music, Munira. Sökes: ideer som håller 100 år. GöteborgsPosten. 2011-06-08 Olsson, Stefan. Tråkig modern arkitektur. Norrköpings tidningar. 2015-04-11 Petterson, Anneli. Trist omgivning. Örnsköldsviks allehanda. 2010-11-20 Perlenberg, Csaba. Femtio nyanser av aptråkigt. Expressen. 2016-12-01 Siesjö, Björn. Vi måste göra allting samtidigt i Göteborg. Göteborgsposten. 2012-02-06 Sjöstedt, Svante. Tråkig modern arkitektur. Norrköpings tidningar. 2015-04-14 Sköld, Susanna. Så blir det när OSCAR får välja. Fastighetstidningen. 2017-03-06 Strinnholm, Simon. Planerar för framtiden. Värmlands folkblad. 2017-11-21 Sturestig, Åsa. Skönhetsrådet sågar hus med tolv våningar. Mitt i Bromma. 2011-04-19 Thör, Sverrir. Uppfriskande att se blandad arkitektur. Fastighetsnytt. 2013-10-25 Weinmar, Oskar. Arkitekter ritar för arkitekter. Dagens samhälle. 2017-10-08 Weinmar, Oskar. Arkitekter vet inte vad folk tycker är vackert. Dagens samhälle. 2017-10-25 Welin, Hanna. Vilken utmaning står dagens arkitekter inför? Sydsvenskan. 2011-01-09 Welin, Hanna. Är svensk arkitektur tråkig? Sydsvenskan. 2010-11-28 Westberg-Gren, Bo. Det gigantiska cigarettpaketet. Örnsköldsviks allehanda. 2011-04-05 Wesvik, Alf. Ingen konst göra riktig tavla genom snål utsmyckning. Vimmerby tidning. 2016-12-03 Wolters, Staffan. De ger ris och ros åt utseendet. Upsala Nya Tidning. 2016-11-19 Åfreds, Johanna. Rock’n’roll i branschen med 3D-utskrifter. Byggindustrin. 2017-03-29


B. Visual Social Media Axel Burvall

I have investigated how the subject of boring architecture is being represented in visual social media. The investigation is based on a set of 250 images from Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and Flickr. One can argue that it is a hard, if not futile, task to investigate the representation of boringness in architecture through the use of visual social media. Visual social media platforms such as Instagram and Tumblr are usually used to document the aspects of daily life one finds admirable, or at least interesting. For obvious reasons, they are more rarely used to depict things that does not evoke any emotions – the boring, the banal or the mundane. And it is true, to a certain extent, that the material available on the topic is rather scarce, at least the portion of it that has been tagged and therefore searchable. However, it’s still very clear that there are some patterns and features in how this subject is being represented.

Categories Almost all examples portray buildings from the 20th Century or later. The buildings or places portrayed does not necessarily belong to a certain category or function, although some categories are definitely more represented than others, such as: – Infrastructure: Bridges, Bus Stops – Utilitarian Architecture: Warehouses, Storage buildings – Office buildings – High-rise mass housing – Mundane two story buildings, rural or suburban.


















Features One can also easily discern some recurring and common features while scrolling through the feed of boringness. – Repetition Repetitive window patterns or areas with repetitive buildings. Of all patterns, this is probably the most evident. Often the repetitive features are enhanced by choosing perspectives or cropping the image in ways to make the repetition seems endless. – Large-scale The majority of examples represents multi-level buildings (five stories or higher) – Lack of colour With a few exceptions, the color scheme of the buildings portrayed goes in gray, beige, black and different shades of brown, – Exterior shots rather than interior The large majority of examples portray exteriors of buildings rather than interiors. The few interiors that I have found are almost all on pinterest, and always in the context of transformation.


What can be established from the available material is that there seems to be an unusually broad agreement amongst the public on this matter. The examples on visual social media platforms are all very similar to each other - especially when they are abstracted and distilled down to their main features. It is hard to identify any clear trends or cultural and local differences in what is considered boring architecture - on the contrary, the common denominator for all examples is their placelessness and lack of local peculiarities. This (unspoken) mutual agreement of what boring architecture is makes it a rather risk-free operation to declare a building as Boring - which is hardly the case for other declarations such as Ugly or Beautiful. There seems to be little or no need to argue why a particular building is boring, and the communication about this subject on visual social media is mostly short, snappy and one-way. Little is being said by the photographers about the architecture other than simply establishing its boringness, and the declarations and dismissals of buildings as boring goes largely unchallenged and unproblematized by the community. I have not been able to find a single commentator opposing the author’s description of a particular building as boring, and the only posts that goes beyond the simple statements are guides on how to transform something boring into something (supposedly) more interesting - either by renovation or art. This category of posts are most prevalent on Pinterest. I would have expected at least some occurrences of the, very cliché, situation where I, “the trained architect”, would find qualities and interesting aspects in what “the common man” considered as boring - photos of brutalist concrete structures, minimalist aesthetics and interesting usage of repetitive modules, for example. But in almost all cases, I agreed with the descriptions of particular buildings as genuinely boring - if only from an aesthetic point of view, judging from the angle of the particular photograph. It should be noted that most of the images are probably not even meant to evoke heated discussions most of them should rather be seen as a distanced, rational documentation of how boring and mundane the world often is. This also shows in the technique by which the architecture is being portrayed. The legacy of Bernd and Hilla Becher is evident - many images employ the technique of shooting straight on with vertical lines, showing only a single building with no particular context. And the lack of discussion and problematization of the subject is of course to some extent also a result of the medium investigat74

ed - other platforms such as Reddit and Facebook are more suitable for discussions and debates. But nonetheless, the homogeneity by which the subject is being portrayed does reveal something about the topic itself. To conclude, the subject of boring architecture is simply not as divisive as many other topics regarding aesthetics - it is hard, if not impossible, to imagine that the results would be as homogenous when researching other art forms such as painting or music - and in the end, maybe it makes perfect sense that the ways of depicting generic architecture is as homogenous, repetitive, placeless and globalized as the phenomenon itself.

References 1. Starzec, Pawel. Brno, CZ [online photograph]. brno-cz, (accessed 27 February 2018). 2. Flickr user: Steve Ellaway. Maesteg Bus Stop 2 [online photograph]., (accessed 27 February 2018). 3. Instagram user: kaspshak.[online photograph]., (accessed 27 February 2018). 4. Flickr user: Birger Falch-Pedersen. door imposible[online photograph]., (accessed 27 February 2018).

12. Flickr user: Master Miyagi. Living in a box [online photograph], (accessed 27 February 2018). 13. Instagram user: volinic_visuals.[online photograph]. BEmDxmKs5Cm/?taken-by=volinic_visuals, (accessed 27 February 2018). 14. Flickr user: slc3. Reifenbutze [online photograph]. (accessed 27 February 2018). 15. Instagram user: anastasia.ko.90 [online photograph]. (accessed 27 February 2018).

5. Flickr user: Johnny No 5. Fifty Shades [online photograph]., (accessed 27 February 2018). 6. Instagram user: lands_where.[online photograph]., (accessed 27 February 2018). 7. Instagram user: tjashworth.[online photograph]., (accessed 27 February 2018). 8. Instagram user: andrewtakeslotsofphotos. [online photograph]. https://www.instagram. com/p/BYnSlT5gttF/?taken-by=andrewtakeslotsofphotos, (accessed 27 February 2018). 9. Instagram user: wcdarling. [online photograph], (accessed 27 February 2018). 10. Instagram user: boring.architecture.[online photograph]. BPqwn-CgRw2/?taken-by=boring.architecture, (accessed 27 February 2018). 11. Instagram user: rsepsot.[online photograph]., (accessed 27 February 2018).


C. Boring architecture in global online forums 2011–2018 Anton Lindström

Objective, methods and definitions In the studio’s joint effort with attempting to map what people think about when they talk about boring architecture, the delimitation for this essay has been discussion centred online forums with a global range a and a generally anonymous user base. The two main websites in this sphere, and the ones I decided to explore mainly, is Reddit (with 83 billion page views per month and 234 million unique visitors in 2017) and 4Chan (with 0.7 billion page views per month and 27 million unique monthly visitors). b There is a bit to be said about the culture on these forums and their lingo to understand the context of the comments and their meaning. Reddit is divided into an ever expanding catalogue of sub-forums called “Subreddits”. Within these, registered users can post a “thread” containing an image, a hyperlink or a text. In these threads, users can then discuss the topic. On top of this is a voting system that allows each user to “upvote” or “downvote” threads and comments they approve or disapprove of. As for the culture, Reddit is diverse, but does mainly attract liberal young adults generally leaning towards a civilized centrist self proclaimed rationality. At the same time, some fringe subreddits do exist (heavily left-leaning, heavily 76

right-leaning, anarchist, etc.). 1 4Chan has a similar structure, but a more rigid format for sub-forums, called “Boards”. Within boards, users can post threads and comments. One big difference is that you don’t have to register an account, making it slightly more anonymous than Reddit. There is also no voting system — comments and threads are shown in chronological order. 4Chan is notorious for alternative fringe subcultures as there are almost no rules on what is allowed on some boards (though it is important to note that this is not the case for the entire forum). Most recently it has gathered attention as a incubator for “Anonymous” and the alt-right movement. The tone is also vastly different from Reddit with usage of derogatory terms being the norm and an overall hostile conversational climate. It should also be noted that there were very few comments relating to “boring architecture” on 4Chan. The study will delve deeper into this in the research and discussion segments. 2 The aim of this investigation is to get a general idea on how “boring” (and its related words like “dull” or “tedious”) is used and discussed in regards to architecture and the built environment. Within these forums, the only distinction between people/users included is

Reddit’s front page

4Chan’s front page


whether or not they claim to have a professional connection to architecture. The main method of finding the content was to simply compose a list of keywords that might be related to the objective c, and through Google, search d for material on the specific sites and then manually going through as much content as I could. Around 100 threads were read e, dating back to 2011, with an estimate of 600 comments within them. Research: Comments, threads and forums On Reddit, discussions on boring architecture is found on all different kinds of subreddits, e.g. political subreddits, regional subreddits (e.g. “portland” and “nyc”), expert subreddits (e.g. “ask social science” and “ask historians”) and of course an architecture subreddit. f There are generally three different kinds of threads that can be summed up to “Boring architecture is making us sick” (a thread with a link to an article or video), “Why is contemporary architecture so boring?” (posed as a question) and “help me make my room less boring” (this one only being featured in the “male living space” subreddit, but often). Though while all threads read for this analysis had the original focus on “boring” most comments tend to switch the discussion to “ugly”, suggesting that these negative emotions are lumped together in some way in regular conversation and making the sample size even smaller for discussion on actual “boring” architecture. The understanding of socio-economical and cultural structures that shape architecture is generally high within most kinds of subreddits. Very few fall back on blaming architects, even in subreddits less concerned with having civil conversations. One user in the subreddit “unpopular opinion” (users are encouraged to post unpopular opinions) posted a thread called “Modern architecture is soulless and causes cities all over the world to have the same boring look”. The thread didn’t gather much attention and one of the top rated comments within simply states in response that: “Modern architecture, like most creative works, have to squirm under reality. Costs, legislation, laws,yada yada. You can’t do anything cool or zany or whatever, it’ll piss off a lot if business-minded people.” 3 The same thread also features another common idea. “Wait... what is this doing in /r/unpopularopin-


ion ?? This is clearly something that EVERYONE agrees with. (Except the guys who own the land i guess)”. 4 The comment is interestingly enough downvoted to the bottom of the thread, suggesting that the opinion is not as popular as the commenter thinks. g Connected to the above point there is also a fair bit of discussion on how boring architecture is a symptom of, or in other ways connected to, a perceived faulty contemporary world — this connection is made mostly on political subreddits. There is also a theme of what could be called a “Reddit canon” with a few articles and videos appearing across subreddits. This is mainly the article “The Psychological Cost of Boring Buildings” From The Cut 5 (About recent neurological/psychological research and how architecture and modernity affects our mental state), and a James Howard Kunstler’s Ted talk called “How bad architecture wrecked cities” 6 (criticism of American car driven infrastructure, public space and how USA is filled with places not worth caring about). Below is also two personal accounts of boring architecture and its’ effect from laymen that rings surprisingly true with texts such as Elizabeth Goodstein’s “Experience without qualities: boredom and modernity” 7, speaking of “exhaustion” and “depression”. Both of the comments gathered a positive response from other users. The first one is in response to “The Psychological Cost of Boring Buildings”: “I could not agree more with this article. I have a desk job in the middle of a sea of grey cubicles and it’s exhausting. I’m never physically or mentally pushed, but it wears me out more than any other activity in life. When contrasted with my home, which I have decorated to my tastes, I rarely feel that kind of exhaustion. I may be taking care of my sobbing baby, cooking, cleaning, studying, reading, exercising, relaxing on the couch but I never get that dull sense of hopeless dread.” 8 And the second one from a thread in a subreddit called “ask social science”:

“As someone who lives in a planned modernist city (Canberra) what “Jane Jacobs” say does seem to ring true quite a bit here. Basically it feels like the city is soulless, bland

and lifeless. It’s common to hear that Canberra is a “Ghost town” and it’s pretty much true. People don’t walk anywhere, they drive and then park in underground car parks, then go into a shopping mall. While it’s busy and loud and bustling in the malls, step outside, even in the CBD at day time and you can hear a pin drop from a kilometer away. I can’t really describe in words well, but I guess the “feeling” I get from my own city is just “depression” when I’m walking around outside, in the parks, around the city I just feel depressed that i’m somewhere that is just so “bland” there’s barely even any colour as well, every building is just a bit white or grey block tower, there is no noise or life... it’s just dead. There’s nothing to do, there’s nothing to see, there’s nobody doing anything. Bleh! I get depressed just thinking about it.[...]” 9 Another observation is that few of these discussions centre around “style”, and when style is brought into the discussion, it is almost always in a positive manner. All styles from neoclassicism to modernism and brutalism are often praised as styles, and “bad” architecture is seldom pinned on the style but rather on external societal or economic factors. This holds true for all subreddits. Despite this there exists an aura where users seem to assume this position is not the norm, as exemplified by this upvoted comment chain from the subreddit “New Zealand”: “User A: Unpopular opinion, but I actually like a bit brutalist architecture.” “User B: big fan of it myself”

“I don’t have much time to give you a comprehensive answer now, but as a student of architectural history I can give some useful source books: William J. R. Curtis’ Modern Architecture since 1900 Kenneth Frampton’s Modern Architecture: A critical history Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture Leland M. Roth’s Understanding Architecture Peter Collins’ Changing ideals in Modern Architecture: 1750-1950 Adolf Loos’ Ornament and crime (The title is self-explanatory) I could give a very long and detailed answer, but a short (and necessarily oversimplified) summary would be: by the end of the 19th century most architects saw traditionalist architecture styles as tired and unable to keep with the new demands of an industrial society. In centuries past, ornament was valuable because it was expensive and it required the work of skillful artisans. In an era where industrial reproduction allowed the mass production of cheap ornament, it began go be seen as cheap, fake and unnecessary, and many architects began to search for aesthetics that were, so to speak, more honest (hence the famous slogans of Form follows function, Less is more, etc) Today’s architecture seems unornate because instead of resorting to ornate details, it extracts its aesthetical qualities from shape, space, materials, etcetera. There are beautiful modern buildings such as the Sydney Opera House, Ville Savoie, Mies Van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion, the Fallingwater house, etc.[...]” 11

“User C: You’re not the only one :)” “User D: It strikes me as sturdy and reliable. I don’t particularly like the look, but I don’t hate it either.” 10 There are also some serious replies from architects/ architecture historians and other users with proved authority on the subject. One self-claimed student of architectural history replies (what could be said is the general stance and canon of architects) on a thread asking “Why is modern architecture so plain compared to the past?”:

The same user also points out that unremarkable buildings of the past have had plenty of time to be demolished. Only the best examples are still standing, leading people to think architecture was better before. 12 The conversation of boring architecture also appears a lot in one specific place, “Male Living Space”. It is a subreddit, as the name suggest, directed towards helping men with interior decoration of their homes. Threads like “How to make my room less boring?” appear quite often, and always with the same advice (it is frequent to such a degree that it is a running joke within the subreddit, as seen in the bottom image to the right):


“are you an inmate? (jk) if you’re on a budget look for used stuff and opportunities. a big plant would be my top priority, then art, then rug -rug beside the bed -art above the bed -a plant between shelf and desk -some big! art or maybe a big 2piece on the right wall -eventually something curtain-y or get rid of the curtain rail if you can.” 13 There are also some disagreement happening visibly between architects and laymen in the dedicated architecture subreddit. There are comments here about architects imposing their taste on the public and a belief that architects are only signalling for the approval of other architects and showing of their skills. Below follows one of these exchanges, placed in the comment section of a thread regarding Frank Gehry’s comment that “98 percent of everything that is built and designed today is pure shit”. “User A (23 points): This, I believe, is why architects need to focus on education/outreach as well as design. Almost none of the architects I know actively work to get people outside of the profession excited about architecture. We need an architectural Neil deGrasse Tyson out there who can spark a flame of curiosity in people. User B (9 points): I am someone who is interested in architecture and a layperson. And my problem is that I find most every modern building so very boring and pedantic. “Oh look, another building with exposed concrete, stainless steel and plate glass. YAWN” You don’t need a spokesperson for architecture, you need to build things that speak for themselves. And no, that [isn’t] what you have been doing. You have been building the equivalent of senior design projects... you have been designing buildings for other architects, not for people. User C (1 point): yeah, what is your definition of interesting? i am interested to hear it as an opinion! 80

User B (0 points): In terms of relatively current / modern, I think the Gherkin takes the cake. Also, that triangular hotel in N Korea, and the cathedral in Brazil. I can’t agree more with the statement “There’s no sense of design, no respect for humanity or for anything else. They are damn buildings and that’s it.” about most modern buildings. The good / interesting buildings evoke emotion... and emotion not about the building itself. The Egg invokes a sense of humanity in an urban space. The big Korean thing invokes a sense of wonder in the way that the pyramids do. The brazilian cathedral invokes a sense of something bigger than yourself / spirituality. But none of that is about the building itself. Its what you feel when you look at the building, not what you feel about the building. Now compare to something like this. Yawn. User C (1 point): well there could be hot debate going on about the architecture you mentioned, but let’s move on from that. I am very interested in what you call interesting. for me, what Gehry stated is what he stated, he is utterly disappointed by modern architecture. I read in a book about drawing projections (maybe by Allen) that Gehry did his dancing house to be some kind of protest of the city’s government/politic. to make things short, he might be really troubled and sensitive about how we, architects, seem to be deaf/blind when he did all he could to show us his architecture and he definitely wants us to follow his good example. I truly understand about your definition of interesting. have you ever ‘feel’ any good architecture, though? the ones you’ve been visited and such? User B (1 point): Well, to be honest, I find most of Gehry’s more popular work boring.have you ever ‘feel’ any good architecture, though? the ones you’ve been visited and such? Yes. But they aren’t modern. Walk into St. Peters and tell me you don’t feel something. Or walk onto the Red Square and have St basils come into view. Or walk down the hallway of mirrors. Or walk under the brandenburg gate.” 14 Going forward into the study of 4Chan there showed to be little content. As a rule of thumb, 4Chan’s con-

Reddit user gaudeamos’ appartment, posted in r/malelivingspace

r/malelivingspace “starter pack” joke image by user GifACatBytheToe


tent is not archived and threads are sometimes active less than 5 minutes meaning that discussions can be impossible to find later on. There were a few threads and comments available though and at least one archived comment. As with Reddit, most threads seems to focus on “bad” or “ugly” architecture, where “bland” or “boring” is just thrown in with other negative adjectives. The opposing views expressed on Reddit reappear here but most of the time framed as insults towards other users, people or countries, in line with 4Chan’s general culture. 15 For example: “There’s literally nothing wrong with modernism when done right. What conservacucks like to do is cherrypick the failed examples because they’re deathly afraid of everything new. Almost as if it’s possible to make ugly buildings no matter the architectural style.” 16 The same goes for “boring architecture” getting bundled up with other perceived problems of a global society. In this case it is with the alt-right/conservatism but the same goes for left leaning circles when it is bundled up with big money, corruption and capitalism. It seems to often be treated as a symptom of other societal issues. “no but seriously the uk has some of the worst aesthetics in the world, some of the ugliest low qt women, just in general it is a horrendous country, even the wealthiest parts of london to me are just mehhhh” 17 And this comment on why, according to him, Helsinki is the worst city in Finland: “It’s really just the worst big city on Finland-scale. Has the most immigrants, least interesting, people there are especially retarded, boring architecture, infrastructure and layout unless you steer clear of the center and if you do that, why not just go to another city and enjoy every part of it.” 18 From the few threads found, generally users tends to focus less on a discussion of boring aesthetics or their negative impact, but rather on it as a sort of distancing from their own idea of a platonic architecture with comments obviously placed to joke, provoke, and be as dissenting as possible of as many as possible, other 4Chan users included. 82

Results, patterns and assumptions So what do people think about when they speak about boring architecture? There quite a few patterns here that can be seen. First of all is the generally high understanding of architecture from those who discuss it online. Judging from most laymen visible in the public debate on architecture one would ascribe a quite narrow view to the general public, a view that does not seem heavily represented in reality. A normal user seems to have a much more nuanced view on boring architecture, it’s cause and effect, and which kind of architecture would that is “boring”. Most are not making broad generalizations on style or architect. What might be the most interesting is that all the above hold true for almost every thread/sub-forum found — in everything from “New Zealand” to “Architecture”. People are trying to, and often succeeding with, approaching the subject in a informed way. And when a seriously written response appear, it is almost always recognized as informed and voted to the top by the other users, hinting at trust and agreement with claimed authority on the subject. That being said, the discussions (users responding to other users) are most of the time fairly haphazard, switching between “boring” and “ugly”, and more often than not, ending up discussing some imprecise and ill-defined “bad” architecture. This is an interesting (though not very surprising) point in itself, that what is generally discussed is precisely that — “Bad” architecture. The vague dislike or disgust for a building rarely justifies a more specific vocabulary, perhaps hinting at a strong connection between “the boring” and “the ugly”. Further, the “better” discussions that can be found seem to be driven by well articulated articles or questions, encouraging users to think more specifically and relate to their own experiences of the built environment. In these threads, a lot of tendencies/ moods/reactions mentioned in theory and academia appears as personal accounts, which could serve as further proof of those theories’ validity. It appears that the taste and insight of most people, given a civil context, is not that far of from the view of an architect.

Notes a. “Global range” is not really a sufficient description since my search

ty’, Press, Stanford, Calif., 2005, pp. 1–29, pp. 397–420 8. JGW-877-CASH-NOW, ‘The Psychological Cost of Boring Build-

is limited to English results only. This of course makes for an


over-representation of native English speakers and countries

the_psychological_cost_of_boring_buildings/, 2016 (accessed

where a majority speak English as a second language. This effectively eliminates 80% of the worlds population.

28 February 2018) 9. Kropotki, ‘“Soviet style” apartment architecture is often described

b. It is worth noting here that while the forums’ traffic are separated

as “soul crushing”, but does “ugly” architecture actually produce

by one order of magnitude, Reddit is gigantic even compared

negative social outcomes?’,

to the rest of the internet (ranking as the 6th largest website in


February 2018 by Alexa). Thus, 4Chan still manages to be the second largest forum concerning traffic with this specific format. c. Boring, Boredom, Drab, Drag, Drudging, Plebeian, Stereotyped, Arid, Characterless, Repetitious, Spiritless, Unexciting, Vapid, Dull, Humdrum, Lifeless, Monotonous, Mundane, Stale, Tame, Tedious, Uninteresting, Bland, Ennui, Malaise d. Google’s Private Personalized Search Results was turned off as to not affect the search results. e. Google returned around 100 000 search hits, but only a fraction of these were relevant (most others being about video games) f. Full list of subreddits that featured posts relating to boring architecture: “unpopularopinion”, “architecture”, “architectureporn”, “asksocialscience”, “the_donald”, “latestagecapitalism”, “circlebroke2”, “slatestarcodex”, “portland”, “nyc”, “askhistorians”, “nostupidquestions”, “europe”, “newzealand” and “malelivingspace”. g. It should be noted that sometimes voting is more based on subreddit specific culture and thus the downvoting might be for some other reason than disagreement with the sentiment of the comment.

ture_is_often/, 2015 (accessed 27 February 2018) 10. Several users, ‘Why are our public buildings so staggeringly dull?’, are_our_public_buildings_so_staggeringly_dull/, 2017 (accessed 28 February 2018) 11. Jewcunt, ‘Why is modern architecture so plain compared to the past?’,, 2013 (accessed 25 February 2018) 12. Jewcunt, ‘Why is modern architecture so plain compared to the past?’,, 2013 (accessed 25 February 2018) 13. mojomojito , ‘How to make my room less boring?’, https://www. make_my_room_less_boring/, 2015 (accessed 26 February 2018) 14. Several users, ‘Frank Gehry Claims Today’s Architecture is “Pure Shit”’,, 2014

Bibliography 1. Wikipedia, ‘Reddit’,, 2018 (accessed 28 February 2018) 2. Wikipedia, ‘4Chan’,, 2018 (accessed 28 February 2018) 3. NecroHexr, ‘Modern architecture is soulless and causes cities all over the world to have the same boring look ’, https://www., 2018 (accessed 28 February 2018) 4. MrAshh, ‘Modern architecture is soulless and causes cities all over the world to have the same boring look ’, https://www.

(accessed 26 February 2018) 15. L. Knuttila, ‘User unknown: 4chan, anonymity and contingency’,, ISSN 13960466, 2011 16. 4Chan, ‘Why does /int/ hate contemporary architecture so much?’, why-does-int-hate-contemporary-architecture-so, 2018 (accessed 5 March 2018) 17. 4Chan, ‘Why is architecture so ugly in the uk?’, http://, 2018 (accessed 5 March 2018) 18. 4Chan, ‘Finland (Robot) General’, thread/36923603, 2018 (accessed 5 March 2018)

chitecture_is_soulless_and_causes_cities/, 2018 (accessed 28 February 2018) 5. J. Urist, ‘The Psychological Cost of Boring Buildings’, https://www. html, The Cut, 2016 (accessed 28 February 2018) 6. J. Kunstler, ‘How bad architecture wrecked cities’, https://www., 2007 (accessed 28 February 2018) 7. E. Goodstein, ‘Experience without qualities: boredom and moderni-


D. Boring architecture in Moving Images Phoebe Wong

Introduction The discussions on boring architecture in the moving images media, like Youtube and Vimeo, exist on two polar levels, either focused on the academic perspective based on an architects’ opinions, or superficially touched on by the general public or travel vloggers. Boring architecture is not a mainstream or provoking topic for discussion. As a social media platform, these channels, like Youtube are likely built for entertainment or education purposes rather than using as a discussion forum despite having a comment session. Therefore, content related to boring architecture is less likely to be found on these platforms, and there are not many videos related to this particular topic that express the general perspective towards boring architecture. In a larger scale more broadly, more search results appear when the word “architecture” is replaced by “city.” However, these videos usually focus on the culture and vibes of the city as a whole but not the built environment. People also have contradictory opinions when they try to determine if a city is boring, which makes it hard to draw a conclusion based merely on their short comments. Thus, this research is more focused on the academic aspect and the gap in understanding 84

boredom architecture between architects and the public. The General Public “Vancouver is not ‘boring.’ Vancouver is broken. It’s full of potential, but it has been ruined by bad infrastructure, and poor financial, and population/ immigration planning. It is a dysfunctional city, a total mess with tall pretty glass buildings and pretty green trees as consolation.” - Turqoise “It’s indeed boring in comparison with big cities. The problem is that Vancouver is ‘advertised’ just as any other big city in the world, like NY, Paris, Mexico City, Madrid, etc. Vancouver isn’t that, and what you’ll find in Vancouver is natural resources, lakes, rivers, mountains, beaches, and that’s it…. Also, there are no public markets and everything that makes a city alive…” - Astroboy After gathering quotes and comments from videos posted by Youtubers, personal bloggers, it summaries a general perspective on boring architecture. Perth and Adelaide in Australia, also Vancouver in Canada, are the cities with the most popular debate on

their status as a boring city. These cities also being among world’s most liveable cities at the same time. Lush greens, wide open spaces are common similarities between these three cities. Wide open areas, bland landscapes, and monotonous concrete buildings, including gigantic infrastructure are the general properties of the so called ‘boring’ cities. It is hard to define more specific characteristics of boring buildings as most of the comments under the videos did not elaborate further. These broad comments are also mainly based on the exterior faces of the premises or the overall atmosphere of the built environment, but do not consider other qualities like interior design or functionality. The General public vs. Architects “If architecture is boring, you are saying that everything around us, including us, are boring and I don’t think we are. No doubt some of them are boring, no doubt some of them are ordinary, but I think it’s a bit of an overall generalisation that it is not supportable” by Gavin Kain from Woods Bagot Architect. “Everything comes back to the leadership again, allowing people push the envelope and instead of having thinkers in residence…There is leadership; there is something happening from a political level… It [Adelaide] is a city of lots of opportunities. Instead of looking at saying these Adelaide architectures exciting or innovative, well, it actually is because it responses in a very sophisticated and quite an elegant way to very strict series of guidelines.” by David Cooke from Hames Sharley Architects. “In last year, I kept hearing requests over and over from my clients they are really interested in flat design or the Metro looking feel. It becomes more popular now that everybody’s asking for it, the problem is sometimes these concepts can be boring.” - Megan Ezeadi “…Is that why capitalism of the last century has stressed pure utilitarian functionality as it is expressed in monochrome suburban developments, mega churches, strip malls, brutalist public structures and shopping malls, and internationalist glass box skylines which house the movers and shakers of the free market?” - Angloshevism Ingvaeona

From the four quotes extracted from videos, it suggests that the professionals, mainly architects, are lack of awareness or underestimate their responsibility and influences in the city skyline and streetscapes. Or, they try to avoid discussing boring architecture in a more in depth manner as a role of a professional architect as to keep away from controversial discussion. Therefore, they throw the questions to the general public, politicians, regulatory bodies, the clients or even the current trends in contemporary design, whom they believe are responsible in building a tedious environment. However, the public view this issue in an opposite way. A ‘oom temperature’ building raised by some architects is an idea of what they think it is close to a calm expression of faith in architecture itself. However, it can be perceived as tame and dull by the public. Silence and stillness can be exciting for architects, but not necessary for us who have been exposed to the metropolitan lifestyle. Architects, are the people gifted with an artistic and poetic mind, who may be able to stimulate more excitement from the surroundings. Architects are sometimes terrified of being judged, so they avoid using the word ‘boring’ as an expression which is commonly overused among the general public. Buildings are more than a place to live, but the energy brought from buildings itself also affect the whole city. The criticism of modern architecture that ‘glass boxes’ and ‘boxy’ buildings are boring is only based on the exterior faces. However, not putting functionality and interior design arrangements into proper consideration before they make such a compelling statement.General public thinks it is the architects’ responsibility as they are the one who designs the architecture as part of the social fabric that builds communities. In conclusion, the way of how people perceive a city or building as boring is more of a product of the culture. The people guide the trends in form creation and materiality in building design, but not only the professionals. The aesthetic standards of architecture change based on the design trend of the contemporary era. So, to create a more vibrant and sensational city, there has to be a gradual change in culture.


Notes 1. Daniel Carlter. (2017). Boring architecture? yes, please. 16 November 2017. Available from: watch?v=AOn_Y7ta62Y. Accessed: 5 April 2018].

2. TEDx Talks. (2016). Lasting beauty vs. fast money — the modern architectural dilemma | Marco Serra | TEDxBasel. 29 August 2016. Available from: Accessed: 4 April 2018.

3. Singapore Tourism Board. (2018). STB’s light-hearted response to an online survey calling Singapore “boring”. 2 February 2018. Available from: Accessed: 28 March 2018.

4. The School of Life. (2015). How to Make an Attractive City. 26 January 2015. Available from: watch?v=Hy4QjmKzF1c. Accessed: 28 March 2018.

5. statelibrarysa. (2013). Adelaide... it’s got that feeling (1982). 16 January 2013. Available from: watch?v=MZeMHoF6zoI. Accessed: 6 April 2018.

6. Infragistics. (2014). Simple Should Be Better, Not Boring: A Presentation on Design. [Online Video]. 20 May 2014. Available from: Accessed: 5 April 2018.

7. IFHT Films. (2015). No Fun City (Vancouver Music Video). 29 October 2015. Available from: watch?v=tMTkd8JtWdU. Accessed: 26 March 2018.

8. SAChapter. (2009). Adelaide architecture is boring?. 28 April 2009. Available from: Accessed: 4 April 2018.


E. Boring architecture in conducted interviews James Oakley

‘Boring’ is an adjective used to describe something dull that lacks interest, and whilst ‘boring architecture’ gives ‘boring’ specificity, it opens up an entirely new conversation. After questioning the isolated subject of ‘boring’, and then ‘boring architecture’, it became evident from the responses that there were four general groups of interviewees. Those are: millennials without an architectural background, millennials with, older generations without, and those with architectural expertise. As will be demonstrated, both age and the level of architectural expertise played a strong role in the responses, and that ‘boring’ and ‘boring architecture’ are very different subjects. The purpose of the interviews was to ascertain and review both the public and professional view of ‘boring architecture’, with more in the way of specificity rather than breadth. The interviews were primarily conducted at the old central station, and the KTH university grounds. The questions were generally open-ended, and eased the participant from just ‘boring’ to talking about it in relation to architecture. For those without an architectural background, explicit architectural language was avoided in favour of words carrying fewer stigmas, such as ‘building’ and ‘work environment’. Whilst this degrades the relevance of those responses, it was

critical in gaining more honest responses, let alone responses at all. Further, due to the nature of the research and underlying assumptions implied in some questions, e.g. “Is boredom a bad thing?”, some ‘response bias’ was likely invoked, which also harms the validity of this research. On the isolated subject of ‘boring’, there was a relatively polarised response between the responses of older generations and younger ones. Older generations generally viewed ‘boring’ in a traditionally negative light (70%), and reported low levels of boredom at work, and life in general (90%). Millennials saw ‘boring’ as more of a mixed bag (81%), citing its ability to offer contrast in life, and to a lesser degree as a relaxant. However, everyone agreed that (simple) boredom was an unpleasant emotion, and that regular exposure to boredom i.e. existential boredom, was very negative. Further, the social environment/ task consistently copped the majority of the blame for boredom, and there was universal consensus that boredom was highly subjective, particularly what constituted unfulfilling tasks and poor social company.


Boring' is largely nega ve Boring is subjec ve Boring architecture is subjec ve Less bored in well-designed spaces Boring' & 'poorly designed' architecture dis nct impacts boredom Desires to make changes Good design can never be boring

General public without



4 Millenials without

Millenials with

1 Architecture experts

Generalised interviewee responses

Interviewee deomgraphic

‘Boring architecture’ found limited universal consensus; well-designed buildings were consistently seen as attractive and capable of mitigating boredom. Additionally, ‘boring architecture’ was agreed across the board to be even more subjective than ‘boring’. Past this, ‘boring architecture’ found significant discrepancies of opinion, and concern, between those with and without an architectural background, whilst age ceased to be a factor. Those without an architectural background discussed ‘boring architecture’ primarily through their built work environment. They had vague opinions both as to what architecturally constituted a boring work environment, and of the relationship between their built work environment and their own boredom. ‘Boring’ and ‘poorly‐designed’/ ‘unattractive’ etc. architecture were seen as almost synonymous (100%), although it was generally expected that a well‐designed building could be found boring, especially if it was visited frequently (71%). The majority “wouldn’t change anything” about their built work environment, whilst a minority had a few vague ideas for positive changes, largely in the interior design realm (21%). A smaller minority yet held more scarce and nebulous ideas for changes combating boredom (14%), primarily concerned with views and increasingly social interaction. From their vague and predictable responses, it can be inferred that the general public are neither very opinionated nor concerned with ‘boring architecture’, although due to the nature of the questions it is no guarantee. Millennials with an architectural background dis-

cussed ‘boring architecture’ more openly and directly, and naturally had much stronger and nuanced opinions of ‘boring architecture. All asserted that architecture had a significant impact on its inhabitant’s boredom (100%), but some also noted the difficulty in identifying inherently boring architecture, from architecture that merely housed boring people and/or activities. Their interest in changes to the built work environment, to be less bored in it, was much more substantial (82%), and significantly more specific and architectural. There was belief that a well‐designed building couldn’t be ‘boring’ (69%), although this was accompanied by an understanding of ‘well‐designed’ as involving high architectural quality and detailing. Conversely, the minority that related ‘well‐designed’ to functional and pragmatic elements (31%) imagined that they could find a well‐designed building ‘boring’. Whilst there was a greater spread of opinion between students, their responses were consistently much more specific than the general public, and highlight a significant interest in ‘boring architecture’. The sole interviewee with architectural expertise shared broadly similar views with architecture students, but often with greater nuance and specificity, as demonstrated in the following comparisons. Architecture students argued that ‘boring architecture’ was distinct from ‘poor‐design’ etc. (92%), citing that architecture which took risks and effort to be unique was never boring, no matter how poor it performed functionally. However, the expert interviewees found ‘boringarchitecture’ to be compatible with ‘poor‐design’, but not of the typical outcome‐driven sense.


Rather it was because the “uncritical, unethical, [and] apolitical” intentions willingly or unwillingly complied with status quo. That ‘boring architecture’ had more to do with intention and situating a work, “rather than a certain style, aesthetic expression, author or function”. Whilst the same likely wouldn’t apply to ‘boring’, on ‘boring architecture’ it is generally expected that those with architectural expertise have curated much more nuanced and stronger opinions than architecture students. Moreover, that ‘boring architecture’ would see the general public and ‘architectural experts’ speaking two entirely different languages. In conclusion, whilst the isolated subject of ‘boring’ generated significant discrepancies between older and younger generations, the subject of ‘boring architecture’ is another matter entirely. Whilst ‘boring architecture’ was arguably less polarising than ‘boring’, it produced a greater level of contrast in strength and nuance of opinion. This suggests that architects think often of and form strong opinions on ‘boring architecture’ compared to ‘boring’, whilst the converse could be said of broader society.

References Brady Burroughs, KTH architecture tutor, 02/03/18 Police estate manager, old central station, 01/03/18 Health and safety manager, old central station, 01/03/18 Computer science student, old central station, 26/02/18 Supermarket night shift manager (student), old central station, 26/02/18 Police officer(s), old central station, 26/02/18 Norwegian high school student, old central station, 26/02/18 Professional basketballer, old central station, 25/02/18 Salesperson, old central station, 25/02/18 Red Cross salesperson, old central station, 23/02/18 Safety engineer, Tekniska Högskolan subway, 23/02/18 Physics student, KTH student lounge, 19/02/18 Economics student, KTH student lounge, 19/02/18 Freelancing Italian – English translator, KTH library café, 19/02/18 General practitioner Doctor, Tekniska Högskolan subway, 16/02/18 Community garden entrepreneur, KTH café, 16/02/18 Group of 4 architecture students, KTH kitchen, 15/02/18 Group of 4 architecture students, KTH kitchen, 15/02/18 Olga, KTH architecture student, 15/02/18 Rikke, KTH architecture student, 15/02/18 Antonia, KTH architecture student, 15/02/18 Kie, KTH architecture student, 15/02/18


A Visual Reader

Cookie cutter housing suburb, Markham, Canada Urban sprawl in it’s most extreme and boring form where the houses all look alike and there is nothing in the neighbourhood but residential buildings. [EÅ]

San Francisco Zoo, California, USA The tiger in its small, worn cage devoid of any stimulation is really an image capturing existential boredom. A crippling, depressing numbness that affects your entire existence. [EÅ]


Ica Maxi, Haninge, Sweden The building serve as a signpost and an extension of the brand. Large scale, monotone facade surrounded by parking lots, not made for humans but rather for cars. This could be anywhere in Sweden, or with different signs anywhere in the world. [EĂ…]

Shopping mall, Tokyo, Japan Created as a back drop for shopping and making us forget about time and place, inside the mall you are disconnected from the outside world. The architecture is generic and toned down in order to be able to accomodate any store and not interfere with its brand. [EĂ…]


Tower blocks, Hong Kong Monotone, extremely large scale residential buildings placed so closely together that they form a dense wall. Impersonal and overrationalized the buildings sparks thoughts about how it is to reside here. [EĂ…]

Waiting room at Mio MĂśbler, Bromma The giant furniture company completely left this space in their store to its own demises. Oversized floor tiles, heavy railing and too bright lights define this space. Placing a vase with oversized plastic flowers on a side table in no way helps the room gain any dignity. [EĂ…]


Residential building, Älvsjö A long bottom facade that is completely closed of in eye level with ventilation openings that are placed seemingly at random with a poor composition. [EÅ]

Underground culvert at Danderyd hospital, Danderyd An extremely rational underground culvert where only the bare minimum is done, nothing to orient oneself by. [EÅ]


Student housing, Sickla Worn down barrack-like buildings using generic materials. The lumber used for stairs and railing is very heavy, makes the buildings dark and adds to the dense, cheap look. [EÅ]

Central station, Stockholm Part of a large leftover space beside the station which has just “happened” as a result of how the roads and bridges are built. A boring non-space that is very easy not to notice at all. [EÅ]


Google Office, Shanghai The tediousness of this standard cubicle workplace is even more highlighted by the forced playfulness applied on top of it - sharp accent colors, balls and toys spread around the office. [AB]

Reception Desk, Singapore Visitors to this company, producing “Web based banking management software for the finance industry�, are welcomed by a black, white and brown color palette, cold materials and an ill-fitted lighting solution. [AB]


Residential building, Norra DjurgĂĽrdsstaden, Stockholm While the modularity and repetitiveness works rather well in the front facade of this building, the backside simply appears flat and generic and the external stairs and gallery feels attached onto the building rather than integrated into the overall design. [AB]

Residential building, Washington DC A large-scale building attempting to break down the scale and the repetitive aesthetics with extruding volumes and insets as well a shifts in materiality and color. However, all shifts and quirks are simply too small to be effective, yet too blatant to go unnoticed. [AB]


Residential building, Annedal, Sundbyberg This may seem like an unfinished or temporary building, and not only because of the signage in front. “Bare minimum” is the only recognizable concept: repetitive windows, no difference between the plinth and the upper floors, attached balconies seemingly randomly placed, and a total lack of texture, depth or materiality in the facade. A building so flat that it seems taken straight from the ArchiCAD window. [AB]

Office building, Hornstull, Stockholm A building that screams “facelift” - an older building with a new facade. The result can be read as a showcase of generic office architecture of two centuries - 50’s in the side facade and the 00’s in the front. The 50’s side is straightforward - plaster and repeated rows of windows. The 00’s is equally repetitive - horizontal bands of glass and perforated steel but sprinkled here and there with vertical panels of orange in an almost desperate attempt to break the monotony. [AB]


Retirement Home + Kindergarten, Tungelsta, Haninge Another example of different attempts to create variation within an otherwise flat, monotonous building composed of standard elements - an architecture which is definitely compatible with the profit maxmimization associated with the particular private company running the retirement home.

Residential building, Tungelsta, Haninge A rather unpleasant color cheme, cheap materials and an almost provocative placement of the garage doors towards the street makes this a truly mundane building. However, it’s almost refreshing that the building doesn’t try to be anything else than it is - it knows how trivial it is, and doesn’t care to hide it.


Residential building, Tungelsta, Haninge A very common sight in contemporary Swedish architecture. Large standardized units “split” into (seemingly) smaller units by changes in appearance, in an attempt to simulate variation. This effect can be done by changing the cladding, floors or - as in this case - simply changing the color.

Single-family house, Tungelsta, Haninge Maybe more accurately described as “mundane” rather than “boring”. However, this house goes largely unnoticed. mainly because of its closed facade and lack of interesting quirks and additions that similar houses usually achieve over time. In case it does provoke any feelings, its probably as a representation of a vernacular type rather than on its own particularity.


Beebe Skidmore- dark green Portland home This is a grey room with squared windows and white drapes looking out to neighboors. A wooden floor and a simple, plain bed with no excitement. [DG]

M.A.D.I. This is a prefabricated family house that can be placed in any desired location. The unfolding structure is made in 6 hours and ready to be in use. The interior of the house is plain and white. The house just as the outside is structured and well defined on the inside. No suprises, no contrasts, showcasing the simplicity of the construction itself and contains no excitement. It is the feeling of non-creativity but strictly engineering. [DG]


White Arkitekter: DrÜmlägenheten, Vallastaden One big unidentified room that is transformable into different functions. A lack of identity and a chaos of intepretations. An effort to reach a higly modernist lifestyle forcing the occupants to make the most out of one room. The concept of minimalism, eliminates the excitment of different rooms and their different functionalities. [DG]

CAPD, Tokushima, Japan This is a family house standing in front of the asphalt road the structure maintains the same grey tone. With a flat roof and black window sills the structure resembles a giant grey box. With a vertical wooden fence that seperates the house from the road, the first impressions becomes a non-inviting boring frame. [DG]


MUU Store Design Studio This is called the Gap house. Stuck in between two other buildings trying to come out and make use of what is avaliable. The vertical grey exterior, with two boxes on top of each other and a relatively flat roof with one Smal rectangular window on the upper box. [DG]

Residential Building, SÜdertälje Vertical shaped brick exterior building with balconies covered with corrugated steel looking over to a parking lot. The effort of trying to keep it practical and simple and cheap is reflected on the repeated windows and balconies. It is a dilemma, if this building is boring because it is ugly or ugly because it is boring.? [DG]


Residential building, SÜdertälje A big block building accomodating tens of families. Repeated windows with white plastic window sills and balconies of which some are glazed. Trying to create a colour contrast of brown beige and brown and white corrugated steel the building looks tired and worn off. [DG]

Public Staircase, Gamla Stan Grey stones that make up the steps and rails made of iron. Maybe some colour or grafitti with give live and enlighten the whole frame, but this way it gives away a feeling of hopelessness and fatigue. [DG]


Shopping mall, Södertälje Two vertical blocks on top of each other with vertical openings on the top floor and horizontal openings on the first floor. The white coloumns that help keep up the second floor stable reveals the laziness and incoherence of the whole building.There is no excitement. [DG]

1/2 Storey Villa, Södertälje The Swedish family house. It must be the sloped roof with half floor concept and the entrance itself that give away the desperation of stability and comfort. We worked “hard” and now we have the swedish house with one floor for our family to enjoy together and one half floor for bedrooms. It is the reputation these houses have that is boring. [DG]


Student Housing, Solna Built on an abandoned highway, it was meant to only stand for a few years, but the contract has been extended multiple times now. There is a dreary feeling in the entire area, with all “houses” being the same run down module and no greenery inside the area. There is also almost no trace of life outside apart from a few bicycles. [AL]

Shopping Mall, Bordeaux After a renovation in 2008 the mall took on the “faux luxe” almost all renovated and newly built malls in Europe has. The materials are white, shiny and probably plastic. Parts of it are striving for effect but you can literally see it falling apart at the seams between the walling modules. While it definitely is ugly, there is also a strong sense of boredom. You have seen it so many times before, you know the layout is a maze to maximize consumption. [AL]


Residential building, Stockholm This kitchen is from a newly built apartment house in central Stockholm. While it is not overwhelmingly boring, there is a lack of character and a sense of waste. It is a nice space with a lot of space, big windows and high ceiling. But then the actual kitchen parts are mismatched and surprisingly standard for an apartment that probably cost around 10 million kroner. It’s and o.k. kitchen and nothing more. [AL]

Residential building, Bordeaux The facade colours are dull, and the white window frames don’t compliment them very well. There is also something strange with the proportions as the windows seem too close to each other, and the roof is too far off in comparison. The doors on the bottom floor are hard to read — they are discreet enough to be for maintenance, but also visible enough to be some sort of entrance. You can’t read anything about the inside of the building and it is confusing. [AL]


Residential/Office buildings, Arninge It’s hard to gauge whether these buildings are prefab modules or built on site. They haven’t aged well and are placed horribly drab, there is a small road, then there is a row of buildings stretched out maybe 100 meters, then there is an incredibly plain stripe of grass with two trees, then another row of buildings, and then the road again, and so on. The layout isn’t particularly bad in theory, but translates horribly boring to reality. [AL]

Temple, Kyoto I have been here but didn’t take any photos myself. The building in itself is just a normal temple, the only real special feature is the gold plating — and who is really impressed by that? It completely neglects the material’s genuine qualities and uses, it becomes nothing more than a superfluous display of wealth. [AL]


Residential building, Älvsjö The space is fantastically normal, middle-ground, vague — only one thing is clear, the thing that lives here has their life together (on all fronts but mainly economically). There are no personal touches, nothing weird, nothing real. Even the sloppily placed blanket looks like it was put in that position, as if the thing living here is trying to fake that it is actually living. [AL]

Museum, Lund It is a very nice space, but there is something very drowsy about it. It’s outplayed, cliché at this point. And it seems rather lazy? Slap a few big windows on the space, and then work with proportions — let the engineers make it work. There is no real detailing, just as little as possible. It looks nice in photos and is probably decent to be in, but it is incredibly boring — what does it really bring to the table? [AL]


Infrastructure, Stockholm This winning concept for the rebuilding of Slussen lacks so many of the strengths of the original structure. The intricate and smart infrastructure is gone, and replaced with a shiny sculpture. It is just so flat — there is a bridge for cars, there is a huge glass mall, and there is a public space. There is hard to imagine what kind of interesting spaces will come from this proposal. It gives no indication of real life, just lowest common denominator levels. [AL]

Commuter train station, Älvsjö This new station, especially the platforms, lack all the character the old subway system have. Granted it has never been a subway but you would think they could learn something from such a successful system. The bright and shiny materiality clashes with the often crocked panels and what looks like sloppy construction and materials. [AL]


Kungsholmen, Stockholm, Sweden A monotonous, repetitive facade follows a standard symmetric alignment order and the dowdy yellow amplified the dullness of it. [PW]

PMQ, Hong Kong The former Hollywood Road Police Married Quarters revitalised for creative industries uses. The cell of the architecture is a rectangular box. The low-key design focused on the function as a dormitory which is unambitious. [PW]


Yilan City, Yilan Country, Taiwan This stale residential concrete block that perceives as a drab and grey building with a disorganised arrangement of the openings. The big pink advertisement poster dominates the reading of the block. [PW]

Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia An interior shot of a student commonplace in the institute. The minimal setting with only a few furniture in a spacious room makes it looks vacuous. The brown brick wall is a mismatch material to the carpet and black ceiling. [PW]


RMIT University Storey Hall, Melbourne, Australia A interior shot of the basement lecture room in Storey Hall. The dim and washed-out colour palette on the chairs and carpet together with the plain black and white walls create an oppressive atmosphere. [PW]

Trougnouf, (2018), IKEA Anderlecht self-serve warehouse The IKEA huge self-service area near the check-out in the warehouse is designed to be unified in all the stores worldwide according to the standardise warehouse storage design for easy logistic. [PW]


John W. Iwanski, (2010), The Wages of Sin. The leftover shelter of a desolate and untenanted patrol station is lifeless surround with a dreary mood. It is completely isolated and lifeless along with the closure of the shop. It is the simplest patrol station design with only a roof with four columns left [PW]

Gerry Dincher, (2012), Maxton Post Office. It is a suburban local post office in Canada the design purpose principle is function over design resembling a typical Modernistic approach with the use of standard column with a flat roof conveying a sense of dullness and boredom. [PW]


Cell Block An interior shot of the grotty Moundsville West Virginia Penitentiary. The identical setting of each cellblock, bars, barbed wire amplified the desperate sense of isolation. The steel bars are rusted and the paint is weared away over time which are unapproachable. [PW]

Barn A bleached timber rural barn with tiny openings in a crude countryside. It looks pale and picky from a distance. There are many similar barns can be found on the Internet and this is one of the barn with the mosot boring colour and least design. [PW]


University building, KTH Whilst the exposed brick and arch/column structure is pleasant and somewhat interesting, the monotonous and clichĂŠd window design, the lack of synergy of the materials and finishes chosen, and the unoriginal rectangular form of the building mark it as boring. [JO]

Hanover House, Sheffield, UK Hanover House lacks detailing, has a terrible and incoherent colour and material palette, with very limited formal difference between faces of the building. The entire scheme is very incohesive, it takes much more away from the community and environment than it appears to offer, and has no semblance of flair or care in its design. [JO]


Residential building, Solna Whilst I enjoy the blue timber in the faรงade, the rest of the facade lacks materiality and does not speak to the timber. The window design is incredibly monotonous, copied in all directions, but the formal design is perhaps most lacking; it is merely three connected flat boxes, and lacks any interest. [JO]

Hemofarm, Moscow Hemofarm Moscow is the interiors poster boy for commercial minimalism; no materials, no details and no flair of design. The building screams of much more of profit-driven design than anything else. [JO]


Residential building, Solna Whilst the subtle timber cladding adds some texture and materiality to the faรงade, it is fails miserably to save this sinking titanic. The formal design is frustratingly plain; the tacked on balconies look like an afterthought, which is more than can be said for the materiality. The window design is incredibly standard and lacks any variation or architectural sensibility at all. [JO]

Jardinette Appartments, Los Angeles Jardinette Appartments admittedly has a pleasant and relatively original colour scheme, but it nonetheless lacks materiality, detailing, and interesting formal design, including its bland windows. [JO]


Residential building, Solna Whilst there has been thought in the faรงade design, the protrusions appear to be mere ornaments, and thus not that genuine or intelligent. Once again the faรงade lacks any interesting formal design, window design and materiality. [JO]

Karunamoyee Metro Station, Salt Lake city Karunamoyee Metro Station has an interesting formal design, at least as far as civil engineering goes, but nonetheless miserably lacks material dialogue, and proper treatment of its concrete. [JO]


Residential building, Solna Whilst the metallic cladding is somewhat interesting, it completely lacks synergy with the other metallic and concrete materiality of the building. The general formal design is both bland, but the rooftop adds to this dullness, as it appears to be an afterthought attending to pragmatic matters. Moreover, the window design is close to as dry as it gets. [JO]

Paul & Bertha Grimm House, America Paul & Bertha Grimm House is clearly a home, but through its messy eclecticism of wallpapers, carpets, furniture, artworks, etc. and the dull presence of its own architecture, it lacks any desirable or remotely interesting character. [JO]


Boring colours



NCS 3010-Y50R RGB 189, 163, 144

NCS 2005-G60Y RGB 197, 196, 183

NCS 3020-G10Y RGB 140, 167, 143

NCS 3005-Y20R RGB182, 169, 152

NCS 1080-R RGB196, 2, 51

NCS 2050-B RGB 36, 149, 190

There is potential here, however the excess of stuff added seemingly at random, such as multiple signs, railings, striping on all the windows and seven airconditioners makes this a boring clutter. [EÅ]

Repetitive units in a student housing area where it is easy to get lost. The now sun bleached coloured window trimmings doesn’t really help. [EÅ]




NCS 0603-Y40R RGB 243, 234, 220

NCS 2040-Y10R RGB 213, 172, 92

NCS 2010-G70Y RGB195, 194, 166

NCS 5005-Y20R RGB 141, 130, 115

NCS 7020-Y70R RGB 92, 50, 36

NCS 2005-G90Y RGB 203, 198, 182

A building clad with corrugated steel. The material, the patchiness in the facade and dark window trimmings enhance the feeling that these buildings just happened. [EÅ]

Looking out of this building must be as boring as looking at it. A large anonymous monster that swallow both people and cars. [EÅ]




NCS 1050-R90B RGB 95, 169, 221

NCS 2060-G50Y RGB 147, 166, 54

NCS 9000-N RGB 26, 25, 26

NCS 6005-R80B RGB 100, 104, 111

NCS 0300-N RGB 246, 242, 238

NCS 5005-Y20R RGB 141, 130, 115

Clas Ohlson is mid range hardware store. The layout is messy, and the aura of consumerism lies heavy. White dominates the space, with the blue reserved for signs and the black filling arbitrary architectural details like pillars. [AL]

XXL is very similar in concept to Clas Ohlson, but for sporting goods. The main grey colour dominates the space with the green appearing sparsely on small signs showing discount deals or ambiguous categories. [AL]




NCS 4030-Y30R RGB 172, 123, 77

NCS 4020-Y50R RGB 171, 126, 102

NCS 1505-Y50R RGB 218, 204, 191

NCS 4500-N RGB 143, 142, 141

NCS 8502-B RGB 47, 50, 53

NCS 0903-Y27R RGB 233, 224, 210

This new hotel by the Central Station is in one way quite the spectacle. Windows misalign, dimensions change, volumes tilt, and a grand entrance is opened up — despite this, it is hard to find anything interesting at all here. [AL]

While the new commuter train station is not particularly bad, it isn’t particularly good either. It seem to borrow the aesthetic from a low-end airport and inherit it’s feeling from there as well. [AL]




S 1030-Y50R RGB 252, 182, 140

NCS 2040-Y60R RGB 218, 136, 101

NCS 0540-Y20R RGB 255, 207, 120

NCS 6020-Y70R RGB 122, 78, 64

NCS 2020-Y40R RGB 213, 170, 135

NCS 3010-Y30R RGB 187, 164, 139

The vibrant colour tone on the apartment facade is bleached and discoloured by strong sunlight. It is restrained and conform with the apartments in the same area. [PW]

The brown and reddish brickworks represent a layer of drowsiness. A sepia colour tone enhances the old-fashioned and ordinary look of the building. [PW]




NCS 4010-Y50RR RGB 169, 145, 129

NCS 0507-Y40R RGB 247, 229, 206

NCS 5020-Y70R RGB 148, 102, 91

NCS 1505-Y RGB 215, 209, 190

NCS 4010-Y90R RGB 160, 137, 131

NCS 0502-G32Y RGB 241, 242, 237

While the materials themselves look good, there is a messy appearance to this facade. The real achievement here comes from how it manages to fuse this messy look with the mind numbing dullness of contemporary office buildings. [AL]

From afar the buildings seem almost colourless, the bland tones melts away and create generic tower blocks. [EÃ…]




NCS S 3030-Y60R RGB 196, 132, 104

NCS S 3020-G80Y RGB 169, 162, 121

NCS S 0804 Y-30R RGB 237, 230, 211

NCS S 3500-N RGB 164, 162, 158

NCS S 0502-Y RGB 247, 240, 229

NCS S1002-Y RGB 225, 219, 207

The brick gives it some much needed materiality but its plain colour and lack of variation make the building’s best feature barely satisfying. The form, detailing and relation to site, and colour/ material synergy are as pathetic as they go. [JO]

The design’s best feature is its green paint; a nod to its proximity to a park, but has left little space for any other materials and colours. Moreover, the formal design is tired and the materiality and detailing are as void as the other. [JO]




NCS 0510-Y70R RGB 255, 222, 206

NCS 1040-Y40R RGB 244, 170, 111

NCS 1015-Y50R RGB 225, 195, 174

NCS 0550-Y30R RGB 255, 182, 98

NCS 2005-Y60R RGB 204, 190, 179

NCS 2010-Y20R RGB 206, 187, 158

A grotty shades of pink makes the facades look pale and tale. It is lacking the quality of calm aggression and looks dull instead. [PW]

This mustard yellow is commonly found in buildings in Stockholm. The slightly washed-out orange brings up some brightness and energy on this simple giant apartment block. [PW]




NCS S 4040-Y70R RGB 160, 100, 78

NCS S 3502-B RGB 155, 162, 164

NCS S 5005-Y20R RGB 146, 136, 124

NCS S 2002-Y RGB 197, 194, 188

NCS S 0510-Y40R RGB 242, 220, 193

NCS S 0804-Y50R RGB 227, 219, 208

Whilst the façade is somewhat novel for its modernist steel windows, it nonetheless lacks materiality, material/ colour palette synergy, it doesn’t relate to the site, and there is a huge material disconnect between the white and brick. [JO]

This mixed used building looks like a poster boy of commercial architecture; it certainly isn’t offensive, but just scrapes through with a tried and tested basic colour palette, no materiality, and a bland and rectangular form as forms go. [JO]




NCS S 5020-Y40R RGB 255, 255, 255

NCS 2002-Y50R RGB 201, 194, 187

NCS S 3005-Y50R RGB 255, 255, 255

NCS 2005-Y10R RGB 203, 195, 176

NCS S0502-Y50R RGB 255, 255, 255

NCS 6000-N RGB 115, 114, 113

Formally bored, with limited relation to site, and a dull material/ colour palette, perhaps its gravest offense is that it thought it could get away with that dark brown and monotonous brick, in light of everthing else. [JO]

Grey is a cold and humdrum colour. It feels isolated with the surrounding context and the monochrome colour shows a huge contrast to the greenery in the park next by. [PW]


Kiosk, Nykvarn

Wrestling Compound, Nykvarn

NCS S 0530-G70Y RGB 191, 242, 170

NCS S 0530-G70Y RGB 191, 242, 170

NCS RAL 2013

NCS S 1030-G80Y RGB 174, 230, 161

NCS S 1030-G80Y RGB 174, 230, 161

NCS S 0540-G80Y RGB 165, 242, 145

This is a little kiosk located at Nykvarn, Södertälje. The worn out blinds combined with the red corrugated sheets surely make this structure boring. [DG]

This is another building located in Nykvarn, Södertälje. The tired colors of the fasad gives us a hint of the sweaty inside. [DG]



Youth Club, Södertälje

NCS S 3005-R20B RGB 170, 177, 179

NCS S 2005-Y30R RGB 204, 197, 194

NCS S 4005-Y80R RGB 153, 151, 145

NCS S 0603-G80Y RGB 234, 240, 233

NCS S 3020-R40B RGB 143, 179, 157

NCS S 4020-G50Y RGB 138, 153, 122

This building is the workshop for the Audi store in Södertälje. The black roof on top of a grey fasad does remind us of a shoe box. [DG]

This building is located in Södertälje next to Astrazeneca. The bricks are sure exciting but lost within the tired white wood panels and the greenish color of the sills and door. [DG]




NCS 8005-B20G RGB 48, 57, 58

NCS 7502-R RGB 84, 76, 75

NCS1005-Y40R RGB 232, 219, 201

NCS 1000-N RGB 225, 223, 221

NCS 1019-Y25R RGB 233, 54, 59

NCS 4050-Y60R RGB 158, 77, 45

A clear tendency in Hammarby Sjöstad is the usage of white and different shades of gray for the facades, with sharply contrasting accent colors for particular details - in this case a red niche. [AB]

In this motel, brownish panels are used in an attempt to break up the scale and gloss over an otherwise monotonous apperance. [AB]




NCS 3502-B RGB 157, 161, 161

NCS 1502-Y RGB 212, 210, 199

NCS 1502-B RGB 203, 208, 208

NCS 5502-Y RGB 125, 121, 114

NCS 3060-Y30R RGB 190, 111, 27

NCS 5540-Y90R RGB 106, 34, 33

Sometimes, the color comes from a change in material. In this apartment building, the only thing deviating from the grayscale palette is the wood in the doors. [AB]

Hammarby Sjöstad shows a clear preference for colored glass and plexiglass - especially in entrances and balconies. [AB]



NCS 7000-N RGB 93, 92, 89

NCS 2002-R50B RGB 198, 195, 197

NCS 0530-Y40R RGB 255, 198, 144

This and similar shades of yellow is a classic in the color palette of Stockholm - the original castle was painted in a similar shade, as well as many functionalist housing areas. In Hammarby sjรถstad, it is mainly used as an accent color. [AB] 138

Boring proportions





A. Description: In this study, I’ve worked in a rather straightforward and systematic manner, making variations of an abstracted one-story house. The outcome is 10 versions of this typology with small shifts, either in the proportions or in the composition of the most basic elements - doors, windows and roof. The starting point was a small square box with equal sides and equally distributed and sized openings. The proportions of the box was then modified by stretching it one direction, creating rectangular boxes with ratios of 1:1.5, 1:3, and 1:1.723 – a number chosen quite randomly. Several basic roofs were tested - flat roofs, low pitch, high pitch and slightly slanted. The composition of the openings were shifted - regular and equally sized, randomly distributed and sized but equal in height above the floor, or random in size as well as distribution and height above the floor. For the two final versions, a small inset was made near the entrance and one more floor was added, thereby changing the proportions. 144

For the iterations in the series which I perceive as most boring, the most discernible common denominator seems to be the half measure. Formal maneuvers or compositions attempting to achieve something but stopping halfway is apparently a successful strategy in the struggle to achieve ultimate banality. Stretch a square in one direction until it’s no longer a square, but just not enough for it to be perceived as long. Create a non-symmetrical composition of windows, but make it just not enough chaotic too be perceived as interesting or even ugly. Pitch a roof until it’s no longer flat, but where the pitch is just not enough to really achieve anything. Or subtract a part of a volume which is big enough to break the linearity, but just not big enough to create a space of its own. A truly boring house might be created by following this simple strategy for all its constituent parts - just not enough. [AB]





B. Description: Prefabricated single family homes ordered from a catalogue are a common sight all over Sweden. While new versions are constantly hitting the market, some models have remained popular for decades. This task investigate a catalogue house type that have been around from the 60s and is still built today. These houses play it safe and evoke little feelings. No one loves them, but no one hates them either. Mundane and easy to overlook, these familiar buildings, with practical proportions that use standard construction parts and adhere to building codes, capture the essence of suburban boredom. Through modelmaking the proportions have been investigated using a series of different keywords and making an interpretation of the building through the filter of that particular word. The words and concepts applied are largely derived from the study of what is written about boring architecture in Swedish printed media. The investigations have been diverse and parallel, rather than a series of gradual changes, allowing for a multitude of approaches to be utilized.

Keeping the footprint and the principle of where doors and windows are placed, while playing with the volume, the pitch of the roof and placement of openings was a starting point. The concepts tried in various combinations are: excess with maximizing the number of windows and doors, uniformity, boxiness, applying original windows/doors to the proportions of a shoe box, a glass box, golden ratio, stumping the building, making it as clumsy as possible, symmetry, rationalized window types, smaller openings, different roof pitches and orientations, building height. [EĂ…]





C. Description: Rather than a largely technical and progressive approach, each of my models were intended as an isolated and thematic case study in their own right, exploring ideas and intentions that were likely to produce boring buildings. It may have been partially down to our medium of work, boxboard, but I was surprised to find almost half of my model set interesting. I suspect this because some of the models with very implied materiality had tangible realities, realities that would likely be much more boring than the model. However, I believe that boxboard and its material impartiality was a good thing in the end, as despite aforementioned models having closer ties to reality, these same ties arguably disconnect the model’s study (of the boring) from reality. The first model depicts a part of the original building from which much of this study is based off – an apartment either from Adelaide, Australia or New York, America. Building rather explicitly on the original, the second model explores whether exposed services, particularly an uncurated overabundance of such, are

boring. The third model was intended to describe a completely plain house, but by accident was more of a study into the relations between the cruel and the boring. The fourth explores a sort of mashup between ‘boring typologies’ – the shed, garage and substation, whilst retaining the scale of a house. The fifth model examines a basic design that was copied up all levels and across all facades. On the surface it primarily investigates the relationship between repetition and the boring, but is more concerned with capitalism than repetition. The sixth model embodies a semi-realistic form of chaos, imagining a building where problems arose during its design stage, construction and lifetime, but were dealt with band aids rather than proper resolutions. The seventh model explores an extreme grid and somewhat idealised form of minimalism. The final model explores uninspired and disjointed ornamentation / detailing, in a fashion that tries to mimic character, yet was likely pulled straight from a Pinterest board. [JO]






D. Description: I decided to use an already built house for this study — namely Kazuo Shinohara’s “House in Uehara”. I felt doubt towards the task’s thesis, that proportions might be inherently boring, and therefore decided to increasingly distort a building which heavily relies on it’s well measured volumetrics. Shouldn’t slight proportional shifts in a building like this then be able to push the façade expression from intriguing to boring? Or are the geometries too strong, overpowering any attempt to make the façade elements boring? Would rearranging and resizing be enough? With this in mind, I started to morph the building in small steps as to explore these proportions. Asymmetries were made into symmetries, variations were made into similarities and proportional quirks were removed. While the results were boring relative to the original house, it was still a long way from being a boring façade. I decided to break from the constraint of keeping the original elements and tried adding and removing certain elements, making the design even more “rational” on an intuitive level. I tried removing 158

categories of geometry entirely, as to get a house composed with the same idea as the original, only lacking circular shapes. Still, the main feature of these new variations leaned more towards ugliness than boredom. There is also a variant aimed towards evoking the feeling of the strict economic restraints most projects in Sweden act within. The façade is stripped of extravagant solutions, such as the free overhang – now constructed with pillars, custom elements are replaced with standard ones and purely aesthetical details are removed. While this study is far from conclusive I would argue that the result points towards my original thesis. Proportions are never boring by themselves, such as in a study like this when all materiality and detailing are removed — though it is still unclear how proportions play a part in perceived boredom in combination with other potentially boring aesthetics. [AL]





E. Description: What is boring architecture and what triggers feelings of boredom? There are some bullet points that is said to trigger boredom and boring architecture, those are the classical: monochromic, repeated patterns, plain, boxy, straight lines, concrete etc. But how does details detect boredom and affect a building’s outcome? Adding or subtracting from a fasade does bring different feelings and understanding to a building. What this project aims at is showing how window proportions, entrance doors, different dimensions, added patterns and subtraction can affect the perception of a building. The nine models are based on a single gray, box formed structure with different window proportions and placements. The aim is to try reveal/change the facade of the building by playing with openings and details related to openings. First off, the starting point comes from the mainstream entrance door with a window placed on the side welcoming people into taking a look at the inside while getting ready to enter the building. Taking this

classical / typical placement and changing it placement and proportion wise has brought a lot of understanding of how boring architecture is raised, maybe unconsciously in our everyday life. What feelings does it trigger when you can see inside a building? is it more boring or maybe frustrating having the openings placed just above the eye level? how does it feel having horizontal and/or vertical openings? Does it feel more empty and boring having one small opening placed in the middle of a fasade contra several bigger openings placed next to each other. Or is it more interesting, curiosity evoking having the fasade portrayed as an enclosed shell with no details giving away of what may be hiding inside? What is amazing is how small details can change an entire outlook of a building. How we use the power of openings and how we portray them can truly affect the whole outcome of the boring box that we cannot get enough of creating in today’s modern world. These models are for showing different aspects of that inescapable or maybe escapable boring building. [DG]





F. Description: The rule of proportion in architecture is a critical aspect of good architectural design. By twisting the proportions of components and openings, the ten models illustrates the study of the transformation of a carefully designed architecture into a ‘boring’ architecture. 4x4 House by Tadao Ando located in Kobe, Japan constructed in 2003 is selected as it is a grey rectangular exposed concrete contemporary housing block which has the qualities of boring architecture perceived by the general public in the earlier study. The house composes by a repetition of three 4m x 4m cubes. The top cube is shifted by a meter forward from the central vertical axis establishes hierarchy. This is one significant move to keep this house away from an ordinary design. After aligning the top cube to the base cubes, the house looks like a regular building block. The regulating horizontal lines across the facade that create a visual separation of each cube formed by the raw concrete have been wiped out in the abstract models. Small changes in proportions on windows become apparent after eliminating the fac-

tor of materiality. The repetition pattern and controlled holes formed by the raw concrete creates a particular rhythm to the composition of the facade. The building turns out to to be lacking characteristic after removing the texture and too typical. Before the iterations, I assume those typologies with compositional changes are the most boring ones among the ten models. However, typologies with apparent compositional changes are surprisingly more interesting than those only with variations on the openings. After alignment of the cubes, those windows are still following the grid system which can be easily defined. No matter the size of the windows gets bigger or smaller, or even repeating itself on all faces, and they still look similar because of the substantial visual impact of the shifted cube on the top. [PW]


Boring buildings


Electric substation, Södertälje Photogrammetric elevation, scale 1:20 [DG]


Storage building, Gnesta Photogrammetric elevation, scale 1:100 [AL]


Technical building, Enkรถping Photogrammetric elevation, scale 1:50 [JO]


Apartment house, Rimbo Photogrammetric elevation + collage [PW]


Technical building, Tungelsta Photogrammetric elevation, scale 1:50 [AB]


Restaurant, Bergshamra Photogrammetric elevation [EĂ…]


A few boring post cards

Gothenburg, Sweden. Frรถlunda Centrum.

Forsmark, Sweden. Nuclear power plant.


Rimbo, Sweden.

Jakobsberg, Sweden. The Hospital.


Stalon, Swden. Hydroelectic power plant.

Memphis, Tennessee, USA.


[Photo: William Eggleston]

Halland, Sweden.

Totebo, Sweden. Narrow-gauge railway line Hultfred-Västervik.


Copenhagen, Denmark. Skyline.

Stockholm, Sweden. Globe City.


Stockholm, Sweden. The Old Town.


Sweden, motorway.

Stockholm, Sweden. Stortorget, The Old Town.


Gothenburg, Sweden. Interior Frรถlund torg.

Stockholm, Sweden. Beckomberga Hospital.


Stockholm, Sweden. Views of Stockholm.


A boring reading list

— Balzer, William K., Smith, Patricia C., & Burnfield, Jennifer L. (n.d.). Boredom. In Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology, Three-Volume Set (pp. 289-294) — Bridge, Gary, Watson, Sophie (ed.) The Blackwell City Reader, Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002 — Dalle Pezze, Barbara & Salzani, Carlo (red.), Essays on boredom and modernity, Rodopi, Amsterdam, 2009 — Ellard, Colin, Places of the heart: the psychogeography of everyday life, New York, 2015 — Eklund, Petter, Elliords himlar: en vykortsresa genom folkhemmet, Max Ström, Stockholm 2004 — Goodstein, Elizabeth S., Experience without qualities: boredom and modernity, Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif., 2005 — Haladyn, Julian Jason, Boredom and art: passions of the will to boredom, Alresford, Hants, UK, 2015 — Hoffman, Eva, How to be bored, Picador, New York, 2017 [2016] — Klapp, Orrin E., Overload and boredom: essays on the quality of life in the information society, Greenwood Press, New York, 1986 — Laming, D. (2004) Boredom, in Understanding Human Motivation: What Makes People Tick?, Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK. — McDonough, Tom (red.), Boredom, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2017 — O’Neill, Bruce, The space of boredom: homelessness in the slowing global order, Durham, 2017 — Parr, Martin, Boring postcards, Phaidon, London, 1999 — Parr, Martin, Boring postcards USA, Phaidon, London, 2004 — Parr, Martin, Langweilige Postkarten: Boring Postcards Germany, Phaidon, London, 2001 — Phillips, Adam, On kissing, tickling and being bored: psychoanalytic essays on the unexamined life, Faber and Faber, London, 1993 — Priest, eldritch, Boring Formless Nonsense: Experimental Music and the Aesthetics of Failure, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013 — Russell, Bertrand, The conquest of happiness, The New American Library, New York, N.Y., 1951 — Spacks, Patricia Meyer, Boredom: the literary history of a state of mind, Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1995 — Svendsen, Lars Fr. H., A philosophy of boredom, Reaktion, London, 2005 — Toohey, Peter, Boredom: a lively history, Yale University Press, New Haven, [Conn.], 2011 — Wendell O’Brien; Boredom, Analysis, Volume 74, Issue 2, 1 April 2014, Pages 236–244 — Wikström, Jeppe, Tråkiga vykort, Max Ström, Stockholm, 2002


About this publication

This is a the result of 14 weeks in the spring of 2018, at the School of architecture, KTH, Stockholm. Teachers: Claes Sörstedt, Malin Åberg-Wennerholm Students: Axel Burvall Diana Güney Vanda Kehr Anton Lindström James Oakley Phoebe Wong Elina Åberg

[AB] [DG] [VK] [AL] [JO] [PW] [EÅ]

Critics: Catharina Gabrielsson, Christina Pech, Mikael Bergquist, Janek Ozmin, Fredrik Stenberg

This is MK 1, printed in 40 copies in August, Stockholm, 2018. 188

This is the work of Studio 11 UGLY and BORING at the School of Architecture, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, May 2018.

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