A lot can happen in ten years. Exactly a decade after the introduction of the first iPhone, the wonderful world of emoji has translated from the digital screen to the physical sphere of architecture. Integrated as ornaments in a new building in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, the 22 most-used emojis are immortalized as the quintessential sign of our times.
Though the building finished construction two years ago and people have been living in it for a year, the concrete emojis were installed recently and official photos have now been released. And the reactions have been mixed, to say the least. Postmodernist architecture has always been the topic of debate, resulting in many love-it-or-hate-it situations. This seems to be the case with emojitecture as well. One calls it “one of the most 21st century things you’ll ever see.” Others a grotesque caricature.
Architect Attika explains how creating something likable was never the intention. In classical architecture people used heads of a royal or holy figure. In this case, the architects were looking for something that would perfectly illustrate the current times. Hence, the emoji. Nevertheless, seeing the building in the context of its surroundings makes it more subtle than you would expect. The similar looking next-door buildings have the same lay-out and circular ornaments, but without the smiling faces. Adding them to this particular eye-catching structure was meant as a happier way of making an ordinary building less boring.
The building is situated in the Vathorst suburb of Amersfoort, a 750-year old town located 30 minutes from Amsterdam. The town has seen explosive population growth in the last few decades, as massive suburban neighborhoods were realized. These so-called VINEX-locations enjoy a rather negative image in the Netherlands and are known for being boring, monotonous and uninteresting. Over the years, architects and planners have tried the craziest things in order to add some identity to these places. The emojis are the last chapter of these efforts. What do you think? 👍 or 👎?