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This Turkish library is shaped like a shelf of giant books.

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January 29, 2021, 1:01pm

Here’s something wonderful: Karabuk University’s library, in Karabuk, Turkey, is designed to look like a row of large books on a shelf. It’s so cheerful—and there is a pleasure and clarity in something stating what it is.

Others have noticed the joy of buildings like this: architects Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour coined the term “duck architecture” in their 1972 book Learning from Las Vegas to describe structures whose designs reveal their functions. A hot dog stand shaped like a hot dog; a tea museum shaped like a teapot; a shop that sells ducks and duck eggs shaped like a duck, duck architecture’s namesake. Rather than a “decorated shed,” a building which draws attention to its function by affixing symbols to its front, like a sign that says “COFFEE HERE,” a “duck” is a symbol itself.

Venturi, Brown and Izenour personally liked decorated sheds more than ducks, though they declared both valid—but I’m ducks all the way. Let’s mainstream duck architecture—imagine how more joyful our lives would be! I want coffee shops to be shaped like cups with saucers. I want a movie theater that’s shaped like Godzilla. Shape pigpens like pigs. I want my apartment building to be shaped like a person typing on their computer, or a person eating noodles out of a bowl, or a person lying on the ground, or a stack of dollars. I want a hat store that looks like a gorgeous pink hat. I want a hat that looks like a brain. I want a brain that’s shaped like its thoughts, so right now it would be shaped like a library, shaped like books, on a huge shelf. Happy Friday.

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