10 Works of Art Masquerading as Architecture


After spotting Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread’s controversial concrete cast of the last Victorian townhouse standing in an East London community scarred by demolition, we couldn’t help but wonder what other fake statement architecture might exist in the world. From Elmgreen & Dragset’s famous faux Prada store on a desolate highway in West Texas to Callum Morton’s giant folly of a 10-story hotel intended to pique interest along an otherwise drab stretch of freeway in Australia, click through to check out buildings that give new meaning to the term art house. Then, tell us know about your favorite intentionally fake design for the sake of art in the comments below!

House by Rachel Whiteread — London, England

Image credit: Artangel; artdesigncafe

Tackling the controversial subjects of displacement and demolition, Whiteread’s intervention exposed the interior of this Victorian townhouse, the last of its kind on the block, casting it in concrete for all eternity as a devastating reminder memorializing our all-too-common tendency to destroy and rebuild.

The Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial by Rachel Whiteread — Vienna, Austria

Image credit: The Red List; sub rosa

This “nameless library” cannot be entered. The exterior walls are shelves of closed books, the spines facing in, speaking to the untold stories of the 65,000 Austrian Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Prada Marfa by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset — Valentine, Texas

Image credit: Marshall Astor; ydhsu

A pristine Prada store complete with a window display housing real Prada shoes and handbags will never be maintained. The artists explain that “if someone spray-paints graffiti or a cowboy decides to use it as target practice or maybe a mouse or a muskrat makes a home in it, 50 years from now it will be a ruin that is a reflection of the time it was made.”

Hotel by Callum Morton — Bangholme, Australia

Image credit: CITYSPK; Callum Morton via umbrellabeast

Having studied architecture only to move on to the visual arts, Morton’s oeuvre is made up mostly of intriguing faux buildings. Part of a local public arts initiative to add interest to a boring stretch of freeway outside of Melbourne, he was commissioned to create this odd white hotel for a landscape void of anything for miles. Even though there’s no actual inhabitable interior, the solar-powered windows light up at night.

Valhalla by Callum Morton — Venice, Italy

Image credit: roslyn oxley9 gallery

In a world full of devastating abandoned buildings, all it takes is one fake one to get folks to pay attention. Ah, the irony.

M-House by Michael Jantzen — Gardena, California

Image credit: Archinect

This art project was originally built outside of California. Rumor has it that Brad Pitt was going to buy it for a plot of land he had his eye on in Santa Barbara, but when the Coastal Commission wouldn’t approve the project, Jantzen sent it off to Philips de Pury in New York to sell the beast of a building/sculpture. A Korean art collector bought it, but then didn’t have enough money to pay to ship it to Seoul, so it’s currently sitting in boxes in a warehouse in Gardena.

Title Deed Monopoly House by An Te Liu — Toronto, Canada

Image credit: A. Sulikowska via CANADIANART

One of 18 installations for Toronto’s “Leona Drive Project,” this door-free, windowless house is a life-size version of a Monopoly piece.

The Ivy Space by Han Sungpil — Seoul, Korea

Image credit: Han Sungpil via D E C E P T O L O G Y

Han Sungpil’s meta photography building-size installations play with the mind thanks to his unique mash-up of trompe-l’oeil imagery, conceptual art, super-large-scale digital printing, and architecture.

German Barn by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset — Singapore

Image credit: designboom

Referencing the the black-and-white striped Mock Tudor architecture of colonial villas that are popular in Singapore, the German Barn is as much a comment on out-of-place vernacular architecture as it is globalization. To really sell their statement, the artists went so far as to hire local actors to play farmers clad in South German folk attire. There’s even a goat.

Museum of Nature by Ilkka Halso

Image credit: Arts on Earth

More architecture in progress than a solid, finished building, this beautiful, conceptual metaphor is one art house we’d love see built.