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A Few Words About Scary Architecture

Written by: Milos Ilić original text is HERE.

Translated by Anastasija Zdravković

Modern architecture gives priority to minimalism and functionalism; and because of the simpler, cheaper and faster construction, ornaments rich in symbolism (which marked the traditional architecture) are disappearing. The value is in reinforced concrete, glass, metal and similar materials.

In history, symbols played an important role in directing the mass and culture. Similar thing happens today, although now the symbols of power are represented by corporation houses (department stores, digital houses, etc.) and political parties.

Scary architecture is scary just because of its own symbolism, depending on how it is interpreted by an individual or collective. The time in which the signing influence of such architecture is assumed is also significant. We believe that in certain unstable historical periods, the architecture of totalitarian regimes, as well as of religious concepts, caused fear.

The other point of reference would be the more obvious one – fear of spooky, abandoned buildings, or buildings where it is known that certain incident was committed (hence, “haunted” for some reason).

On the other hand, we have hideous security systems in both residential and commercial buildings, as well as in city schemes. These systems are essentially designed so that emotion of fear is reduced to a minimum (as well as real threats of theft, terrorism, etc.).Sometimes it happens that these complex high-tech systems bring the users themselves into trouble, i.e. these systems just become counterproductive.It is a separating architecture.Let’s think for a moment about the architecture of embassies, the architecture of police stations, the architecture of prisons, the architecture of mental institutions, the architecture of courtrooms.Architecture is as scary as we attach significance to it.

It seems that architecture today is about facilitating life for both individuals and groups, minorities, tourists; to simplify the movement and give a nice impression, reduce the stress to the minimum with good functionality, aesthetics and solutions in the field of technological prevention.Still, does architecture today make life easier? Some buildings now more than ever cause claustrophobic, and some agoraphobic feelings.Some of them frighten us not because of the details of the scary ornamentation, as it used to be, but precisely because of the need to abolish all details, the need for everything to be reduced and open.We conclude that fear, as well as beauty, is in the eyes of the observer. No matter how many reference qualifications we make, there will always be objects or spaces in which one psychological type of people will be happy to stay, while others will choose different spaces and objects depending on their psychological sensibility.

Miloš Ilić was born in Majdanpek in 1989, and has a Master’s degree in architecture. He writes prose (his work was published in Manuscripts), draws and asks questions.







Anastasija Zdravković (2001, Kragujevac, Serbia) She is a fourth grade student of the Second Kragujevac Gymnasium, a specialized-philological class. Except for the practical exercises which have been enabled to her by attending this class for four years, she has no official translation experience or any prior publications of relevance. Languages ​​are not her’s primary interest, but certainly she is in a way close to them. In the group of languages that she has been learning so far are included (by degree of knowledge): English, German, Italian and Latin.



This article was published in March of 2019, within the Fear topic.

Read the other texts published in the Architecture section.

This article was originally published in Serbian and you can read it here. Translated into English by Anastasija Zdravković.

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