Many of the designs of merit in architecture were never realized; i.e. never actually built, or no longer exist. Yet these designs informed and inspired future generations of architects and designers to create the built environment we live in today. Proposed structures like 'The Monument to the Third International' i.e. "Tatlin's Tower" in Saint Petersburg (1919), Frank Lloyd Wright's "Mile High Tower - The Illinois" (1956), Le Corbusier's and Boris Iofan's submissions for "The Palace of the Soviets" (1931), Giuseppe Terragni's "Danteum" (1938), Archigram's "Drive in House" (1967), Boullee's "Newton's Cenotaph" (1784), Adolf Loos's "Chicago Tribune Column" (1922), Sant 'Elia's Futurist "Power Station" (1913)...

"Whether censored, forgotten, postponed, impossible or rejected, these unrealized projects form a unique testament to the speculative power of non- action". As Joel Fisher suggested in his essay "The Success of Failure": the failures of big ideas are sometimes more impressive than the successes of little ones. (in Unbuilt Roads: 107 Unrealized Projects by Obrist and Guy Tortosa).

Non-action as a form of action

UNBUILT can be regarded as an expansion of drawing. It deals with time and architecture, using scale models of projects, never built.

I visited several architectural studios looking for 3D models of projects which were not and will never be built. I used the more suggestive ones, both from the point of view of the subject matter and of its forms. Some models were complete, others partially dismounted or destroyed. As fragments, they work as elements of a grammar and announce a though about space.

Most of the found models are made of white cardboard, others of plaster or concrete. Some of these small scale models are very detailed, others totally abstract.


The models were copied and both the scale and the material were changed. The new wooden models were be self-suspended, aligned along the wall, designing a line that travels trough space which results from the sequential organization of dozens of model fragments. This continuous line is set at eye level, parallel to the floor and slightly apart from the wall.

The continuity of the design, may be broken or intensified by the inclusion of specific original models, such as a family home, a project by the architects Aires Mateus. This project was never built due a tragic event. The plaster model of the "white house" keeps its original form, but reveal signs of having be exposed to the element, as it was stored outdoors, thus transformed into something quite delicate and beautiful. The solid plaster wear down to a point of becoming almost like a lace surface, a self created drawing.

--By Fernanda Fragateiro