Aug 22, 2012
what Folly Architecture is
In architecture, a folly is a building constructed primarily for decoration, but either suggesting by its appearance some other purpose, or merely so extravagant that it transcends the normal range of garden ornaments or other class of building to which it belongs. In the original use of the word, these buildings had no other use, but from the 19th to 20th centuries the term was also applied to highly decorative buildings which had secondary practical functions such as housing, sheltering or business use.
18th century English gardens and French landscape gardening often featured Roman temples, which symbolized classical virtues or ideals. Other 18th century garden follies represented Chinese temples, Egyptian pyramids, ruined abbeys, or Tatar tents, to represent different continents or historical eras. Sometimes they represented rustic villages, mills and cottages, to symbolize rural virtues. Many follies, particularly during famine, such as the Irish potato famine, were built as a form of poor relief, to provide employment for peasants and unemployed artisans.
>> General Properties
The concept of the folly is highly ambiguous and it has been suggested that the definition of a folly "lies in the eyes of the beholder".At best, some general guidelines can be produced, all of which have exceptions.
They have no purpose other than as an ornament. Often they have some of the appearance of a building constructed for a particular purpose, but this appearance is a sham.
They are buildings, or parts of buildings. Thus they are distinguished from other garden ornaments such as sculpture.
They are purpose-built. Follies are deliberately built as ornaments.
They are often eccentric in design or construction. This is not strictly necessary; however, it is common for these structures to call attention to themselves through unusual details or form.
There is often an element of fakery in their construction. The canonical example of this is the sham ruin: a folly which pretends to be the remains of an old building but which was in fact constructed in that state.
They were built or commissioned for pleasure.
>> What follies are not
Follies fall within the general realm of fanciful and impractical architecture, and whether a particular structure is a folly is sometimes a matter of opinion. However, there are several types which are related but which can be distinguished from follies.
Fantasy and novelty buildings are essentially the converse of follies. Follies often look like real, usable buildings, but never are; novelty buildings are usable, but have fantastic shapes. The many American shops and water towers in the shapes of commonplace items, for example, are not properly follies.
Eccentric structures may resemble follies, but the mere presence of eccentricity is not proof that a building is a folly. Many mansions and castles are quite eccentric, but being purpose-built to be used as residences, they are not properly follies.
Some structures are popularly referred to as "follies" because they failed to fulfill their intended use. Their design and construction may be foolish, but in the architectural sense, they are not follies.
Visionary art structures frequently blur the line between artwork and folly, if only because it is rather often hard to tell what intent the artist had. The word "folly" carries the connotation that there is something frivolous about the builder's intent. Some works (such as the massive complex by Ferdinand Cheval) are considered as follies because they are in the form of useful buildings, but are plainly constructions of extreme and intentional impracticality.
Amusement parks, fairgrounds, and expositions often have fantastical buildings and structures. Some of these are follies, and some are not; the distinction, again, comes in their usage. Shops, restaurants, and other amusements are often housed in strikingly odd and eccentric structures, but these are not follies.
>> Case 01
Photographer Julien Lanoo has sent us his photos of this wooden folly with mirrored shutters in the mountains of southern Germany by Berlin studio Baumhauer.
The pavilion has a series of deeply set openings and niches that double up as seating, and a ladder leading up to a roof terrace.
The entire structure is clad in larch boards, while the shutters are made from polished stainless steel.
All photographs are by Julien Lanoo.
Here’s some more from the architects:
The pavillion, which was comissioned privately, was originally conceived and planned as a tea house.
In the course of the planning phase, the project evolved into a decorative and ornamental structure that was given a new purpose.
It grew into a Folly of the kind that populated 18th century landscaped gardens in England and turned into an edifice without a clear definition – a larger than lifesize abstract piece of furniture.
Niches in the facade, the roof as well as the interior, where cushions await, invite reposal.
The exterior consists of planed boards of larchwood, whose smoothness contrast with the weathering process.
No flashing (cover sheet), socket or visible attic detract from the sharp edges and solidity of the structure – in part to ensure that the aging process will appear completely homogeneous.
When not in use, the pavillion is closed with shutters made of highly polished stainless steel.
In this way depth is achieved not only by structural means but in an imaginary and illusional way using the reflecting qualities as a mirror.
Material: larch wood, oriented strand board, highly polished stainless steel
Completion: June 2010
Location: Southern Germany
ref. images from Dezeen