Searching for Yonic in the World of Phallic
In 2013, Zaha Hadid Architects caused an international media uproar when the firm released renderings of their design for the 2022 Qatar World Cup Stadium. Many people mocked its design, saying it resembled a vagina. Zaha was furious- “It’s really embarrassing that they come up with nonsense like this. What are they saying? Everything with a hole in it is a vagina? That’s ridiculous.”
The public’s reaction to this project is confusing. Have you noticed the plethora of phallic architecture out there? The Gherkin in London, Torre Agbar in Barcelona, The Williamsburgh Savings Bank in Brooklyn - Basically every tower ever designed and built is a direct reference to male power. When a designer successfully challenges the phallic status quo and celebrates the feminine, the response should be support rather than disgust. Feminism still has work to do in design fields and destigmatization of the feminine form is a direct way designers can go about it.
In honor of breaking with the status quo, we have collected a few of our favorite projects to celebrate the existence of Yonic Architecture as outliers within the field.
CCTV Tower by OMA, Beijing – A subversion of the phallic tower by introducing an opening under a dramatic cantilever
Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort by MAD Architects – Another example of architecture that plays with a striking void in its massing.
Selfridges Building by Future Systems, Birmingham – A prominent example of what became known as blobitecture, the curvilinear forms challenge the standard orthogonal architectural language and led the way for Zaha’s feminine aesthetic
Endless House by Friedrick Kiesler – An early example of biomorphic design from 1950, Kiesler was inspired by female anatomy. “Endless like the human body – there is no beginning and no end.”
Wombhouse (2004) and Bikinibar (2006) by Atelier Van Lieshout – These architectural art installations explored the politics of women’s bodies through dry satire. Van Lieshout said of Bikinibar that it is “the only female body you can enter without permission.”
Often working with voids and curvilinear forms, in this piece Kapoor expresses feminine sensuality out of hulking corten steel and the void as a dark gaping hole. Seems to me like a very masculine way of representing female sexuality.
Another artist interested in using void as a medium, James Turrell’s Skyspaces play with optics and perception by turning the vastness of beyond into a seemingly flat surface.
Hass House by Mark Mills – Often referred to as the “Limp Penis House” this structure, though not yonic, represents a different take on the phallic structure. Whether intentional or not, this structure slopes down the terrain rather than erupting out of it.
Title image credits: Rendering of Al Wakrah Stadium, Zaha Hadid Architects, 2013 – Image Source: AECOM