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  • Arts & Culture
  • Issue 43

Stone Cold

A history of spite architecture. Words by Alex Anderson. Photograph by Dillon Versprille.

Although we usually associate architecture with positive attributes such as beauty and grandeur, it is surprising how often built environments express less benign sensibilities. Dominance, hostility and control are also endemic to architecture. Ancient military fortifications solidified mortal political enmities. Heraldic lions warned away unwanted visitors to walled towns and private estates. Today, our cities are full of aggressive armatures devised to repel squatters, skateboarders and pigeons. 

In “spite architecture, ” these hostilities manifest themselves so boldly that passersby might stop and stare. It’s architecture that’s devised to annoy others: a building maliciously sited to block another’s view, a wall planted to protest a property dispute or a garish application of neon house paint in an area known for tradition and refinement. These dubious works of architecture display deeply personal fights. The Grudge in Beirut, for example, is a thin slice of structural fury—a 13-foot-wide, 4-story

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This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty-Three

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