In 2017, buildings now come with their own emoji

A Dutch architect embellished a new building with the images to mark the 21st century

In 2017, buildings now come with their own emoji

[Attika Architekten]

Should you find yourself on an architectural walking tour of the Dutch city of Amersfoort, a concrete embellishment embossed on the outside of a building may well catch your eye.

Far from the historic gargoyles, heraldic crests, or faces of royalty etched into the stonework, this new building showcases some of the most recognisable icons of the 21st century – emoji.

Created by Dutch architect Chanzig Tehrani, the emoji were selected as a way of adding a decorative touch to the new apartment and commercial building, chosen specifically to mark this point in time.

“In classical architecture, they used heads of the king or whatever, and they put that on the façade,” Tehrani told The Verge.

“So we were thinking, what can we use as an ornament so when you look at this building in 10 or 20 years you can say, ‘Hey, this is from that year!’ The answer was obvious: emoji.”

The emoji motifs only appear on one side of the building, with all of the other façades embellished with plain circles instead [Attika Architekten]

The style of emoji selected by architecture firm Attika Architekten is based on those used on the WhatsApp messaging platform, though from afar they are not clearly visible. But once your architectural walking tour passes by, keen viewers will be able to see the grinning face, face blowing a kiss, flushed face and confounded face, amongst others.

Tehrani said he decided to only select face-based emoji, which he says are the most expressive and recognisable. The faces were first rendered into 3D moulds, into which concrete was poured to cast the faces.

The architectural flourish only appears on one side of the building, which comprises ground-floor shops and apartments on top. The final finish has also proven very popular with the pupils in a school that sits on the same square as the new building.

Architect Chanzig Tehrani posing with a concrete cast emoji [Attika Architekten]

“There’s all these young people there, and emoji is a thing of now,” Tehrani said. “The students sit in the square and have lunch and they take pictures. They like it. And with our architecture, we always like to put in small details that makes the project a little bit more than a boring building.”

When asked about the lasting power of emoji as a communication device, Tehrani said he wasn’t concerned that the little pictographs could lose their pop cultural cache.

“It’s like with Facebook,” he said. “Facebook used to be cool and now it’s just for older people. So maybe we won’t use emoji in 10 years – that’s fine. It’s still from our time.”

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