Towers & Skyscrapers: from Babel to Dubai


A limited overview of some egregious erections.

While it was being constructed, Alain de Botton compared the Shard to "a giant penis thats made an appearance at a very inopportune and unwelcome moment." Now completed, the Shard is not only London's but also Europe's tallest building. It towers over the rest of its neighborhood, completely out of place.

Comparing skyscrapers to penises isn't a very original line of critique, but it is one of many overlooked by the Towers and Skyscrapers exhibition at the CaxiaForum. Other obvious lines of criticism that the exhibition misses include the environmental impact of skyscrapers, and the conditions of the workers who build them.

Instead, Towers and Skyscrapers frames its its historical survey of tall buildings in terms of an abstract desire for "verticality" and the urge to overcome material constraints. Even for a small exhibition this is a pretty limited view, and it's hard to discuss these particular human urges without being inexorably drawn back into a discussion of penises.

_Towers and Skyscrapers: From Babel to Dubai is at the CaxiaForum in Barcelona until the 9th of September._

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