Dezeen Magazine

Architectural Absurdities by Tom Ngo

Toronto-based artist Tom Ngo has sent us some of his drawings depicting scenarios he refers to as Architectural Absurdities.


Ngo's imagined structures include a monument for people with eight arms, a park for carpets and a house designed for a collector of meat grinders.

Top image: Ghost Town Precious. "This construction combines the themes of permanence and the ephemeral. Shoddily constructed with hints of integrity, the structure has a ghost-town quality".

Above: The Swing-Set Houses. "A pair of houses are attached to a large swing-set structure. The houses share a communal circulation core and next door is an individual swing for one person".


"These drawings are created through fracturing rules of concept/design and then obeying them ad absurdum," says Ngo. "The result is a nutty and whimsical brand of social commentary."

Above: No Other Way. "A dream house for a meat grinder collector. The above building is constructed of four like facades presenting him a new home every time he arrives by balloon. The structure below is a mental retreat from his constantly changing everyday".


Above: "A Small Monument for People With 8 Arms. A design in tribute of people with 8 arms. It comes complete with waving platform, monkey bars and a hall of hand cranks."

Here's some more information from Ngo:


Architectural Absurdity

After receiving his Masters of Architecture at Carleton University Tom Ngo stumbled upon a gouache paint set in a neighbour’s trashbin. By merging the medium with technical drafting Tom Ngo embarks on an exploration into the architectural absurd.


Common sense and conventional practice prohibits the evolution of architecture. Through reproducing past models for efficiency and economy, routine thinking preserves the flaws of the standard model. Using different frameworks of thought, architects can create new solutions, which rectify the faults of the norm, and distance themselves from making habitual design decisions.

Above: Namby Pamby. "The repetition of word endings in nonsense poetry creates phonetically appealing words to pronounce. Phrases like Humpty Dumpy and Hey Diddle Diddle are examples of this nonsensical operation. Namby Pamby is an attempt to translate the operation into form."


Built on the foundations of Victorian Nonsense, Alfred Jarry’s ‘Pataphysics, and Absurdist Theatre, Absurdity expands the limits of human reason by presenting a paradoxical solution. By allowing solutions which would normally have been ruled out due to irrationality, absurdity provides non-linear alternatives which interrogate contemporary logic.

Above: The Grass Grew There Mythically Tall. "This drawing was constructed on the premise of altering the properties of grass and exploring the architectural implications. In the spring when the grass grows long, the house peaks through the top of the greenery. As the grass recedes in the winter, the underlying structure is revealed".


Above: The Carpet Park. "This is a park where all carpets gather — Persians and Orientals alike."

Thus, absurdity is a rhetorical device aimed at questioning (architectural) conventions. Architectural absurdity playfully transgresses within the rules of building formation to create valid alternative assemblages while scrutinizing regulation. The resultant architecture redefines the rituals of program and questions the notion of typology. Unbound by strict conformity to logic, the liberated architect breathes new life into architecture.