If you can’t tell a Wright from a van der Rohe, artist Federico Babina’s newest project, Archibet, will teach you your architecture ABCs. It’s an illustrated alphabet honoring 26 rock star architects, from Alvar Aalto to Zaha Hadid. Architecture junkies can buy their favorite illustrations as posters on Babina’s site.
“The idea was to build a small microcosm of imaginary architecture on realistic foundations,” Babina tells Co.Design. The project beautifully conflates architecture and typography: “Each letter is a small surrealist work of architecture that becomes part of an imaginary city made up of different shapes and styles,” Babina says. To create the images, the artist used a variety of techniques, from hand-drawing to 3-D computer modeling.
Babina is the Barcelona-based illustrator who brought us Archicine, posters featuring iconic architecture from classic movies. In Archibet, he uses the same colorful, retro illustration style to envision famous architects’ signature styles applied to lettering: Norman Foster’s space-age sensibility is captured in a monolithic, metallic F. Oscar Niemeyer’s modernist designs are imagined as a giant N, complete with a curvy waterslide. Zaha Hadid’s imposing Library and Learning Center in Vienna zigzags into a Z.
“Architecture is an “international language,” a system of communication,” Babina says. “Its complex structure affords a wider range of possible expressions and uses.” Archibet is a playful spin on this idea of architectural design as visual communication, as letters are the primary building blocks of meaning.