• 03.31.16

Your City’s Architecture As Adorable Animated GIFs

Animator Michael William Lester imagines the secret personas of buildings in Dubai, Brasilia, London, and other cities across the globe.

The more you think about how buildings are constructed today, the more they become personified. They have character from their style and silhouette. Thanks to modern HVAC systems, they breathe. And courtesy of smart tech and automation, they can “think.” Artist Michael William Lester takes it one step further and imagines scenarios in which buildings actually come alive.


In a project called Character Building, Lester creates 20 different GIFs of actual buildings around the world and imagines what they’d be like if they suddenly became animated and what their life story would be. “The Burj al Arab dipped into the Arabian gulf in 1999 and hasn’t left the water since” and “Tomorrow Square’s striking stare protects it from Shanghai’s fiercest storms,” he writes on his website. The GIFs are accompanied by the bona fides of each building, like the architect, year or construction, location, and number of stories.

“Good architecture interacts with its surroundings,” Lester writes. “It gives off energy, sparks interaction, and pulls so much life in that the building itself lives and breathes.” A clever concept for art project, but I’ll take my skyscrapers nice and stationary in real life.

About the author

Diana Budds is a New York–based writer covering design and the built environment.