Emoji as architecture is now a reality, thanks to the vision of Dutch firm Attika Architekten. As The Verge first reported, the emotive faces from our keyboards are now literally plastered across a building in the city of Amersfoort in central Netherlands, cast in concrete and set near the corners of every window. They resemble roundels from a distance, but up close, the 22 circles relay 22 different expressions, from a smiling face to a grimacing face to a cool face with sunglasses.
Originating in Japan as the very pixelated creations of Shigetaka Kurita, emoji has grown to become one of the most recognizable icons of visual culture around the world today. The ubiquitous symbols convey the spirit of our digital age, so chiseling them into this building — a central shopping and residential hub — made sense to the architects.
“In classical architecture they used heads of the king or whatever, and they put that on the façade,” Attika Architekten’s Changiz 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!’”
You won’t find any screaming cats or cryptic padlocks with keys on the resulting structure, which was completed in 2015 and welcomed its first occupants last summer; the firm used only faces because they are expressive, and opted for the most recognizable ones. Only time will tell whether this is the first emoji building to launch a trend, and if that trend will endure to become as widespread as grotesques on cathedrals or faux shutters on colonial-revival homes. But if emoji must become part of our architectural legacy, I only ask for more tacos and pizza, please.