Palace of Failed Optimism / Wai Think Tank

The Palace of Failed Optimism by Wai Think Tank Architects is an inverted pyramid, a modular, ever-expandable (fictional) megastructure to store all the big-but-failed architectural utopias of the past, present and future. A tomb, designed by WAI Think Tank, as a giant and growing monument to ideas and ideals that never came true.

Palace of Failed Optimism technical information

A palace for the Malevichs and the Tatlins, for the Moses and the Wrights, for the Le Corbusiers and the Hilberseimers, for the Haussmans and the Cerdas, for the Khidekels and the Chernikovs […], but also for the Speers and the Iofans, for all the dream-makers and the nightmare enforcers, for the geodesic domes and the walled cities, for those who dream of anthropological transformations and radical new beginnings.

– Wai Think Tank Architects

Palace of Failed Optimism Images

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Palace of Failed Optimism Article by Wai Think Tank Architects

They wanted to build one vast barn or hangar, new and shiny, a festive hangar. While we were already under the ruins, the remains of this barn, which had collapsed so spectacularly. We belonged to the end of the epic story. They started the epic and we ended it. We saw the results, whereas they saw only the project. They were at the start, peculiar overture of the symphony, denouement fell to our share.

– Ilya Kabakov 1

Every ideal project implies the destruction of other ideal projects. Since unfeasibility is its main feature, the ideal project must be impossible to achieve. The more absurd the proportion of the ideal project, the more powerful its strength. Because the history of the ideal project is written with blood and gun powder, someone finally decided to build a place for it. A building where ideal projects could not only coexist, but where they could harmlessly flourish. The building implied the victory of humankind by defeating the ideal project. It was conceived after realizing that failed optimism due to stagnating idealism, led to the vanishing of ambition and therefore the salvation of the world as ‘we know it’; architecture as ultimate preservation.

Every optimistic project deserves an afterlife. Instead of using the world as a canvas to draw the utopian picture, a special place could be designated where no dream can ever be dangerous enough. Fueled by eschatological fears and an addiction for new beginnings, the new palace was the concretization of a contemporary tragedy; always contemporary, forever tragic. It forecast humankind’s eternal predicament: ideology as prognosis, orthodoxy as resistance. Faustian perversity in architectural form, the building was a structural Pandora’s Box,a cynical museum of philistinism; architecture as ultimate conformism.

Every lost cause deserves a space to be studied, critically scrutinized. For every uncompromising enterprise, there should be a space for collecting the ungraspable need to rule lives under a cosmic order of divine canon, in the form of black squares and electronic poems, of pyramids, and hexahedrons, of beautifully idealistic master plans and horrifically dreadful concentration camps.

There should be a palace for the Lissitskys and the Kabakovs, for the Malevichs and the Tatlins, for the Moses and the Wrights, for the Le Corbusiers and the Hilberseimers, for the Haussmans and the Cerdas , for the Khidekels and the Chernikovs, for the Chiricos and the Palermos, for the Mendelsohns and the Konwiarz, but also for the Speers and the Iofans, for all the dream-makers and the nightmare enforcers, for the geodesic domes and the walled cities, for those who dream of anthropological transformations and radical new beginnings .

In order to protect humankind from itself a –very big—pavilion was built for the coexistence of opposition and divergence, where form is free of friction and ambition can be manifest as drawings and installations, as pictures hanging from the walls and models on pedestals. A temple for the glorification of disillusionment. A palace for the ultimate ambition; architecture as ultimate absolutism.

Read more in Wai Think Tank webpage

1 Ilya Kabakov, Dimitri Ozerkov, Interview with Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, from Utopia and Reality: El Lissitzky, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Exhibition Catalog, (Moscow: The State Hermitage Museum, 2013), 61.

Cite this article: "A Palace of Failed Optimism / Wai Think Tank" in ArchEyes, February 28, 2016, https://archeyes.com/palace-of-failed-optimism-wai-think-tank/.