Friday, December 23, 2011

Fairy Tales & Architecture - 3 Part Series w/ Kate Bernheimer & Andrew Bernheimer

This month we learn that our friend of fairy tales Kate Bernheimer has been doing some groundbreaking work in an unusual field - at least regarding fairy tales. Now that the subject has come up I wonder why I haven't seen it tackled before? The series is called "The House on Chicken Feet"and is co-produced by fairy tale writer and teacher Kate Bernheimer (editor of one of my favorite fairy tale study books, Mirror, Mirror On The Wall among other fantastic works) and her brother and architect Andrew Bernheimer.

Here's the introduction to the concept and header for each part in the series:
Fairy tales have transfixed readers for thousands of years, and for many reasons; one of the most compelling is the promise of a magical home. How many architects, young and old, have been inspired by the hero or heroine, banished from the cottage, lost in the woods, who risks everything to find a forever-space?
In this series, which appears in three installments this week on Places, we look at fairy tales through the lens of architecture. Participating firms — Bernheimer Architecture, Leven Betts and Guy Nordenson and Associates — have selected favorite tales and produced works exploring the intimate relationship between the domestic structures of fairy tales and the imaginative realm of architecture.  
Houses in fairy tales are never just houses; they always contain secrets and dreams. This project presents a new path of inquiry, a new line of flight into architecture as a fantastic, literary realm of becoming. We welcome you to these fairy-tale places.
— Kate Bernheimer & Andrew Bernheimer
The series start HERE and there are links to the second and third part on each page.

The various architectural firms take inspiration from three tales and revisit the designs of key structures in the tales at the same time as they look at the stories and consider the significance of such buildings. Considering Kate Bernheimer is a master at getting people to think about the relevance of fairy tales with regard to their lives and to the general populace, you know you want to read these articles! They're fairly short and easy to read but chock-full of unusual perspectives and information.

The three tales are Baba Yaga, in which they look at the hut on chicken feet, Jack and the Beanstalk in which they consider the beanstalk itself and Rapunzel who gets a design update on her cocoon, er, prison, er, childhood home. The stories all get a brief consideration in their own right (from the fabulous perspective of Kate Bernheimer of course!) then the architects and design firms are asked a few questions related to their re-imagining of the fairy tale structure.

Can you tell I'm fascinated? I'm only disappointed there isn't more. (Hint, hint Bernheimer siblings. ;)


  1. Interesting.

    Have you seen this:

  2. @Heidi Dahlsveen Oh yes! I think I may have posted on it eons ago...? Or if I didn't it's sitting in a draft somewhere. I love that little hobbit house! I have more fairy tale home pics to share some time too - so much great fairy tale stuff to keep up with! Kind of a good problem to have I think. :)
    Thanks for the link! Definitely recommend that one to all fairy tale people.