Razzle Dazzle

6744707991_b4816b0a37_zThis week I am going to continue testing and studying the idea of camouflage. Dazzle camouflage, also known as razzle dazzle or dazzle painting is used in the animal kingdom by animals like Zebras, and was used extensively in World War I. Unlike the other types of camouflage (crypsis, and mimesis), dazzle works not by offering a type of concealment but rather making it difficulty to estimate a target range, speed and heading.


Architecturally dazzle has the ability to make a structure really stand out from its surroundings. Stephen Hobbs has taken the idea of dazzle architecture quite literally and painted it onto the facades of a building near Pretori’s historic zoo. The idea he was trying to demonstrate was feeling of ambiguity and miscommunication dazzle can have on an object. In this application we can easily see how the idea of dazzle camouflage can be take from zebra or a ship to a building, but what else is out there that does the same thing?


Frank Gehry is an international byword for eye-popping design. Gehry regularly produces building that look like big sculptures. Looking at Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim we can start to see how the structure has bits and dazzle camouflage in it. The building opened in 1997 and became and instant international tourist destinations. They question is why and how did it manage this feat? Well, some have coined the answer to that question the “Bilbao Effect”. The idea is that if you create something that stands out from its environment people will quite latterly stop and look at it, similar to the zebra.


The Bilbao Guggenheim appears to look differently at each angle you may be viewing it from. Part of its disguise can be attributed to the curves and edge conditions highlighted by the metallic patterned covering. The bottom line is that this building and its “Bilbao Effect” started something that has proved irresistible and has spread to other cultural institutions such as symphony orchestras, public libraries, and institutions. Universities hire architects to design something that will have a similar dazzling effect if hopes of the publicity will raise enrollments. With that said dazzle really takes on new meaning for me.



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