Friday, September 18, 2009


These images get placed in my Architectectural Horrors File.... a file that is, sadly, already very thick. They come from P.J. Tobia, the Afghanistan correspondent on He calls these monstrosities "narcotecture" or "poppy palaces." They are the type of fortified residences favored by drug kings in Kabul. I'm not qualified to comment on the occupation of the owners. But the architecture...really?

Nouveau riche always exbhibit this kind of bad taste. It reminds me of some of my neighbors in Las Vegas. Perhaps these two cities have something in common? This is agressive architecture that barks at you like a carny hawker. If the razor wire doesn't slice your skin the roof overhangs will.
A serious criticism of these structures is simply that nothing on any of them belongs. Each building is a collection of mismatched details and styles from different eras or nightmares. Greek columns with art deco parapets. Ali Baba portals with Los Angeles diner roofs. A Thai temple over a parking garage.

Check out Mr. Tobia's link if you want to see more.

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