Bureau Spectacular: Cartoonish Metrolpolis (Courtesy Jimenez Lai)

Work / Architecture

Bureau Spectacular’s superb walk-in graphic novel takes over Architecture Foundation

We diffident Brits have always been suspicious of brash foreign types who like to blow their own trumpets (We’ll decide for ourselves if your wall’s great or not thanks China!). So with a name like Bureau Spectacular, the Chicago-based architecture practice could have been setting themselves up for a fall ahead of their first show outside their homeland at London’s Architecture Foundation.

Working at the intersection between narratives and buildings they describe their mission to create, “absurd stories about fake realities that invite enticing possibilities.” Three Little Worlds is a walk-in graphic novel, or as the Bureau’s founder Jimenez Lai puts it: “a cartoonish blow up of a fragment inside the Cartoonish Metropolis…a window into another reality.”

Combining a special wall painting, a three-part modular structure and a specially-commissioned graphic novel the whole show can be reconfigured by the curators to “play out the relationship between spectacle and spectator in architecture and performance art, merging Hugh Hefner’s exhibitionism with Joseph Beuys’s conception of art as life, to explore the plural fantasies and realities that architecture can provoke and frame.”

At its heart though the piece combines interesting, meaty ideas with colour, fun and ambition. Spectacular indeed!

Three Little Worlds runs until August 25, and our good pals at have done a good video featuring the project.


Bureau Spectacular: Three Little Worlds (Pic Daniel Hewitt)


Bureau Spectacular: Three Little Worlds (Pic Daniel Hewitt)


Bureau Spectacular: Three Little Worlds (Pic Daniel Hewitt)


Bureau Spectacular: Three Little Worlds (Pic Daniel Hewitt)