The Evil Twin


The world is a frightening place of riddles and codes and plot-twists2 Despite such a perplexing first sentence, the goal of this writing is not to alarm you, but perhaps it will.. Architecture, it would seem, is in no way devoid of these same secrets and mysteries, but they are for a large part controlled within the culture of the practice, in the appropriateness of its full-disclosure policy3 Full Disclosure Policy - The following are encouraged, as well as allowed: quotation, reference, citation, innuendo (accompanied, of course by explicit confession acknowledgment of sources), etc. The following may also be used, but only if employed with the strictest mastery and proper cynicism: abstraction, caricature, distortion, perversion, etc. . Thus, a precise decorum has ensured the discussion between past and present, between precedent and project, between original and derivative.

One could imagine architecture without such regulatory statutes, but one would immediately wish that they had not. The following is an account of this dangerous circumstance. Although we have, for a time, been able to avoid the discussion of this project we believe that it should be brought into the conversation to serve as a reminder that architecture should follow the rules, play it safe, and remember to cite its sources—or else, we are in danger of a profound and radical shift (a thing that, clearly, architecture should not strive for).


In 2001, a certain architecture firm by the name of Ashton Raggatt McDougall (otherwise known as A.R.M.) finished construction on a certain project located on the Acton Peninsula in Canberra, Austrailia. That certain project also contained a certain west wing building that would provide office accommodations for a certain organization—the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (otherwise known as A.I.A.T.S.I.S.).
That certain building looks like this:

Villa Savoye


This (Image A) is, in fact, Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye built in Poissy, France in 1930. The certain building designed by a certain firm (A.R.M.) for a certain organization (A.I.A.T.S.I.S.) is not this building (Image A), but this one (Image B).

Ashton Raggatt


It is not our intention to confuse you as to which image is which and certainly not to puzzle you in terms of which building is what, but it would seem that complications arise despite our sincerest efforts to avoid them. Setting out upon such a perilous journey of analysis, our only hope is that we may both clarify and expose the true purpose of this project: what we may in turn begin to understand as the threat of the Evil Twin4 It is important to acknowledge that this is the only time that the terms ‘evil’, ‘twin’, and ‘Evil Twin’ are used in any documentation belonging to the Department of Architectural Decency (D.A.D.). This deviation from conventional vocabulary may bring to light the inability to discuss the Evil Twin solely through the employment of appropriate terminology. Here it seems D.A.D makes an involuntary turn into the realm of the unconventional and the bizarrebb. The Evil Twin belongs to, and functions within, fictional narrative thus trapping any attempt at understanding it within its own frightening world, one which Deleuze would refer to as “the world of simulacra”; a place where “only differences are alike” and similarity becomes a technique employed in the cloaking of another motive. Identity is a falsehood by which no honest link may ever be arrived at. The Evil Twin serves as pure antagonist concerned exclusively in the business of invalidation—the murder of its opposite++.
bbUltimately, the true question lies in why architecture must (or if it even should) associate with the likes of doppelgangers, doubles, and duplicates. It seems that these metaphorical comparisons become the most successful reactionary mechanisms by which we may begin to tolerate and interpret the tensions and internal affairs of architecture. We are but left with an explanation of our reality through the exploration of all things wicked and unintelligible.
Gilles Deleuze; Rosalind Krauss, Plato and the Simulacrum (1983), 52.
++”Copies differ from the model they reproduce since they include it, change it, and erase it.” Urtzi Grau & Cristina Goberna, What Kinds of Copies?, Log 31 New Ancients, 2014.
. Of course, there exists the obvious overlap between A.R.M.’s Evil Twin and Corbusier’s Villa Savoye but what seems to be missing is both the protocol and behavior of traditional debate.

While this Evil Twin seems to be the product of a simple kleptomaniacal act, it employs an obvious inversion to distract from its true action, copying by reversal. No color is clever enough, save that of total opposition5 The Evil Twin exists purely as ‘destructive character’Δ within its own context. It’s only purpose is to exist as resistance to its counterpart, to consume the original, and thus to renew.
Δ The Destructive CharacterΔΔ:
The destructive character is young and cheerful. For destroying rejuvenates, because it clears away the traces of our own age; everything cleared away means to the destroyer a complete reduction, indeed a rooting out, of his own condition.
The destructive character has no interest in being understood. Attempts in this direction he regards as superficial. Being misunderstood cannot harm him. On the contrary, he provokes it.
The destructive character sees nothing permanent.
ΔΔ Taken from Walter Benjamin’s The Destructive Character, 541-542
As Jorge Borges writes about Pierre Menard, and his authorship of the Quixote, it is the same fate to which the Evil Twin is bound— “to repeat an already existing [architecture] in an alien tongue”, in the language of opposition and refusal. To converse in the language of lies, and operate by acts of masterful deceit. Only through such dishonesty is truth revealed.
One can remember the childhood game of “Spot the Difference”, and how quickly skepticism seizes the mind of even the most innocent child. We are taught doubt at a very young age, and thus we proudly grow into our adult criticality with the assurance that our paranoia is necessary. It is the nature of similarity to demand deeper scrutiny and intensified attention to difference. Here, the Evil Twin employs its inverted black color as decoy, a trap that has fooled us into a discussion of authenticity when no such thing exists.
. This kind of hostility on part of an architectural project reveals not only a violation of our current system of argumentation, but the discomfort with which the rest of the practice responds.6 Interestingly enough discomfort seems to be the greatest reaction in regards to the Evil Twin. Its blatant attack on identity and originality hits particularly close to architecture’s jugular, provoking a violent defense. The Evil Twin poses a threat to the tradition of inter-project etiquette, disregarding the rules of engagement. Choose your precedent, cries the crowd. It does, but there is no disclosure of any such thing. Transform, deform, destroy! It does, but not enough, argues the crowd. Cite your sources! It has, but not in the way we wanted. The audience is neither impressed nor amused.
The Evil Twin pushes and redefines the extremes of derivative work and exposes the vulnerability of identity not by stealing, but by stealing without enough flair. Like a magic trick performed without the extravagance of a Las Vegas veteran, it instead comes across as a messy sleight of hand, as a problematic occurrence leaving its blinking subjects with the uncertainty of whether or not the trick was successful or not, or whether it even occurred at all.
It is this very confusion which the tradition of architectural argumentation protects against. Its specific code of conduct is implemented to separate from the otherness of the strange and problematic (the ambiguous and unsettling). The Evil Twin is deemed rude by such standards, its antagonism regarded as both vulgar and illegal.
The Evil Twins representational game is one of tentative relations, its similitude employed with ulterior motives and its difference applied with obscure intention. The dilemma then lies in determining whether or not the Evil Twin’s architectural transformation is sufficient by the latest standards!.
!Entry from the 2014 Maxwell Render for SketchUp competition “Out of Place submitted by Mirče Mladenov:

Ultimately, the Department of Architectural Decency (D.A.D.) implores all Readers to recognize the dangers of what has been revealed in these documents.

Beware, and be wary of such treacherous things.7 “In me didst thou exist— and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself.” Edgar Allan Poe, William Wilson