The method of loci was invented more than 2000 years ago, and widely used by the Greeks and later the Romans to memorize and give speeches that could last for hours. The Romans mentally placed the key points of their speech in locations along a familiar route through their city or palace. To remember a key point, they represented it by a concrete item, and visualized that item somehow interacting with a particular location. While giving their speech, they just mentally walked along the same journey through their memory palace.
Life a User’s Manual is Georges Perec’s most famous novel, published in 1978. Some critics have cited the work as an example of postmodern fiction and it is a tapestry of interwoven stories and ideas as well as literary and historical allusions, based on the lives of the inhabitants of a fictitious Parisian apartment block, 11 Rue Simon-Crubellier. It was written according to a complex plan of writing constraints, and is primarily constructed from several elements, each adding a layer of complexity.
The Encyclopedic Palace is a mixed media, sculptural model that was created by self-taught Italian-American artist Marino Auriti in the 1950s. He explained his conception in the following terms: “This building is an entirely new concept in museums, designed to hold all the works of man in whatever field, discoveries made and those which may follow.” The artist intended for his concept to be realized by a skyscraper that would soar above the National Mall in Washington D.C. Had The Encyclopedic Palace been constructed, it would have stood 136-storeys and 2,322 feet high, making it the tallest building of its time (only to be surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in 2010).
'The New Museum’, an international project set up at the end of the ‘80’s by Chris Dercon and Stefaan Decostere for the purpose of making a television documentary. The project aimed at nothing less than a complete exploration of the museum as a historical model of worldmaking, as a means of organizing knowledge and culture into a coherent picture. One of the projects’ opportunities to overstep the limits of the normal television documentary was its conception of the programme as a building consisting of several storeys and rooms. Unfortunately the plan did never go on the air due to its technical complexity at the time.
Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924), a French postman, began work on his dream palace in the late 19th century. As the story is told, Cheval tripped on a rock in 1879 along his mail route, picked it up and was so fascinated by its peculiar shape that he was inspired to build the imaginative palace originally called “The Temple of Nature”. Real self-taught, he devotes the following 33 years of his life to build this dream palace in his garden alone.
This 18th century Dutch cabinet is part of the Rijksmuseum’s furniture collection. The cabinet houses curiosities including a mini-apothecary’s shop filled with over 300 jars, pots and bottles containing medicines. Concealed behind the rear wall of the cabinet, 55 secret drawers reveal a varied collection of over 2,000 naturalia specimens – including seeds, flowers, roots, and a great deal more. The cabinet was probably owned by a wealthy doctor or pharmacist and its contents were intended as a curiosity, for the amusement of a select group of friends.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a 1964 children’s book by British author Roald Dahl. The story features the adventures of young Charlie Bucket inside the chocolate factory of Willy Wonka.
One day, Grandpa Joe tells 11-year-old Charlie Bucket about the legendary and eccentric chocolatier and all the wonderful candy he made until the other candymakers sent in spies to steal his secret recipes, which lead him to close the factory forever. The next day, the newspaper announces that Mr. Wonka is reopening the factory and has invited five children to come on a tour.
Paul Noble’s intricate graphite drawings describe Nobson Newtown, a place composed of labyrinthine edifices and deserted topography embedded with modules of dense detail. The bricks of Noble’s metropolis are a three-dimensional alphabet. The letters form structures like Nobspital (a hospital) and Welcome to Nobson (a monument). The observant viewer can literally read the metropolis. It is a city of extremes, of cartoon-like events and madness: the encrypted fictions of Nobson Newtown are dizzyingly complex—visual articulations of the tensions between disorder, perversion, and logical schema. References between and tautological cohesion within the epic cross-medium series underpins Noble’s concept of Nobson Newtown as its own autonomous sphere of reality.
The design of the Forbidden City (Beijing, China), from its overall layout to the smallest detail, was meticulously planned to reflect philosophical and religious principles, and above all to symbolise the majesty of Imperial power.
One example is the layout of buildings that follows ancient customs laid down in the Classic of Rites. Another example is that almost all roofs in the Forbidden City bear yellow glazed tiles (yellow is the color of the Emperor). There are only two exceptions: the library at the ‘Pavilion of Literary Profundity’ which has black tiles (because black was associated with water, and thus fire-prevention) and similarly, the ‘Crown Prince’s residences’ have green tiles (green was associated with wood, and thus growth).