by Zac Hong, AA Foundation
18 March 2014 Architectural Association, London   What makes one city so different from another? A great many things- from its urban planning to its culture, cuisine or inhabitants. But often the most obvious characteristic to any visitor is at the superficial level: the little details that scatter the cityscape, like symbols on road signs, or decorative elements on shop façades.   Intending to transform one city into another through minor cosmetic alterations, I painted Parisian details on very recognisable views of London. Using crude acrylic brushstrokes, a quintessential London pub was disguised as a French café. Though obvious giveaways like the red London buses (and even a Union Jack!) were present, these incredibly simple alterations changed the ‘feel’ of the scene completely. Many were indeed fooled into thinking they were looking at scenes of Paris at first glance, subsequently realising the truth via a double-take.   This led to further explorations. From maps of London with superimposed historical annotations of Paris, to physically pasting Parisian signboards onto London streets, the whole exercise was an attempt to show how ‘unique’ cities can, in a way, be merely skin-deep.   For more information: AA Foundation Microsite AA Foundation Brief