Architecture According to Pigeons – a bird’s eye view of the world

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Sometimes, it’s all a matter of perspective…

And I am a huge fan of Speck Lee Tailfeather’s perspective – he’s the star of Architecture According to Pigeons.

According to Speck, pigeons have a “…deep and abiding passion for architecture…” and so who better to take you on an aerial tour of some of the most beautiful and iconic buildings around the world?!

Speck’s ‘birds-eye-view’ takes in all sorts of buildings from the instantly recognisable Colosseum and Taj Mahal to perhaps the lesser known, but nonetheless impressive Japanese Church of the Light and the CCTV Headquarters in Beijing. Australia’s own Sydney Opera House also gets a mention. At each stop, Speck gives young readers all sorts of  information about the basic principles of architecture and what makes particular buildings unique, as well as historical and geographical facts.

Speck has a good sense of humour, evidenced in his alternative names for the various buildings – the Eiffel Tower is know to pigeons as the Iron Tree and Barcelona’s Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is actually the ‘Forest of Dreams’. There’s also a quick rundown of iconic bridges and Speck’s ‘Best Towers Ever’ –

“I’m a big fan of towers: the thing about them is… well… they’re high! That’s really rather the point of them. The question is, why? Why go high rather than low?… Well, buster, you’re asking the right pigeon. I’ll tell you exactly what’s with all the upness. The taller you are, the more powerful you seem.”

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My favourite spot on Speck’s tour is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. The clever combination of pigeon commentary and raw facts about the building is engaging and a good example of how every part of this book gently nudges readers to think about the architect’s inspiration and intention. For example, about Fallingwater, Speck says –

“…one thing struck me – the whole house is made up of straight lines, something almost never seen in nature. To truly blend with its surroundings, should Wright have made Fallingwater look somehow rockier and craggier? But then would it have been so stylish? I’m not sure…”

Of course, the illustrations are critical to the success of a book such as this and Natsko Seki’s sketches of buildings, laid against water colour backgrounds and photo collages are remarkable.

Architecture According to Pigeons is available online from Book Depository with free delivery to Australia.

Architecture According to Pigeons from Craig Essam on Vimeo.

Katrina Whelen

Katrina studied planning and design, did the hard yards working in a big office building and then traded it all in for a relaxing (!) life at home with four children. She now fills her time with writing, completing a degree in genetics and taxiing her children around Melbourne to their various sporting commitments (not necessarily in that order).

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