This trippy building is a real-life glitch

Walk towards Switzerland’s House of Electronic Arts Basel and you may forget that you’re in the real world. The walls are warped, the pipes cut, the railings bent – as if the façade had been hit by a computer glitch.

Get closer, however, and you’ll see that the side of the building isn’t a vast monitor gone wrong. It is in fact metal and concrete, designed and built to resemble a momentary digital distortion.


The structure, built by the Berlin-based art studio !Mediengruppe Bitnik, is called “H3333333K” – itself a glitchy version of acronym for the institution’s German name, “HeK”.glitch_three

!Mediengruppe Bitnik spoke to Hyperallergic about the process behind making the structure, and its inspiration in the way digital 3D architectural models shape physical buildings. “The idea was to cast something fluid, non-permanent like a software error into something physical and permanent, like architecture,” the group said.glitch_four

Glitch art is becoming increasingly popular. In 2013 British artist Luke Jerram installed a pixellated sculpture of his daughter in Bristol Temple Meads railway station, while Canadian artist Mathieu St-Pierre creates kaleidoscopic pictures based on digital glitches. The Dutch artist Rosa Menkman’s Glitch Studies Manifesto describes the glitch as “a wonderful interruption that shifts an object away from its ordinary form and discourse, towards the ruins of destroyed meaning”.

Although the distorted walls and railings of “H3333333K” look fragile, the building is apparently structurally sound and totally functional. After slicing the front pipes, the architects had to add additional ones to keep the façade’s plumbing in check.

The end result is subtly disorientating, and casts a momentary computer mistake into a permanent addition to the Swiss art institution.

(All photos by Kathrin Schulthes)

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