Funded! This project was successfully funded on July 30, 2013.


Help us build a tile installation in Lisbon that re-interprets the traditional wall as a luminous blue and white narrative surface.

What’s the idea?

Horror Vacui is an installation for the Lisbon Triennale Close, Closer (12 September–15 December 2013). The term horror vacui describes a Moorish visual practice adopted by Portuguese builders in the 15th century that involved covering building facades with azulejos, blue and white ceramic tiles commemorating historic events, in order to overcome the unbearable emptiness of the walls. Borrowing from this narrative tradition, the project proposes a method of collective storytelling by pairing vernacular production techniques with digital media to temporarily re-clad a building façade in Lisbon.

Street perspective
Street perspective

How does it work?

Site: A building façade is digitally scanned to produce a 3D model as the visual framework for the ceramic tiles.

Gathering stories: An online image bank will be set up with a call for public submissions. All our supporters will be invited to upload a personal photograph for the installation. Using a custom sorting software, the photographs will be sorted, processed, and tiled to create a pixilated composite of the building façade. Each time someone uploads a photograph, it will appear as a projection on the actual building, a virtual placeholder prior to the physical installation.

Production of tiles: The images, rendered in blue and white, will be printed onto the surfaces of 150x150mm ceramic tiles.

Installation: The tiles will be installed on a custom scaffold designed to protect the existing façade. Individually, each tile will be the visual register of a subjective experience—the contributed photograph. Collectively and from afar, the tiles will read as a mediated copy of the building behind, a kind of trompe l’oeil rendered in blue and white.

Project sequence: From image to façade
Project sequence: From image to façade

How do we plan to do this?

The project is very much a collaborative effort. We are currently working with Autodesk to develop a custom sorting software to process the images. Along with technical support, Autodesk is providing a significant portion of the financial backing. We are also working with Cortiço & Netos, a local Lisbon-based tile manufacturer that preserves discontinued industrial tiles and collaborates with local artists to reinvent new uses for the tiles. Cortiço & Netos will help to produce the tiles and façade mock-ups, as well as oversee the installation on-site. We have designed a novel structural system, advised by structural engineer Guy Nordenson, which will allow us to append the city without disrupting existing fabric. In the collaborative spirit of the project, we encourage public participation—help us design the façade by contributing images and even, construct the installation.

What is the money for?

Our project is scalable; our goal of $15,000 is the most modest proposal and will allow us to cover a 12m2 surface. Any funds above this will allow us to increase the size and visual impact of the project. Funds generously donated will be used to support our material (ceramic tiles, scaffolding), production (design of image uploading website, high-resolution building scanning, ceramic tile printing), installation, and site permit costs.

Where can I find out more?

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Once we successfully raise the money needed, the construction and installation of the project will hold its own risks—securing materials, coordinating the schedule and timing of construction, as well as possible other unforeseen complications. We feel confident though that with our combined construction experience at various architecture offices, and with the expertise and goodwill of our collaborators, we will be able to overcome any of these setbacks.


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    Horror Vacui POSTCARD — A custom-made postcard will arrive in your mailbox direct from Lisbon.

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    49 backers

    Horror Vacui TILE — A framed, custom-made ceramic tile from the installation will show up at your doorstep.

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    6 backers

    Horror Vacui TCHOTCHKE — A mini tile creation custom-designed by Ang, Jaffer, and Phoebe.

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    Horror Vacui TOUR — We'll fly you to Lisbon for the vernissage, put you up, and raise a toast.

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Funding period

- (21 days)