Camouflage and Architecture....Why Architecture needs to be camouflaged? Thesis topic

Maleeha Khan Durrani

I am currently working on the idea of camouflage and Architecture...And in that I am focusing on how I can create illusion and I can blurr the vision of the enemy ... Worried I am....I need suggestions for creation of my thesis statement..Also the direction I can move in, inorder to achieve tthe blended mode of Architecture ...Rather than making Architecture monumental and visible

Feb 9, 17 12:11 pm

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"blurr the vision of the enemy"? Are you designing for war zones? Camouflaging existing buildings to save non-combatant's lives? Or Camouflaging military installations? The former is interesting, the latter is not. Is this part of architecture's set of roles?

Feb 9, 17 12:13 pm

During World War 2 and the Cold War after lots of American factories and critical bunkers were disguised. There was an airplane assembly facility in Washington state with fake houses trees cars and even playgrounds on the roof so it looked like a typical suburban neighborhood from the air. 

More recently there is an attempt to expand buildings, typically museums underground so as to detach and not disrupt the neoclassical buildings which are often civic symbols in their own right

There are still efforts to hide or soften the security systems used to prevent truck bombs from ramming into public buildings. This happened after the Oklahoma City terrorist attack in the 90s where benches and landscaping became engineered barriers. Also in this time a lot of heavy sculpture and generous plazas and closed off pedestrian streets showed up as part of the new security reality that truck bombs can and will happen in the US.

This can be an interesting topic but maybe needs to be a little more narrow so you don't go crazy researching all there is out in the world on camouflage architecture.

Over and OUT

Peter N

Feb 9, 17 1:49 pm


Feb 9, 17 3:09 pm

There's a book on camouflage design..but it's really hard to find.

Feb 9, 17 3:09 pm

it can still be found second hand Kevin.

Feb 9, 17 3:29 pm

When you get the book you can treat yourself to the following:

Feb 9, 17 6:23 pm
Featured Comment

great conversation.  everything should be camouflage. 

hard to beat a ghillie suit.  i think this would be the architectural equivalent:

probably less green if you're in Karachi though?

Feb 9, 17 7:36 pm

Cappadocia, Turkey

Mesa Verde, Colorado cliff homes

Feb 9, 17 8:08 pm

mightyaa thanks for some food for thought, Dogon lands in Mali are similar, as are some contemporary (unbuilt) projects that spring to mind.

Feb 9, 17 9:35 pm

This appears to be a "Camouflage" project, even in person you can barely see it.  This is more Illusion.


Nalbach und Nalbach with Dan Graham

Feb 9, 17 9:44 pm
Maleeha Khan Durrani

@kevin wagner, can you please tell me the name of the book? and possibly a link too.

@cutkram, this is the confusion actually that after understanding camouflaging technique, its history etc, what place exactly i ll be going to make in order to it be enemyproof.

Feb 9, 17 10:58 pm
Maleeha Khan Durrani

@peter normand, can you please tell that what possibly i can cater when i say ''enemyproof''

does it necessarily mean to be terrorsits? or can our enemy be the polluted congested, carbon filled environment

Feb 9, 17 11:01 pm

who is the "enemy" appears to be the first question. then once you decide who the "enemy" is you have to determine if architecture could provide a response. then decide if "camouflage" is the correct response.............for example, off the top of my head - assume Western Capitalism/Western Globalization is the "enemy" to traditions and religion and the old world. Your spriritual guide has been replaced by your financial guide. Dwelling has become a commodity. The city is an investment machine like the stock market - gentrification, etc...Now that I have defined the possible "enemy" and it appears it affects architecture at both the dwelling scale and the urban scale - how does one then provide a response to "camouglage" these items to preserve and/or enchance their existence as the "enemy" marches towards their overthrow and capture? for dwelling I would recommend Martin Heidegger with regard to technology - a key attribute of this "enemy". would also recommend the work of Parasite 2.0 ( - analog encrypted dwelling. For urban planning the key response would be to avoid invasion of investment. Favellas would be a start..............lets say though traditions, religion, and the old world were the "enemy" then how does capital investment invade these places "camouflaged" or remain in place while going unnoticed. old city center - historic preservation but only if the buyer can drop a high-end fashion store in to the space. or mixed used condominum towers with "community" centers at the base. Zoning that gives the developer more floor area if they provide more public spaces. Simply researching current city development guidelines could help you determine how an agressive investor may "camouflage" themselves. a slumlord intentionally causing poor conditions to devalue the property, have tenants move out, to then attract new tenants - hipsters and/or yuppies, to increase investment value and cause change to the neighborhood, etc.....

Feb 10, 17 7:43 am

i don't know if i like the idea of looking for an enemy when you don't have one.  seems like republican strategy.  not working.

the thought that there is a position for an enemy that isn't being filled should be replaced with the thought that we can just try to be friends.

just paint it camo.  you don't even need an enemy, and it's awesome.

Feb 10, 17 9:17 am
Maleeha Khan Durrani

@cutkram, its a thesis project, i cant just paint it....

i have to work on a philosophy and i am supposed to derive conclusions, the research phase and design should be interconnected....

help me in raising questions that why camouflaged...

Feb 10, 17 9:24 am
Maleeha Khan Durrani

@cutkram, its not about looking for an enemy, they are everywhere, if you know what happened to army public school peshawar, that brutal massacre of kids, i feel that its a need to design anti terrorist space, because in pakistan you dont know when you get attacked...

Feb 10, 17 10:17 am

The "camo" should prolly be able to disable drone bombers, perhaps bursts of EMF?

Feb 10, 17 12:13 pm

Well, you could always fly the ISIS flag over the Louvre. That might help some. Maybe Notre Dame, too, while you are at it. Make that puppy into a mosque!

Feb 10, 17 12:28 pm

Sorry, unfamiliar with any book on the subject, the "hard to find" comment was a poor attempt at camo humor.

Feb 10, 17 12:31 pm

I hope someone puts camo on that new Gensler project because it is butt ugly.

Feb 10, 17 12:41 pm

Maleeha, your questions and concerns indicate one main item as to why "camoflouge" - safety. if you want to do it visually I think "illusion" is the technique.

Feb 10, 17 7:07 pm

architecture can do a lot things for safety physically - barriers, railings, bullet proof glass, etc...your thesis then is one very specific method of safety that is more visual than physical. of course you will return to the physical to create the visual. you could suggest "camoflouge" is not as direct as having a bunker or safe place. good luck

Feb 10, 17 7:11 pm
Maleeha Khan Durrani


 that's what i am aiming for (that suggesting camouflage not as direct as having a bunker'', i am aiming to pick up the current urban environment, i don't know may be I pickup the number of people that are homeless and cant afford to live in a home, and i provide a shelter within an operational facility, what if i make transforming billboards, that manipulate at nighttime, these are just thoughts, i am trying to figure out the correct definition of enemy to architecture and then how to camouflage the habitat  so that the architecture is hidden in the environment yet its there, one idea could be that '' it does not necessarily means that architecture is visible, and prominent. i think i am not narrowing down stuff...

because if i work for urban environments then my jurers will gona ask that why only camouflage...thats whats my opinion i want to put less impact on the surrounding, because we are already living in a highly urban city..whos population  has exceeded..

chris, also i was thinking of making underground spaces, but my internal teacher ask me that its not as challenging, what is more challenging is how being on ground i create illusion...

Feb 10, 17 10:38 pm
Maleeha Khan Durrani

@chris,  shed some light on my thoughts.....

Feb 11, 17 10:25 pm

i am not a guru; just a bored architect (working on like 50 projects kind of bored) but I see you are a bit like me. you want to think about everything: you are an architect!. this is hard and impossible to do, you evolve in a lifetime to do these moments... you know your jurors are looking for one answer and that is what you give them. this one answer is based on the challenge your internal teacher gave you. take your best thought, the one you feel conviction on. take that thought and design it literally. as noted a bunker is too easy, its physical. the illusion is harder. even if you are uncertain express certainty and let the jurors argue. go for it!

Feb 12, 17 1:16 am
Maleeha Khan Durrani

@ chris, 

i got it...thanks

Feb 12, 17 1:25 am

do not know if its tranlation issues, but enemy is an enemy and enemy to architecture refines the issue a bit. but then what is architecture? again, up to you. school and especially thesis is about you, so do not change your thoughts for others but express them clean through.

Feb 12, 17 1:26 am
Maleeha Khan Durrani

@ chris, 

i am making my first presentation and by the end of this week i m gona finalise to what exactly my approach will be....btw i am still confused...i dont know why am i taking too long to decide what i ll be doing.. you know what fears a student, when your juror confuses you...while you are speaking, but my philosophy is simple... that is architecture all about being seen? or its about my task is to bridge all the gap through out my idea to architecture..

at point i feel like just making pointers( spires) lighthouses in the sea..

thanks chris.

Feb 12, 17 1:35 am

i have been a juror and have asked confusing questions. the response is - ignore that narrative and talk about your narrative. you want them to debate your confusion but not appear confused!

Feb 12, 17 1:58 am
Maleeha Khan Durrani

@ Chris,

              got a tip, its that i should convince myself about my ideas  in order to make others CONVINCED.. 

Feb 12, 17 2:01 am

you are right - you are right. you have thought about the problem more than anyone else.

Feb 12, 17 2:05 am
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Feb 12, 17 8:35 am

so how did it go?

Feb 13, 17 8:34 pm
Maleeha Khan Durrani

i can share my panel jpeg , if i can get your email address.

Maleeha Khan Durrani


my turn didnot come yesterday, its today, my panel is ready, lets see how it goes..fingers crossed.

Feb 13, 17 8:39 pm
Maleeha Khan Durrani


        my presentation did not go well, they want me to explore more about the idea of camouflage...and they want me to clear my self...eventhough i was trying to clarify them that iv gone through everything. 

Feb 14, 17 6:36 am

bummer, but more exploration as a comment is a good comment. it could be worse. maybe less research and more designing? (exploring)

Feb 14, 17 7:40 am
Maleeha Khan Durrani

chris, they are asking me to look at camouflage in a braoder perspecctive, and then narrow down stuff...and i am going crazy.....chris, they don't want me to make anti terrorist architecture....they want something more towards sustainable paradigms, like marshal house in Australia.

i am trying to understand that why am i not focused...and i am thinking to fix a ''site''....because if the site is fixed my research will mould in that direction and then i can use camouflaging as a technique...

there is an island chris, that island is known as churna island, and that actually serves as a platform for snorkelling, scuba diving and other water sports activity...what if i talk directly about facilitating that remote island users by sustainable means and in that sustainibility factor i accomodate the idea of camouflaging architecture in that rock..cuz its just a rock.....people gather there through ships..climb that up and hold different activites.

waiting for your rep...also give me ideas to look at the idea of hidden or semi hidden nature of architecture in a broader perspective.

Maleeha Khan Durrani

churna island

Feb 14, 17 8:05 am
Maleeha Khan Durrani

waiting for your reply chris...shed some light....

Feb 14, 17 8:13 am

your topic made me think of Jewish synagogues. After the diaspora, Jewish communities were spread throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, etc. Their synagogues adapted to the local architectural style in order to blend in. In many places there was discrimination or persecution so this was important. (I'm not sure if they fooled anyone but the adoption of local style helped them fit in).

Later on, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Europe for example, Jewish synagogues became much more like Christian churches in configuration and grandeur. Another adaptation to local culture.

Feb 21, 17 11:54 am

can we see some progress work?

Feb 22, 17 7:18 am
Maleeha Khan Durrani

chris, my topic is now camouflaging architecture with nature (sustainable paradigms)like the marshal house Australia, and now by camouflaging means 'to blend' visually and contextually, and chris, i am failing to develop the internal says you topic is fine but then how to develop the research and explore...he is not even allowing me to choose a site...he says explore your topic...i dont know this is so killing me ...because i am not progressing... they ask why camouflage i tell them that we have become the greatest threat to nature by leaving our foot prints everywhere, and i told him that when ever we build in natural settings, natures integrity becomess by far more important...and our architecture only serves as a service provider....i feel like killing myself... i am only having 1 month for my research....i studies geoffery bawa, tadao ando,.... i also studied biomimicry....but i dont know why my research is not developing..


he's still waiting for your light...

Feb 22, 17 8:14 am
Maleeha Khan Durrani

anyone of you who can suggest me that i should study this this and etc.....

this is one of the site...its juniper forest in ziarat pakistan....this is world heritage site....the whole point is that these forests are depleting because the local villagers use wood for cooking purposes....and there is nothing to look after i was thinking that on this beautiful, ecological site what if i build a research and training centre for the local villagers where they can get trained etc and also a centre where they can guide tourists and can provide tourist a resting space..

i only need strong reasons for justifying camouflaging? why camouflage??????this question is..huh .... i am soooo fedup....

why chosing this site why not other why nature and camouflage.....

Feb 22, 17 8:41 am
Maleeha Khan Durrani

chris you are such an expierenced architect, cant you just help me in carrying forward my thesis???? 

Feb 22, 17 8:43 am
Non Sequitur

If thesis work and research was this easy, we'd all have 8 Phds to our names.

Sounds like you're trying to use architecture to solve a social problem and if that doesn't hit home, perhaps a series of moats will do the trick.

Feb 22, 17 8:54 am
Maleeha Khan Durrani

i know it is not that have to struggle alot


There's no shame in failing.

Feb 22, 17 9:00 am
Maleeha Khan Durrani

needs lots of courage to fail..


You seem well on your way, maybe some distance and reflection will do you good.


Or just pay for some consults by Metamechanics LLC :)

Feb 22, 17 9:13 am
Maleeha Khan Durrani

I have to do it on my the way architects here advise for free...they say your topic is interesting, but prove it by any means...

Non Sequitur

Interesting does not mean much.

Maleeha Khan Durrani

yes ofcourse


who do i bil? we take paypal


Interesting topic.  Ive talked about the insidious nature of "camouflage" in suburban strip malls.  The idea of blending in seems out of sinc and counter intuitive with the idea of advertisement, but in fact, the masking of the corporate disconnection to place is a very successful tactic in suburban big box strip malls.  The illusion of a big box grocery store being of the place somehow guards against negative health connotations and the fact that this breed of business is a fairly recent (a few decades) invasive species on american small businesses...

Feb 22, 17 2:15 pm

That reminds me of the BEST Products stores by SITE/James Wines.

its one thing to shoot ideas around and brainstorm, for free no problem. its another thing to do research, we can tell you what to study for free but cannot tell you when to stop... and to actually execute your work, no. execute some work, see what happens.

Feb 22, 17 4:44 pm
Maleeha Khan Durrani

chris iv finally started working on biomimicry....all cool now..

Mar 9, 17 10:45 pm

Why not archimimicry, design nature to look and perform like architecture and make a gesammtkunstwerk out of it?

Mar 10, 17 5:10 am

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