WHAT architecture - London

Temple of Laughter

ecclesiastic entertainment space
Scale1 sqm
LocationSanta Monica - LA - US
ClientChurch of Scientology
Design Year1994

This architecture as art project was seen in AD, Quaderns, Tel Aviv Museum of Art and was awarded a special jury prize by Eric Own Moss, Thom Mayne and Wolf Prix. The following text was first published in AD Architecture + Water. The project removes material from an existing building and transforms it into another object and inspired the Rue de Rome refurbishment project in Paris.


Laughter is the residue from a collapsed construction be it a story or of many storeys

The joke establishes a story for it to collapse with the punch line

Laughter then is the consummation of this collapse

From a condemned structure, a floor board, one seeks to bring down the House


The object in transit is locatable but has no location

Its precinct is always the present

The object does however have a site within which it is enclosed, the Envelope, and, if appropriately wrapped, the object will be the Present

The present arrives through the post

Yet until opened it doesn’t belong anywhere or to anyone

It is an intention under wraps unseen and open only to speculation

The Envelope exposes the irony of opening

Once the ties are cut the site is tied to a precinct

Being of the floor in NW5 and on a flaw in LA


As required the object is double wrapped

The Envelope doubles as a poster advertising a competition, which is a Double

The Temple of Laughter competition is held in England and due April Fool’s Day

As in Dostoevsky’s double, THE END UP collapses notions of the authentic and the impostor

Each entry received for THE END UP is an echo of another competition

The sound of this echo is laughter


The entry submission hinges on the competition requirements and their subsequent collapse

The competition envelope describes a 12”x12”x12” model and a 36”x36” drawing.

Anything beyond the Envelope is outside the site boundaries

The model is able to collapse into a drawing

One finds it preferable then to build a drawing than to draw a building.

Any Temple of Laughter is thus rendered laughable

The model comprises of 26 boxes, one for each letter of the alphabet so that each letter is assigned a Letter Box

A missing 27th central box is reserved for the grammatical period, the full stop

When connected these letters make words and ultimately comprise sentences

Such as those found in competition rules, adhered to the letter and worshipped like shrines

Without a period a story becomes an interminable sentence.

A life sentence where one man.s laughter is another manslaughter