Luckily a large number of people seem to have come to similar observations. Bernard Hulsman, an architectural critic offers an explanation for them. ‘Under the influence of Freudians, who have the tendency to see a phallus in everything that is longer than it is wide, skyscrapers get called erections of capital.’ Apparently Freud himself once compared the acquisition of wealth to building a monument to your penis. But I am not sure if I can personally blame Freud for this one though.
Surprisingly the matter even has its own Wikipedia article, titled: Phallic Architecture. Wikipedia informs me that intentional phallic architecture was very common in cultures like those of the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Cultures whose architecture had quite the influence on the present day. And indeed, Wikipedia agrees with me, there are many examples of modern architecture that can be interpreted as phallic.
Wikipedia also tells me that in art and architecture in general verticality is seen as a symbol of masculinity, horizontality as more feminine. Here we get to the problem of our age-old tradition of phallic architecture. Sociologists and feminists have pointed out that large skyscrapers can be seen as symbols of male domination. Towers could unintentionally or subconsciously have these connotations that we do not want to perpetuate. In the future it is perhaps better to avoid the phallic skyscraper.
Maybe architects from now on should take better care to avoid a possible comparison to penises. Norman Foster, you know what you did. Calling it the gherkin won’t help. BIG should maybe change their websites URL, even though I think the www.big.dk is very fitting for them.
Lastly we have to pay our respect to the one modern example of a building resembling a vagina that I know. A Dezeen commentator called it a: ‘vagina in a sea of penises.’ Zaha Hadid’s Al-Wakrah stadium in Qatar offers a well needed alternative to the phallic architecture that so very common in the region. Unfortunately Hadid did not appreciate the comparison. But the mind will see what it sees, maybe it will change with age.