You might have come across the myth about Potemkin and his fake villages. Potemkin, a Russian military leader of the 18th century, prompted his crew to build pleasing settlements in order to impress Russian Empress Catherine the Great during her journey through the newly annexed areas along the Dnieper River.
Sometimes I remember this story when walking through Moscow’s city center. It is a common sight that sites of ongoing renovations or construction works are covered by large hoarding banners that display a CAD-drawn façade printed on it. Here also, the banners aim to make the city look nicer. This move however is not just performed for a visiting statesman or such. It is for everybody.
The sites showcasing banners of this sort differ greatly, but mostly inherit historic buildings. Generally, not only large and prestigious renovations and exposed locations are wrapped up in their imprinted blankets. Also small and relatively unremarkable buildings find themselves decorated. Besides covering ongoing construction works, the banners also mask some rather ruinous sites that had not seen any construction activity in years. Taking a closer look, you sometimes come across a clear mismatch of image and the built reality behind it. In some cases however, the drawings give a pretty accurate idea of what you are going to expect after the revelation. Especially in locations of great public interest the 1:1 scale drawings spark discussions.
It was a rather funny thing to see that in some cases the mock-up facades attract real graffiti. In some cases the banners even seemed to be cherished enough to have the graffiti painted over. To me, those graffiti tags are rather organic elements helping to ground the sometimes alien looking banners and adopt them into the streets. Have look at some of the favorites I found.
Berlin & Tallinn
Architect, Writer, Explorer, Metrokit Pioneer;
Has lived in: Braunschweig, Bremen, Liverpool, Vancouver, London, Moscow and now Tallinn.