Vertical design: 75 fascinating architectural leaning plaques

Written by By Jørgen Blaje, CNN Singapore

Peering up at a leaning tower of residence from the air, a curious sight brings you almost straight to the top. But there’s a twist: it’s a wooden signpost.

Traditionally, leaning is a design flourish of the Dutch — and it’s not restricted to single-ton buildings. Similar wooden posts leaning over precipitous cliffs like the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the Tower of Babel at Tbilisi, Georgia, demonstrate just how far some ingenious architects go in creating amazing geometric patterns with concrete.

1 / 22 Malaysia’s Rata Watari follows a tradition of leaning plaques for floating architectural structures. Credit: Rata Watari

The practice of leaning, or Salzschichte, was developed during the Dutch Golden Age in that it took the practice of balancing beams on the outside of tall buildings — such as horizontal plazas — and adapted it to the angle and angle of the new locations.

“Laying down an elaborate foundation beam is a sort of balancing act that needs to be conducted to balance the beam up,” reads the inscription on the Dutch Signpost Foundation’s handout, giving the history of the practice.

“In the development of traditional British architectural design and engineering skills by the 17th century, the leaning post took over from the planked beam. As we know today from old photographs, there was a considerable number of small leaning postages in the walls, in windows and in balconies,” the same foundation document says.

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