Faux Facades: Fake Buildings Hide Trains, Power & More
Article by Urbanist, filed under Public & Institutional in the Architecture category.

fake urban architecture

When is a building not a building? When it is only a facade, (aka) dummy! You might have passed right by train tunnels, communications towers or even entirely empty buildings and never realized you were being duped – until now.

Underground Train Passage & Ventilation in Rowhouse

fake architecture underground venting

Consider units 23 & 24, Leinster Gardens in Paddington, London. When underground rail was routed through the neighborhood in the 1860s, the residences at those addresses were razed … and replaced with a very convincing facade. Behind it: an empty void for the old engines to vent along their route, and metal bracing to help hold up adjacent structures. Hoaxes played on this place include everything from the pizza-delivery redirect to a prankster selling tickets to a charity ball at the address.

Subway Emergency Exit & Energy Converter in Townhouse

fake building over subway

One more urban ventilator before we move on: 58 Joralemon Street in Brooklyn, New York follows a similar pattern to its British brethren – blacked-out windows are the only up-close giveaway to an otherwise-complete illusion of occupation, while the railway runs below. This faux building has had multiple subway-related purposes beyond ventilation, though, including electrical conversion and emergency egress.

Power Substations in Houses, Offices, Factories & Castles

fake building power substations

Toronto has a century-long history of hiding its urban energy substations as all kinds of architecture, from small single-family homes to huge block-sized factory buildings, at addresses including 29 Nelson Street, 2833 Yonge Street & 640 Millwood Road. Some have caught fire in freak accidents – not something the neighbors like to worry about. Others have been decommissioned and converted to residential or commercial use, in a strange instance of life imitating the art of imitation.

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