Arguably one of the most well-known fictional characters of all time, Sherlock Holmes is a detective with a highly distinctive personality imagined by author Arthur Conan Doyle. His popularity increased further with the success of the various television adaptations centred around the character. It can be interesting to consider how such an iconic personality might translate into the field of architecture. So, in this article, let’s take a look at how Sherlock’s unique characteristics would shape his work if he were to be an architect.

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Sherlock Holmes: Character Overview 

Sherlock Holmes works as the world’s only consulting detective- a job which he created for himself. He studies crimes in great detail and possesses unparalleled observation skills- a talent that would undoubtedly give him the potential to become an architect with wonderful attention to design details. Overarchingly, he has a strong personality that is fairly unusual and is misunderstood by some. His mind is his most powerful tool, yet he also occasionally demonstrates a more emotional side which sees him caring for others, particularly victims involved in the mysteries he solves. 

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Portrait of Sherlock Holmes by Sidney Paget _©Sidney Paget

Approach to Architecture

Due to Holmes’ intense passion for his role as a detective, he would likely demonstrate a similar work ethic if he were to be an architect. He is always devoted to learning more as a lifelong pupil of crime studies, which would imply that he would carry a strong desire to keep learning new skills as an architect. Sherlock Holmes seems to gain energy from working on crimes that fascinate him. In this case, he would likely seek to work on architectural projects that align with his values and bring him similar excitement. 

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Sherlock is primarily presented as a keen observer and thinker. With such faultless attention to detail and a remarkable ability to understand cases at a deeper level, his approach to work as an architect would probably involve rigorous consideration of the needs of his clients, the qualities of the sites, and the purposes each building needs to serve. As a detective, he is very proficient at remembering details and mentally organizing information. Both these talents would certainly see him thrive as an architect who would ensure that his structures are built to the highest of standards, even down to the smallest of details.

Architectural Projects

In terms of the projects he would take on as an architect, Sherlock’s work would likely be fairly varied in the same manner that’s demanded by his job as a detective. Although he can often seem to some like a cold-hearted, distanced man, Sherlock Holmes definitely does possess a more caring side, especially in crime-related settings. Hence, it is possible that he would lean towards socially beneficial work as an architect, working to improve the lives of people facing difficulties. 

Most obviously, he is an immensely creative character who is able to efficiently generate new ideas based upon the information he can recall about a case. This quality would serve him well in the field of architecture: architects must be creative and draw upon their capacity to imagine new concepts that are relevant to whatever project they are working on. Besides his creativity, though, Sherlock Holmes boasts a certain air of seriousness. Part of his personality is rather rational and a little more reserved. With such rationality and logic, there is a possibility that he may take a more conservative approach to designing buildings, sticking to the styles and techniques that feel more safe and familiar to him.

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Comparisons to Existing Projects

So, what are some examples of existing structures which might be similar to the ones that Sherlock Holmes would design? Well, there are of course endless possibilities, and it is impossible to know for certain what his style as an architect would be. But considering how incredibly creative his mind is, we can presume that his structures would be ambitious, innovative, and visually exciting. One structure which is reflective of his high level of creativity is the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center, designed by NBBJ in collaboration with CCDI. 

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Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center _©NBBJ

The curved, modern shell of the stadium is an ambitious architectural statement composed of large, curved elements that lend the site a visually exciting atmosphere. It is very likely that Sherlock would design structures that are similarly engaging and creative since he is skilled in imagining new concepts and taking new approaches to his job.

Another iconic quality that Sherlock Holmes possesses is his attention to detail. This might translate into his work as an architect, prompting him to design highly decorated, visually intricate buildings. The Tianjin Binhai Library, designed by MVRDV and Tianjin Urban Planning and Design Institute (TUPDI), is one building that reflects this significant level of creative detailing. Built in 2017, the structure carries a motif of intricate curves and ovals throughout. Sherlock would be likely to design such a building with a unique aesthetic and small yet beautiful details.

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Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center _©NBBJ

Although truly it is impossible to know exactly what types of structures Sherlock would design as an architect, it is clear that his style would be an interesting one. Driven by his creativity and attention to detail, he would design buildings that challenged the boundaries of the field, in the same way that his fictional investigatory work is innovative and unique. 

REFERENCES LIST

Paget, S. (1904). Sherlock Holmes – an Illustration by Sidney Paget. 

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Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center. [online]. Available at: http://www.nbbj.com/work/hangzhou-stadium/ [Accessed 16 October 2021]. 

Tianjin Binhai Library. [online]. Available at: https://www.mvrdv.nl/projects/246/tianjin-binhai-library [Accessed 16 October 2021]. 

Author

Katie is an architecture student, writer, and lover of words. She envisions a future in which the positive impacts that buildings can have on humans and our planet are prioritised, and hopes to harness the power of language to amplify the stories being whispered through the world of design.

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