Hidden in Plain Site

Beijing is a world-class boomtown, throwing up new buildings at a staggering pace. While traveling around the city observing all this raging architectural growth one can’t help but be intrigued by the way a kind of urban camouflage is being employed to hide all the activity. 

As you can see in these pictures, large format photographic/digital images are printed onto an all-weather material and wrapped around the construction sites. These wrap-around prints often operate as a kind of large scale Trompe-l’œil piece, portraying the site prior to the demolition.


In other cases they depict what the site will look like following completion of the construction. This is more in line with the billboards you often see in western cities at the site of new development. 


One could speculate that this practice is intended to soften the psychological blow of the lost architectural and personal history. Or perhaps it’s just a pragmatic means to hide an eyesore. Whatever the case, this practice creates strange moments of dissonance and make one wonder what other ways this technology might be employed.


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Categories: Print-related

3 Responses to “Hidden in Plain Site”

  1. Lou says:

    I’ll have to look through, but I think I have some images from Venice of buildings on the grand canal that are an exact replica of the building being renovated, so they’re more of a one-shot deal (unless they reuse them in random non-touristy cities, which could also be interesting..)

    When I was there, 2004-05, there was also a new one that went up with the building image, but then one single ad in the center, for the (then) upcoming winter olympics, which seemed to throw off the whole idea.

    And also there was the clock tower to the left of San Marco, that used to have the image of the clock tower, but maybe out of boredom they started alternating out images of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and the Empire State Building. WEIRD.

  2. Lou says:

    Follow up!


    They seem to be in a hurry, so not as much image-based walls- but another angle…

  3. […] the form of vinyl signage. Amze mentioned this tromp-l’œil approach to urban camouflage in his Hidden in Plain Site […]