Jürgen Mayer H. and Philip Ursprung want to locate a new architectural paradigm. “Cosmic Latte” shows the big in the small— and the small in the big. It is a cosmology of the architecture of our time. 

Cosmic Latte


Exhibition venue:
Chicago Architecture Biennial 2017

Architecture Beige Manifesto by Jürgen Mayer H. & Philip Ursprung


After the modernist paradigm of white architecture, the built environment today is characterized by the “off-white” of beige architecture. Beige is not radical and purist like white, it is moderating and popular. Beige assists formal nuances, games with materials, responses to the rural and urban context, and adaptations to the past. But while beige acts as an emblem of harmony and deconflictualization in architecture, it is omnipresent in the media
as the color of violence in images of war-torn desert regions and of the destruction of monuments from the dawn of Western civilization. While the color of war was the grey of the trenches in World War I, the red of burning cities in World War II, the green of the jungle in the Vietnam War, since the 1980s it has been the color of sand, or beige, from the Gulf War to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

Where does beige come from? According to the Oxford Dictionary,
it is rooted in French and is “of unknown ultimate origin.” And yet it is a universal color. In 2002 astronomers Karl Glazebrook and Ivan Baldry first described the color of the universe as a “pale turquoise,” but then as “light beige,” having discovered an error in the white balance. After a survey for name suggestions, they agreed on “Cosmic Latte.” The universe is beige.
We want to expand the horizon of the architectural discussion and visualize the inner contradictions inscribed into the seemingly smooth facades of our buildings, from developer architecture to experimental projects. We do not want to join in the lament of the homogenization of the built environment but quite optimistically show the potential of architecture. We want to locate a new architectural paradigm. “Cosmic Latte” shows the big in the small— and the small in the big. It is a cosmology of the architecture of our time.


Architecture Beige Manifesto: Jürgen Mayer H. and Philip Ursprung

Partner in charge:
Jürgen Mayer H.

Wilko Hoffmann
Jared Trillhaase

Bruce Damonte

“Cosmic Latte: Architecture Beige Manifesto” is based on the design research studio “Beige” that Jürgen Mayer H. and Marc Kushner taught at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, New York in 2004. In 2014, “Beige” developed into a larger installation at Galerie Judin in Berlin as part of the group show How Soon is Now.
In 2015 Jürgen Mayer H.’s and Philip Ursprung’s proposal “Cosmic Latte: The Universe is Beige” with Armin Linke, Isabel Mundry and Wermke/Leinkauf & Henke was a finalist for the German Pavilion at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. For the Chicago Architecture Biennial 2017 the theme is articulated as a manifesto on today’s architecture and involves students from ETH Zürich and Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design.


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Conversion of a private residence