Blank walls, not so blank

Side walls are a canvas on which anything can be drawn, you name it.

This is certainly not a new concept unveiled by a trendy street artist, for example, the trompe l’oeil technique was used as early as the medieval time and flourished throughout the Renaissance especially on churches’ walls. On a less spiritual note, walls were also used in our growing capitalist societies using ghost signs (hand-painted advertisements on blank walls of buildings) to promote businesses, from the local butcher to Coca-Cola. These have now been replaced by printed ads on walls or gigantic screens on top of roofs. And sometimes walls are simply left blank…
Coca-Cola ghost sign
Mural by Robert Hass (1975)
Fake facades
Yes, too often naked walls sit sadly on a boundary waiting patiently for another wall to be built next door, but how long can this take? And who wants to stare at a plain concrete façade for years? (Maybe Le Corbusier would have enjoyed the view of such a façade!)

All walls have a purpose and when they are not used to provide amenity to the residents of a building, they can mesmerise the eyes of local pedestrians or tell us a story.

Breathing life into a wall is not an easy task however there are a multitude of techniques and materials out there which will add a touch of eccentricity to a conventional development, brighten a gloomy rundown building or completely transform a streetscape. Even concrete has managed to win us back by offering some original designs and take the idea a step further.

Photoengraving - Edison residence
Montreal designers came up with the innovative technique of photoengraving images on concrete using original blank and white photographs of Montreal’s fire department and juxtaposing them on the walls of a residential building (

No more excuses for boring blank façades!


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