A Mythical Form of Storytelling

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Hello Nature3

Hello Nature




Hello Nature

Hello Nature




Hello Nature1

Hello Nature




Hello Nature3

Hello Nature




Whispers to Washington - ( conceptual ground )3

Whispers to Washington – ( conceptual ground )




Whispers to Washington - ( conceptual ground )4

Whispers to Washington – ( conceptual ground )




The Lucas Museum

The Lucas Museum




The Lucas Museum 2

The Lucas Museum




The Lucas Museum 4

The Lucas Museum

The Lucas Museum 3




Fairy tales

Fairy tales




LA Piazza del pentrice

La Piazza del Pentrice




LA Piazza del pentrice2

La Piazza del Pentrice




A Mythical Form of Storytelling


Chicago Underground Practice





Who inspires your graphically?

Étienne-Louis Boullée is our favourite influence for two reasons.

  1. Boullée’s three types of architecture are amazing…buried, naked and an architecture of shadows.
  2. Boullée’s sense of scale is represented in a very matter of the fact way….as if any of his projects are normal, but they are far from that.


What role does monochrome hold in your architectural representations?

In almost all of our presentations & representations there is some form of monochromatic imagery. Monochromatic renderings as a classical form of architecture has an extremely long history, and we can only wish to be part of its traditions.


How does the fish eye rendering help you in exploring your proposal? Does it add a level of depth and dimensionality that the axonometric lacks?

Fisheye rendering are part of our process. At the very beginning of a project we begin viewing the site via fisheyes to inform our building proposals.The projects we propose use the fisheye as a utopian viewpoint, not unlike axonometric…but, the fisheye distorts as a fantasy come true, acting to impart our vision for work which lives in the minds of viewers.

How does the distortion provided by this lens work in your favour? 

The extreme distortion is our desire to see/view architecture as a mythical form of storytelling. Our projects are stories which the fisheye lens displays the storyteller’s point of view.

In another way, we are branding ourselves and our drawings via the fisheye lens.

To what extent does your photography work relate to your illustrations technique, are they mutually exclusive?

The photography work & imagery is a first step toward rethinking any of our current and future projects. We almost exclusively photography structures we see as endangered species. In many ways, we are part radical historical preservationist and part archivist with our photography.



C_UP was founded in 1998 as a design collaborative. Fumanelli & Surjan’s partnership began in 2012 and is currently known as Chicago Underground Practice.

S. Hjelte Fumanelli is digital design chair at C_UP.  Ms. Fumanelli received her B.Arch degree from Illinois Institute of Technology and is currently a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee.

T. Joseph Surjan is Founding Chair at C_UP. Mr. Surjan has taught at eight universities, including SCI-Arc, UCLA, Virginia Tech and most recently University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. Mr. Surjan received his M.Arch degree from Columbia University.

Fumanelli & Surjan’s work for C_UP has won the It’s Liquid 2nd International Contest for Illustration. Their photography work has been exhibited at the Center for American Architecture & Design. C_UP placed in Reimagine the Astrodome which was published in the Architect’s Newspaper. C_UP’s story “Ivy Girl & the Cloverleaf” was published in the first edition of FAIRY TALES: WHEN ARCHITECTURE TELLS A STORY.

Ms. Fumanelli and Mr. Surjan are currently working on two books : “A Drawing Manifesto” & “Crimes of Architecture”.



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