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  1.  (1348.1)
    Well, this is a things magazine idea about the end of architecture (a good idea, indeed). Look the pictures below:







    This is a concepts for Dubai new buildings (more pictures and a good article here). So, look now the picture below:



    The image above is from here. There are some resemblances with the fictional reigns of SF and the virtual (real in some years from now) serious and highly expensive urban projects, I think.

    The problem (as things magazine places) is: is this the end of architecture? The form/functional heaven of Modern Style, in this case.

    Today, the role of modern architecture seems to begin and end with a statement of intent, in this case a terrifyingly literal imposition of science fiction values into the real world. Increasingly, whenever renders are used to whip up a social, cultural or political idyll, detail is subsumed beneath a rosy glow of reflected sunlight on shimmering water and glassy facades, more an indication of advanced rendering techniques than architectural innovation.
  2.  (1348.2)
    Urban planning is seductive but almost impossible. The fact of the private ownership of land will always mean that our cities will be chaotic, mismatched, unplanned, and alive. It'd take a dictatorship to raze a whole city and build everything from scratch, and while that would be pretty, I think the cost in liberty would be a bit too high for me.

    That said, I'm guilty too - witness this:

  3.  (1348.3)
    Science fiction and architecture have danced with one another for a very long time. One of the oldest examples are The Prisons prints of Giovanni Battista Piranesi from the 18th century. These fictional renderings are tremendous compositions of space and form, light and shadow, structure and technology…imaginary worlds for the journey of your eye. Architects (I being one of them) love to debate and study the significance of Piranesi’s drawings. Although the spaces are evocative, they are also dripping with melancholy and darkness given the subject matter. Thus, are they spaces any architect would even want to recreate despite being attracted to their dramatic nature?

    What is it about the proposed buildings for Dubai that make them any more “science fiction” than the offhand reactions people may have had to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in NYC or Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum Berlin or Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp?
    Is it their materiality…the pervasive use of steel and glass? Is it their form and shape? Is it the impact of their form and space upon their function or vice versa? Architectural form has always been rife with metaphor (whether it be overt, subtle, or concealed) throughout history so I don’t particular think these renderings are any different.

    Or is it simply the “Death Star” label attributed to the spheres? Yes, someday our generation has got to GET OVER Star Wars. Regardless, maybe the reason we’re so suspicious of these spheres are because 1. They sadly do look like straight up copies of the DS and 2. The relationship of their form and function is very cryptic.

    On the other hand, the Death Star might be one of the most brilliant fictional designs of minimalist and purist modernist architecture….an technological abstraction of a planet/moon…its equator clearly defined…its eye/crater traditionally depicted “off-center” (yes that makes no sense because it’s a sphere...i couldn’t think of any other way to describe it). Maybe that’s why people can’t let it go when they look at these renderings? And I for the life of me can’t remember the design artist responsible for the Death Star.

    In any case, our fascination with inhabiting and constructing spheres is a long one. This site shows a brief quick rundown of some examples. A Minor History of Giant Spheres
    And even older civilizations have attempted to embody a sphere, whether it be the Romans, Anasazi, Mayans, or even stone circles like Stonehenge.

    But back to present day, the architectural development of Dubai is definitely frenzied. Many institutions (municipal, academic, business) in the world have behaved in a similar manner and still are…going after Star-chitects to give them signature buildings for their downtown or campus or the image of their company, expecting them to be markers of success. Sometimes they succeed…sometimes they fail miserably. The somewhat “blank-slate” and hordes of cash being offered for Dubai presents a playground for these architects and planners. The environmental as well as the urban consequences of having no restraint may or may not be considered by some or any of them. I’d like to spend more time reviewing each one to see what they’re all about.
  4.  (1348.4)
    Oh and another thing...most architects are too ego-driven to admit that they've been influenced by science fiction...as though it's a dirty-word...which is preposterous as far as i'm concerned.
  5.  (1348.5)
    Has everyone forgotten Eugene Tsui already?
  6.  (1348.6)
    Cripes.
    Clearly i did!
    Thanks for the reminder, Warren.

    (probably half of my instructors way back when would frown upon his work but screw 'em)
  7.  (1348.7)
    Everyone frowned on Tsui, but that never seemed to stop him. I love his work -- but, then, I do view his work as speculative fiction.
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeMar 11th 2008
     (1348.8)
    I look at that Dubai proposal and all I can think is "The Old Ones awaken".
    •  
      CommentAuthorsynthsapien
    • CommentTimeMar 12th 2008 edited
     (1348.9)
    More Tsui work here

    Although the arcitechture in Dubai is amazing (one of my favourites being the Dubai skyscraper with rotating floors), I can't help thinking of the contrast with the workers lives - living in huts alongside, no pay for months, poor safety, etc. Historically I guess most major city developments have been built on the blood of the builders.
  8.  (1348.10)
    Although the arcitechture in Dubai is amazing (one of my favourites being the Dubai skyscraper with rotating floors), I can't help thinking of the contrast with the workers lives

    That is, of course, if they get past the airport police, who are paid by the arrest and throw people into jail for having suspicious-looking dirt on their shoes. Or Asian features.
    •  
      CommentAuthornigredo
    • CommentTimeMar 12th 2008
     (1348.11)
    Apparently it is often the case that builders fall of the high buildings under construction from long exposure to the sun and the extreme heat...
  9.  (1348.12)
    I recently went to malaysia, and was pretty wowed by the twin towers. They really did look like something out of a science fiction. Personally I'm all for that sort of design.
    Might be a useless gesture, but in terms of forward looking architecture I'd like to throw in some gaudi. Possibly a pioneer of how people visualise science fiction architecture in the first place.

    Crazy man designed the sagrada familia upside down using weights on string.
  10.  (1348.13)
    Although the arcitechture in Dubai is amazing (one of my favourites being the Dubai skyscraper with rotating floors), I can't help thinking of the contrast with the workers lives

    That is, of course, if they get past the airport police, who are paid by the arrest and throw people into jail for having suspicious-looking dirt on their shoes. Or Asian features.


    Yeah, good to hear Cat Le Huy got released a few days ago.
    •  
      CommentAuthorVespers
    • CommentTimeMar 13th 2008
     (1348.14)
    It'd take a dictatorship to raze a whole city and build everything from scratch, and while that would be pretty, I think the cost in liberty would be a bit too high for me.


    Uh... Like Napoleon and (half of) Paris? It burned first, I suppose. Worked for him, though. As much as anything in his crazy crazy life did. In other words, it has been done. And could happen again; I wouldn't put it past some type to, uh, 'arrange' for a fire/flood/such disaster that would require the razing and rebuild of a major city. Just a thought.

    A fun thought. *ponders*
  11.  (1348.15)
    Inspired by Warren Ellis remembrance of Tsui works (his megaprojects are really amazing) and the Paul Duffield post about Gaudi's works, I made some researches on the topic about the origins of this kind of architecture with some speculative/fiction/narrative aspects, pushing the construction ways and materials. The Futurist and Expressionist projects, besides the examples mentioned above, are the great forefathers in these field. Creators like Antonio Sant'Elia:







    This utopian projects had few points in common with "Modern Style" (the buildings by Le Corbusier or Walter Gropius, for example), pure and strict (perhaps authoritarian) functional things. Curious thing: the Sant'Elia works never jump from the project plan, works only as fictional and visual tour de force.
  12.  (1348.16)
    Vespers writes:

    Uh... Like Napoleon and (half of) Paris? It burned first, I suppose. Worked for him, though. As much as anything in his crazy crazy life did. In other words, it has been done. And could happen again; I wouldn't put it past some type to, uh, 'arrange' for a fire/flood/such disaster that would require the razing and rebuild of a major city. Just a thought.


    Well... now that you mention it, there's most of New Orleans to consider, if you don't mind how long it lasts.
    •  
      CommentAuthorDoc Ocassi
    • CommentTimeMar 13th 2008
     (1348.17)
    Regarding Dictatorships creating cities look to Burma where the ruling junta declared a new capital on a greenfield site.

    Naypyidaw: Abode of Kings in a Derelict Kingdom

    But I wouldn't expect progressive architectural endeavours from a dictatorship, not nowadays, when human rights has become the issue that it is.
  13.  (1348.18)
    In the U.S., the closest we ever came was the Greenbelt projects of the 1930s. I once got an email from someone who worked at the one surviving Greenbelt community and I was amazed that it still existed.
    •  
      CommentAuthormadmatt213
    • CommentTimeMar 13th 2008
     (1348.19)
    This thread is my first exposure to Eugene Tsui's "Ultima" Tower. The old Maxis-published game SimTower quickly came to mind when I checked out Warren's link. I sure loved that game...
    • CommentAuthorMrD
    • CommentTimeMar 14th 2008
     (1348.20)
    After all the problems in the past here in the UK with concrete then metal and glass structures becoming outmoded and looking plain ugly within months or years at the latest, we are perhaps lucky to have people who care about our architecture and lean on the right people to ensure we aren't overgrown with horrific structures. Who said having a monarchy is outmoded? Prince Charles' experience with architecture isn't stunting us but protecting us! It'll be in someone else's backyard these monstrosities go up thankfully.

    My city, nothing can be built above three stories and attic/roof space. The view of the Cathedral must not be hindered. Of course, being a major tourist driven city we don't then expect as residents to stay in a timewarp for the sake of the visiting tourists! One day I'll figure the name out of that Brit scifi novel that left an image behind of the US extending its anti missile shield over us and in return we became a giant Disneyland like tourist location, with people going to their jobs in almost period dress to please the dollar waiving saviours!