Death Star Architecture Around the Globe

It’s a case of life imitating art as Death Stars sprout around the globe and the inevitable struggle between competing Galactic Empires will surely annihilate the planet. Rem Koolhaas strikes first with a new scheme for Dubai. It’s like Manhattan…but way more futuristic and in the desert:

Development for Dubai by OMA

The 44-story sphere is actually a “a self-contained three-dimensional urban neighborhood” containing smaller spheres joined together by a series of tubes. As is their nature, OMA seem to be establishing a new intra-office archetype (quick, call the patent office!), as this scheme is not entirely dissimilar from the one they visited with the RAK Convention and Exhibition Centre…


Truck Commercial Architecture pt 2

Truck commercials and football go together like…well, truck commercials and football. Therefore, it was no surprise to see a few more choice examples of my favorite new absurb architectural ephemera, “Truck Commercial Architecture,” during Superbowl Sunday. First up is the truck centrifuge, where a truck (For you car guys, I believe it’s a “red one”) is swung around by its bumper in a monumental industrial centrifuge:

Both completely sublime and completely ridiculous, it’s like these car companies have hired Etienne Boullee to art-direct their commercials. Notice how it says “closed centrifuge” at the bottom of the screen? This is no “dramatized testing demonstration” like the truck coliseum in last week’s post. This is real. And this truck has some serious bumpers.

Next up, in a Nissan Testing Facility hidden away in some deep underground bunker (probably below the desert), two giant robot arms shake the hell out of a couple of trucks.

Although I know it’s probably too good to be true, I’m hoping this one’s real because the idea of Nissan building an enormous underground chamber for the explicit purpose of holding two giant robot arms completely amazes me and fills me with hope. I’ve had enough of commercial storefronts and residential remodels; its time to design some Nissan testing facilities or Gundam prototype bunkers, dammit.

&#183 Truck Commercial Architecture pt 1 [Life Without Buildings]


Lebbeus Woods and 12 Monkeys

lebbeus woods 12 monkeys
left: still from 12 Monkeys, right: Lebbeus Woods’s Neomechanical Tower

This is old news (circa 1995), but I think it’s pretty interesting. During his lecture last week, Lebbeus Woods mentioned that he had filed a lawsuit against architect-beloved film director, Terry Gilliam. Someone in the production crew for 12 Monkeys decided to base one of their sets on Woods’ illustration Neomechanical Tower (upper) chamber.

Down to the last detail, it’s almost exactly the same. Woods, however, said that he was more upset about Gilliam’s interpretation of the image than the appropriation of it. In the film, the chair was used as a torture device and although it does look somewhat insidious, Woods actually intended the room to be ambiguous in nature. Is it a seat of punishment or a seat of authority? Why couldn’t this be where The Philosopher sits as he ponders the world with his mechanized globe?

The court ruled that the film must remove the footage but Woods allowed it to remain, happy with the financial settlement. And from what I hear, he should be.

I’m reminded of the “What Dreams May Come,” a film with sets based on Etienne-Boullee designs. And then there’s the Jedi Archives in Episode II – an exact replica of the The Old Library of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. What other film sets have been inspired by real-world works of architecture?

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Norman Foster has Boullee on the mind

norman foster
Norman Foster’s rendering of Asanta’s center for religious understanding.

Nursultan Nazarbayev is the President of Kazakhstan. He has more money than he knows what to do with and no political opposition, so naturally, he decides to build a new capital – Asanta. The centerpiece for Asanta will be a monumental center of religious understanding, a pyramid designed by Norman Foster where representatives from all major world religions will meet every three years to foster (no pun intended) religious understanding.

With this rendering, Foster must be consciously evoking Etienne Boullee, and I think the comparison is indeed apt. Like Boullee’s design, Foster’s pyramid is formally and ideologically epic. It includes an opera house “to rival Glyndebourne or Covent Garden,” a national museum of culture, a new center for Kazakhstan’s ethnic and geographical groups – and in order to secure its status as a new wonder of the world – hanging gardens. Oh yeah, and it’s fast-tracked to be done before the end of 2006.

via Gabion
Foster and Partners