The following essay on Die Hard, Kafka, Deleuze, The Towering Inferno, Inception, James Bond, Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning originally appeared in Volume 37: Is This Not a Pipe?
What does a heist reveal about bank design? What can architects learn from a prison break? What happens when we view the criminal act as an especially transgressive mode of architectural criticism? Crime has the potential to reveal new facets of architecture. It exposes unexpected spatial narratives and subverts conventional readings of the designed environment. Crime undermines the implicit formal and programmatic optimism in any architectural plan or program. It also makes for a hell of a movie.
Architecture may not be able to mend a broken heart but perhaps it can help ease suffering. Found at the always-inspiring information aesthetics, the above short film comes from the co-creator of the LA traffic nightmare 405, and artfully depicts a man designing a world using a type of sci-fi Sketchup. But while our silent protagonist’s methods may be futuristic, his motivation is timeless.
· World Builder: the Future of Interacting with Holographic Tools> [infoaesthetics]
· “What good is your modern architecture if it can’t repair a broken heart?!?” [LWB]
Synecdoche, New York is a film about the search for truth in art. It’s also about a perpetually burning house, a mysteriously abandoned apartment, identity, infinitely recursive architecture, and poop. But, as you might as you might be able to guess, it’s the infinitely recursive architecture part I’d like to focus on here. The movie, from writer and director Charlie Kaufman (writer of Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine, and Adaptation), follows the life of theater directory Caden Cotard as he searches for his own truths in an ever-expanding stage production with the help of a seemingly limitless MacArthur Genius Grant.
Life Without Buildings has a Blu-ray disk of Synecdoche, New York to give away to one lucky commenter. Just leave a comment describing what you would build in an infinite warehouse if space, logic, and money were no issue. And maybe give a little insight as to why. I’ll decide the winner through a series of complex humor/sincerity equations, applied architectural theory, and the outside arbitration of what will most likely be drunk lawyers in Chicago. Winners will be decided on March 20th.
I had the chance to interview Charlie Kaufman back in October, and for those who are curious what he would do (other than what he did, of course), here’s an excerpt from our conversation:
The real star of the new Clive Owen / Naomi Watts movie The International? Architecture. That’s according to The Architects Newspaper Blog, anyway, who spotted several recognizable buildings in preview for the um… banking and finance thriller. The best part? A climactic shootout in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim museum. It might be a little early to say this, but I’m guessing this beats out Cremaster 3 for the best-climactic-battle-in-the-guggenheim prize. Of course, this all begs the question: Is shootout architecture a parallel field to heist-urbanism?