Archive for the 'Future' Category

Emotive Architecture

Aurillac Concert Hall

Over the decades individuals have become more outward in their expression, most recently exemplified by the rise of social networks. Through their Design Probes initiative, electronics giant Philips has invested considerable resources researching technologies that afford users new modes of expression from dynamic tattoos to dresses, receptive and reflective of the wearer’s mood.

What if this notion is extended to an architectural context? Not just a visual branding exercise or minor interactive quality between pedestrian and facade as produced today, but something more substantial.

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Fringe Architecture

This past Tuesday, Fox launched its first new drama series of the season, Fringe. The latest endeavor from Lost co-creator J.J. Abrams in collaboration with his former Alias cohorts, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.

At the vanguard of fringe science is the corporation, Massive Dynamic. Its unique office interior recognizable as the Daniel Libeskind designed Lee-Chin Crystal, extension to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Albeit here the angular facades are laced with stock ticker and motivational propaganda displays, integrated into the architecture so seamlessly that the source projection is entirely invisible.

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A Watershed World

Floods or their imminent threat plagued the world last month from southern China to areas surrounding the Mississippi. While their effect on the natural landscape maybe temporary, 2004’s catastrophic Tsunami resulted in permanent coastal changes. With an accelerating increase in rising ocean levels, we can expect earth’s landscape to change more dramatically. At current rates, the Maldives will vanish before century’s end.

In popular media, engineering and architecture don’t offer salvation. Flooded urban landscapes provide a dramatic backdrop where those that survive… adapt. A watershed London serves as backdrop in FreakAngels, “a free, weekly, ongoing comic written by Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Global Frequency, Desolation Jones) and illustrated by Paul Duffield”. FreakAngels opens with a startling pane featuring London’s disintegrating Houses of Parliament engulfed by water (Top Image). Elevated water levels have startling transformative effects on architecture. Witnessing the Richard Rogers designed Millennium (O2) Dome jutting out of the water in episode thirteen brings forth fascinating possibilities; one character declares “I could have turned it into a great big solar still”.

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Ocean Arcologies


The notion of cities condensed into a singular structure or hyperstructure, has frequented works of fiction as far back as 1899 with H.G. Wells, When the Sleeper Wakes. The concept garnered wider attention seventy years later when Architect Paolo Soleri published, Arcology: The City in the Image of Man. Massive self sustaining habitats, the pliable infrastructure and small ecological footprint of arcologies avoid the damaging, inefficient urban sprawl of today’s cities and suburbia.

Despite increasing stresses on our existing societal structure and a world population rapidly growing to unsustainable levels, land based arcologies appear unlikely in the foreseeable future. The answer may reside with the remaining seventy percent of the Earth’s surface, our oceans. Ocean arcologies could utilize ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) or derive energy from the ocean’s perpetual motion to provide abundant pollution-free energy. Fresh water would be available via desalination. Despite the inherent dangers and high expense, the surface of Earth’s oceans are already littered with surprising structures from Sea Forts in the Thames Estuary to the famed remnants of Florida’s Stiltsville and of course the ubiquitous oil rig. Following, a compilation of ambitious ocean arcology concepts.

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Future City: 20|21 - New York Modern Exhibition


Visions of future New York, conceived in the early twentieth century by artists & architects from Hugh Ferriss and Raymond Hood to Harvey Wiley Corbett are now on display at the Skyscraper Museum in lower Manhattan.

Press Release

New York Modern is the first in a cycle of three related exhibitions, spanning a year, entitled FUTURE CITY: 20 | 21 that will juxtapose a retrospective of American visions of the skyscraper city of the future from the early 20th century with an exploration of Chinese cities today, pursuing the parallel conditions of rapid modernization and urbanization. The second exhibition of the cycle will focus on Hong Kong and New York, and the third, “China Prophecy,” explores 21st-century skyscraper city of Shanghai.

New York Modern, which opens on October 24 and runs through March 2008, looks back at prophecies of the skyscraper city in the early 20th century when the first dreams of a fantastic vertical metropolis took shape. From the invention of the tall office building and high-rise hotels in the late 19th century, New York began to expand upward, and by 1900, the idea of unbridled growth and inevitably increasing congestion was lampooned in cartoons in the popular press and critiqued by prominent architects and urban reformers.

In the 1920s, though, a new vision of the future swept American culture-a monumental city of towers, multilevel highways, aerial transport, and densely developed commercial districts. Principally the projections of New York architects and planners, this new type of hyper-concentrated urbanism was set forth in dazzling images, not only in professional circles and publications, but in newspapers, books, magazines, art galleries, department stores, and movies.

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Space Elevator


Conceived at the end of the nineteenth century, the concept of an elevator into space was brought to widespread attention by Arthur C. Clarke in his 1979 novel, The Fountains of Paradise. Thanks to advancements in the development and fabrication of carbon nanotubes during the ’90’s, this dream is potentially on the verge of becoming reality. With the super strength of carbon nanotubes, a cable can now be extended from earth to beyond geosynchronous orbit and maintain tension due to gravity and centripetal acceleration respectively.

Numerous concepts of how the space elevator may appear from an orbital vantage point have been shown. A couple of years ago, Alan Chan from VFX firm Sony Pictures Imageworks, collaborated with other digital artists to create a short film visualizing the concept. However concepts for the anchor structure on Earth have been unsurprisingly less publicized, despite interesting designs from artist Shane Kilduff for space elevator company LiftPort.

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Visual Futurist: The Art & Life of Syd Mead

Last year’s documentary by Director Joaquin Montalvan on the world’s most famous concept designer, Syd Mead, is now available on DVD.

This star studded documentary features in depth observations from Syd himself, but also the amazing cast of leading designers and producers around the globe. Featured are: Steven Lisberger, Richard Taylor, Bob Gurr, Chuck Jordan, James Knight, Gene Winfield, C. Orval Selders, Roger Servick, Paul M. Sammon, Michael Deeley, Katherine Haber, Nathan Proch, and Dyan Sublett. Listen to Syd Mead recall his influences and life tales of working on some of the largest projects the world has ever undertaken. Travel through the film projects such as Blade Runner and TRON with those who made the dream a reality behind the scenes.

Purchase the DVD and view the trailer at Syd Mead’s official site.

Design Studio Press

Concept design publisher, Design Studio Press just overhauled their website and released a 2007 catalog revealing several new titles.

An impressive line-up punctuated by the first monograph of Patrick Tatopoulous and his Production Design and Creature Effects work on films including Dark City, Stargate, I-Robot, Pitch Black, Independence Day and Underworld.

The eight other newly announced titles are Counterweight: The Art and Concepts of Rick O’Brien, Structura: The Art of Sparth, Daniel Simon’s Cosmic Motors, Alp Altiner and Liam O’Donnel’s The Art of the Unknown, Alien Race, The Art of Midway Games, Concept Art of Aaron Sims and Alien vs. Predator: Survival of the Fittest.

Augmented Cognition

The Augmented Cognition Society website is hosting a short film set in 2030 entitled The Future of Augmented Cognition. AugCog science is a burgeoning field whose mandate involves the development of methods and tools that counteract the inherent bottlenecks in human-system interaction. Commissioned by DARPA and created by director Alexander Singer (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager), the film postulates a potential market manipulation scenario prevented with the aid of AugCog technologies.

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Postcard Visions of the Future


One of the early fads produced by industrialization was the postcard. Only fitting that some would depict cities and societies of the future. Clearly extrapolated from existing technology and designs, these transportation centric concepts were chaotic and exaggerated. More fantastical than visionary, one of the more recognizable examples is from the series, Boston in the Future. That collection of postcards printed by the Reichner Brothers in 1910/1911 are held by the Boston Public Library.

A more fascinating set circa 1900 depicts future Moscow. Brief prophetic glimpses reside within immense detail in these postcards published by Einem and housed in the State Central Museum of Contemporary History of Russia.

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