Monday, March 29, 2010

Images of Cities Future

Among the many topics I haven't yet touched on here are architecture and urban planning, which is a shame because there are some incredibly beautiful and futuristic buildings out there, and who knows how many architects who've stopped thinking outside the box and opted to throw it away instead.

Examples of the latter are behind the Shanghai Corporate Pavilion* and the rest of the Shanghai Expo buildings<**, the Cité du Design***, the newest Sabiha Gökçen Airport terminal****, the Liège-Guillemins train station, the YAS hotel*****, a Tokyo building with moving parts******, and the buildings in Dubai******* and New York******* which won't get built.

I'm fairly certain any story containing buildings like this would be either a utopia or a dystopia in disguise—you know the type, where eugenics and/or "government-assisted life choices" are considered normal until one person wakes up to what's happening. I'd love to see a non-clichéd storyline containing buildings like these ones, with sleekness and glass and eco-friendliness. Heck, I'd love to see a clichéd story even, if it meant getting these kinds of visuals on a regular basis.
Marta's first glimpse of Salis B contained more beauty than she'd ever seen on her desert homestead. The gleam of the city was nearly blinding as sunlight bounced off the glasses, plastics, and metal turbines resting atop the tallest buildings. And the buildings were tall, rising what seemed to be thousands of feet into the air, sometimes with square corners and straight lines, sometimes with curves and twists that reminiscent of roots or rivulets. 
Marta gasped as the tower opposite her began shifting its exterior, arrays of lights and panels winking through the air in a mechanical dance. In Salis A, even the buildings were alive!
There'll be a whole other post on ecological city planning, since I have a lot of links on the subject, but it won't deal with the problems of fitting a large number of people into a reasonably small space—something else that architects have been thinking about lately. Solutions include modular buildings††, a proposed neighbourhood on the Bay Bridge†††, micro-lofts††††, and "parasitic" pre-fab homes†††††. No longer need we be constrained to interior walls! We can colonize any structure stable enough to hold weight!


And then there's the concept art. ReBurbia‡ reimagines the suburbs. Lord Norman Foster has designed a spaceport.‡‡ David Trautrimas has created buildings modeled on machinery‡‡‡, possibly for techno-fairies, possibly for fun. io9 has a gallery of artwork by John Berkey, who also worked on the original Star Wars trilogy, and another, bigger one of sci-fi film stills. I'd love to live in any of them, though the machine houses would just be for vacations.

I'd go into speculation about cutting-edge architectural science, but I'm fairly sure every possible way to hold up a building's been tried by now, and that we've exhausted every kind of building material as well, with the possible exception of certain alloys and nanotechnology. Then again, the first buildings on a new planet would need to be shipped in or built of local materials, so possibly we'd get brick buildings with solar panels on Mars, or wooden huts on an Earth-like planet, the same as the natives would build (if there are natives). Combining such "primitive" methods with some of the futuristic images in the links above could yield some incredibly intriguing results.

Not that a novel about Pluto's first architect would likely be very exciting, but y'know, it's the idea….


* via inhabitat via BoingBoing Gadgets    ** io9    *** via inhabitat via Gizmodo    ***Gizmodo    ***** io9    ****** io9    ******* io9
******** io9    † © me, right now    †† Gizmodo    ††† io9    †††† io9    ††††† Futurismic    ‡ io9    ‡‡ io9    ‡‡‡ io9

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