artificial landscapes

If the hubris of huge skyscrapers is just not quite enough (see Blair Kamin’s obsessive world’s-tallest-building articles), how about actually playing God or at least millions of years of geology and make artificial landscapes.

artificial mountain range in Dubai:

scheme for artificial mountain in Berlin:

by architect Jakob Tigges, this 1,000 meter tall mountain, called The Berg.

:

architect Roland Castro’s vision of a greener and larger Paris.

and, the inumerable number of buildings that are landscapes themselves:

SERA architects proposed Wyatt Federal Building

Like sci-fi movies that every 20 years of so reflect America and Hollywood’s renewed fear of immigrants (District 9, Invasion of the Body Snatchers), slumps in the economy of architecture leave designers lots of time to dream big.  In the 1960’s these fantastical projects were mega-cities.  (In an interesting parallel to these projects, the techniques of visualization often take huge leaps as well.  The revitalization and invention in architectural drawings in the 1960’s was amazing.  We can only hope that the demands that these artificial landscape projects make on current visualization techniques, usually computer renderings, can also engender a new paradigm of computer-based imaging.)

As an architect in Colorado, with 1,000 meter mountains in our backyard, it is an interesting trend to see play out.  Is there a implicit criticism of urbanism buried within these schemes?  Certainly it is a reflection of the concerns around climate change, enviromentalism and urban sprawl.  Or does this really signal a fundamental loss of confidence in the forms of architecture as derived from normative construction – orthagonal lines, hard and finite materials, etc.)?  Is Bilbao a building or a rocky mountain?

a question of form – Bilbao rendered in red sandstone instead of shiny titanium

What do you think?  Is this a fundamental change in the nature of the making and thinking about architecture or just the apex of a wave of  “organic” design (artificial landscapes, blog architecture) that replaced the industrial, machine-formed images of an earlier generation of architects (Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, etc.)?

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