Living in a Box

The lack of space experienced in many countries coupled with innovative architects makes for some Alpha Complex-like prospects, seeking to “maximize urban density, construct artificial natures, [and] let data-crunching computers do the design work”.

This article, focussed on the work of architectural fim MVRDV, proposes all sorts of tweaks to urban and rural design, with impacts on the human population and beyond. MVRDV’s designs allow for the likes of “sustainable 40-story tower blocks for … pigs … piling up the country’s porcine population and its slaughterhouses into sod-layered, manure-powered skyscrapers” and concepts where “all the housing, retail and industry for a theoretical city of one million inhabitants [can be] digitally compressed into the space of a three-mile-high cube”. Sink that cube into the ground under a dome – and what do you have?

Some of the buildings MVRDV has created – like these – have a hint of PARANOIA about them from the outset. Check out slides 5 (RED Clearance) and 7 (GREEN Clearance), or slide 4 where the security clearances assigned could well lead to some problems getting to work…

The MVRDV vision of a crowded future cries out Alpha Complex, while instilling an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia in the reader. Future cities would exist:

“…not only in front, behind or next to you, but also above and below. In short a city in which ground-level zero no longer exists but has dissolved into a multiple and simultaneous presence of levels where the town square is replaced by a void or a bundle of connections; where the street is replaced by simultaneous distribution and divisions of routes and is expanded by elevators, ramps and escalators…”

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