Architects have always dreamed of shaping the future, of building utopian worlds filled with seemingly impossible structures that break with the past to propel mankind far into the twenty-first century and beyond.
Buildings for Tomorrow reviews forty such visionary projects that appear to come from futures that mankind has so far only imagined. Spread across nineteen countries, over thirty architects, from famous names to little-known innovators, have combined the latest technological advances with their boundless creative energy to bring their constructions into being. In so doing they have blurred the line that separates the realities of our everyday environment from the cinematic realms of science fiction.
These buildings are as radically different from each other as they are from accepted norms. Dividing them into three themes, this book lays out the differing approaches to tomorrow, exploring the design ideologies by examining the technology, materials and context that lie behind these unconventional facades.
Some make inspired use of natural forms or traditional methods and materials to create bio-morphic compositions that can seem ancient, unworldly, or even alien. Bart Prince's extraordinary organic wooden houses rub shoulders with Frank Gehry's billowing titanium gallery, and Santiago Calatrava's concrete beetle-cum-planetarium faces Eugene Tsui's latter-day Dimetradon.
Others favour the sleek futuristic design vision of the 1950s and 1960s: here we find Oscar Niemeyer's art gallery, floating like a polished flying saucer near Rio de Janeiro, and Spacelab's Kunsthaus, Graz, its smooth acrylic skin a rippling mass of light and shadow.
But here too are buildings that offer forceful expressions of a future dominated by technology, where the nuts and bolts of architecture are on display for all to see. The external steel workings of Richard Rogers' instantly recognizable Lloyds Building are joined by the tectonic plates of Terry Farrell's The Deep and the dramatic spurred arms of the Falkirk Wheel.
Though diverse in form and function, all these structures are united in their quest to challenge convention and break the mould. Wherever their inspiration has been drawn, be it NASA capsules or nautilus shells, these buildings show that imagination and creativity can work on a variety of scales and budgets, and can collectively set a thought-provoking agenda for an alternative architecture of tomorrow.
Paul Cattermole is a full-time writer and researcher working with a practice covering the fields of architecture, master-planning and landscape design. He is the author of five books exploring both contemporary and historic architecture and design.
Arcaid Images, founded by Lynne and Richard Bryant, is an international image resource for architecture and interiors. www.arcaidimages.com
"A sleek, slick account of iconic contemporary buildings."
- The Financial Times
"The future encapsulated in one fascinating read... you will be astonished by the range of buildings in the book, from the giant tentacled octopus Kunsthaus in the Austrian city of Graz, and Selfridges' metal-studded curvaceous superstore in Birmingham, to Calatrava's completely weird and beautiful City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia."
- The Evening Standard
"A rattling good read."
- RIBA Journal