Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood’

Aeon Flux

Aeon Flux location -  Baumschulenweg Crematorium, Berlin

Well Aeon Flux‘s fictional city of Bregna would once again(Quite similar to what i had written about the movie equilibrium) remind one of the works of Albert Speer in Germany and the Soviet architects . Well, this forces one to think whether the futuristic architecture would end up like the fascist architecture. A friend of mine recently pointed out that in Hollywood it’s always the villains who have the best taste in architecture and decor, and this is often specifically true for science fiction. Well it certainly seems like the architecture of the so called villains of the 20th century are inspiration for Hollywood film makers working on futuristic architecture

The future city of Bregna was built as a utopian haven but quickly reveals itself as a dark dystopia, its superb architecture suddenly taking on a more chilling nightmare feel.

Aeon Flux

Many of the buildings used in the movie are actual exisitng buildings in Germany. For example the now disused 1935 Berlin Windkanal or aerodynamic testing wind tunnel for German aircraft, built in 1932 and now designated a technical landmark is widely seen in the movie. After WWII the Soviets removed all the equipment from the building , leaving only the tunnel behind. It stands in for the “maze” and government complex in the film.

Aeon Flux location - Benjamin Franklin Kongresshalle

The Benjamin Franklin Conference Center Kongresshalle, above, by Hugh Stubbins with Werner Düttmann and Franz Mocken, 1957. It has been renamed House of World Culture, but Berliners call it the ‘pregnant oyster’. Its roof, which has been rebuilt after a collapse in 1980, is the setting for a nighttime battle between Aeon and guards.

Aeon Flux location - Tierschutzheim by Daniel Bangert

Numerous scenes in the film were shot in the Tierschutzheim Berlin by Dietrich Bangert, above. The building is actually a large, privately-funded animal shelter complex.

Aeon Flux location - MexicanEmbassy, Berlin

Berlin’s modern concrete and glass Mexican Embassy, above, was a public marketplace in the film. It was designed by Francisco Serrano in collaboration with Teodoro González de León and completed in 2000.

Aeon Flux

The Volkspark Potsdam, 2001, popularly known as the BUGA Park, also includes the biosphere used as a tropical greenhouse in the film. Its recreation area, with standing concrete planes, appeared during the assassination mission sequence.

Aeon Flux

The scene above was shot at the Radsporthalle (Velodrom) by Dominique Perrault at the Landsberger Allee in Berlin Prenzlauer Berg. 1995-96.

Aeon Flux, Bauhaus Archiv

Aeon Flux

Bauhaus Archiv, which served as the exterior of the building where Aeon and her sister Una live.

So now lets conclude with some world’s from the Bauhaus archive”: “The museum building is a late work of Walter Gropius [1883-1969], the founder of the Bauhaus. It was planned in 1964 for Darmstadt and was built 1976-79 in modified form in Berlin. Today, its characteristic silhouette is one of Berlin’s landmarks.”

Well cult movies have a way of their own in explaining things and Director Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is now different. Brazil was a sci-fi comedy cult movie released in 1985. Through this movie Terry intends to create an eclectic style. The film was shot on location at various places in Europe to create this mood. The architecture of the movie Brazil is as varied as its themes. Architectural expression takes on various forms and styles. Styles range from the decadence of Ida Lowry’s house to the brutalist interrogation space of the ‘Ministry of Information’. Gilliam sequences the plot of Brazil to move through these spaces and distinguish the intensity of the film. The spatiality of the sets highlight the themes of the movie.

During the time Brazil was released Post Modernism was a significant architectural style and had influence on Brazil’s set design. The courtyard in front of the Ministry of Information can be linked to Arata Isozaki’s design of MOCA in Los Angeles. MOCA has characteristically large monumental public spaces and over-scaled urban artifacts similar to the space in front of the Ministry of Information building. Robert Venturi and the post modernists of the 1970’s and 1980’s coined the phrase that ‘function follows form‘. With the use of post modern architecture, artificiality is integrated as a subplot within Brazil. Mrs. Ida Lowry’s apartment is an exhibition of her wealth and caste within society. Her apartment was filmed in the Liberal Club located next to London’s old Scotland Yard, a wealthy and well protected area of the city. Similar to Ida’s apartment Dr. Jaffe’s surgery room, where Ida Lowry receives her cosmetic treatment, exudes a certain decadence as well. The scene was shot in the home of Lord Leighton, a Victorian artist and collector, and is extravagantly decorated.

In the scene where Sam visits Mrs. Buttle to return her receipt for her husband, we see the difference between the aristocratic society and the working class society. Modern economical building types are used to depict the living conditions of the society that are poor. For example, the modernist courtyard that Sam visits before going to Mrs. Buttle’s apartment is testimony to this idea. The courtyard is derelict and inhabited by impoverished children. The architectural form of these buildings shares some resemblance to Le Corbusier’s Unite de Habitation. The hard concrete façade is characteristic of both apartments in Brazil and the Unite de Habitation.

Additionally we see that these influences of architecture affect the mood of the scenes. Architecture is used to express cinematic ideas. The restaurant where Sam, Ida, Mrs. Terrain, and Shirley eat lunch was filmed in Buckinghamshire’s Mentmore Towers. The restaurant scene portrays the lack of sensibility of the upper class in Brazil. A terrorist bomb detonates while the group is dining and not a single person acknowledges that the event takes place or attempts to help the people injured.

Continuing that architecture is used to express cinematic ideas, Sam’s apartment filmed at the Marne la Vallee in France, a huge apartment complex designed by Ricardo Bofil, depicts the problems of functionality. Sam’s house is functional to the point that it is inept for living. The extreme functionality of the house actually negatively affects Sam’s life. This is the case when his alarm clock neglects to go off, his toast is burnt, and his coffee is spilled. Similarly, the enormous space where Sam is lobotomized depicts the over-bearing strength of mechanized industrial society on the human psyche. The scene was shot on location in a cooling tower at a South London power station. During Sam’s escape scene the stunt man who rescue Sam descend a distance of 170 feet onto 9 inch wide metal bridges that are 40 feet above the ground. The enormous space emphasizes the scale to which society has succumbed to total dominance over the individual. The space is empowering and extremely intimidating. The Records Department where Sam works is the ‘container’ where he becomes a ‘cog’ in the machine of society. Filming of this scene took place at an abandoned grain mill in the Docklands of London. The mill was painted gray to create a dull and uneventful space. The giant holes in the ceiling are the bottoms of giant twelve story grain silos. The significance of Sam’s work place shows that the worker’s humanity is mediocre within the realm of Brazil’s bureaucracy.

Hollywood has portrayed futuristic ideas better than any other visual media. Futuristic architecture has been beautifully visualized in movies like Star wars or Matrix or any other Sci Fi movie. But as an architect and a movie lover, never have I experienced a movie in which architecture had an upper hand. That was until I saw Tron Legacy.

Tron Legacy is one movie whose architecture fascinated me more than anything else. The is might be because, the director Joseph Kosinski is an architect himself. The way he had imagined the world inside the chips is mind blowings.The most fascinating of all the architectural elements though are the ones with the futuristic concepts involved. The way he brought in those interesting forms and integrated them with those neon lights are fascinating. The gaming arenas inspired from the stadiums or the tower which housed the ISO’s clearly shows the mind of the architect behind the screen.

So lets look at the buildings or architectural elements of Tron one my one.

Flynn’s Safehouse:

The house of Flynn(played by Jeff Bridges) inside the Grid(the programming world) has an open plan and truly resembles the works of the masters. Kosinski describes the house as “It is a safe house, neo-Victorian furniture is featured in the minimalist interior, creating a look that blends the old with the new in a provocative way.”

Flynn’s Safehouse is a combination of a spacious home and a bunker, disconnected from the Grid and hidden in the Outlands. It is far enough from TRON City that the prying eyes of Clu’s subordinates do not reach it, yet it is also far enough that it leaves Kevin Flynn unable to offer protection to the Grid.

Established some time after Clu’s betrayal in 1989, the safehouse has been developed and expanded into a well appointed subterranean complex with one expansive window opening from the main lounge and dining area out onto a viewing platform in the side of a cliff. Much of the interior features lighting throughout the floor, as well as from fittings in the ceiling, which activates in the presence of occupants and bathes the rooms in a steady white glow. Connected to the main living area are smaller personal rooms furnished with beds, and shelves for personal belongings.

Flynn’s Container House:

Another house, though not so architecturally fascinating, which catches the viewers attention is the container house of Flynn junior. Seems like the architect turned director was interested in putting in some sustainable concepts in to his movie.

Input/Output Tower:

I/O tower is a location in the Computer World that programs use to communicate to their users. They regard these towers as religious places and each tower has a Tower Guardian to protect the holy place. Dumont and I-No are examples of Tower Guardians.

Game Arena:

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The Game Arena is contained in a vast stadium on the edge of TRON City. It plays host to a number of different gladiatorial sports including matches for Lightcycles, and a radically redesigned Disc Arena where combatants fight inside a series of transparent modules. Stadium seating provides live viewing positions for thousands and the spectators are screened from the arena floor by a sturdy clear shield capable of withstanding the full force of a lightcycle impact without breaching.

The environment of the arena combat area can be constantly reshaped to accommodate a wide range of different game environments. Everything from rotating Disc Arena modules suspended high above the ground to a lightcycle grid with spiral tracks and other ramped structures.

SO finally lets talk about the Tron City:

TRON City

Tron legacy city 2.jpg

is the main city in the TRON system. It is built on the Grid, Kevin Flynn’s master creation, and the pinnacle of his “digital frontier”. It is constructed in a hexagonal shape, with a deep chasm surrounding its perimeter. Bridges connect it to the surrounding area and form highly defensible choke points against any surface-based aggression. The city, like the Grid around it, matches the darkened environment of the rest of the TRON system. The gloom is offset by brilliant white illumination, meandering throughout the city like circuits on on a printed circuit board.

The first beginnings of TRON City were in 1983 after the establishment of the Grid. It was expanded to accommodate a multitude of diverse programs and beyond the purely functional streets and buildings it eventually gained some of the less essential trappings of a society, such as a vast entertainment arena and nightclubs. One building in particular provides a significant point of interest; Flynn’s Arcade in the real world has it’s very own digital simulation in TRON City and this modest structure in the heart of the city provides the entry point into the system for users rezzing in from the real arcade.

TRON City was at one time a thriving metropolis of digital freedom where all types of programs functioned and intermingled. But ever since Clu 2 took over the control of the TRON system from Kevin Flynn, it has become a dark, oppressed place of strict, regulated functions.

Below is a talk with Joseph Kosinski, who speaks about the movie and how he started of as an engineer then an architect and finally a director.