This Friday at the Architectural Association here in London, Liam Young and I will be hosting Thrilling Wonder Stories: Speculative Futures for an Alternate Present: a 6-hour event with an unbelievable line-up, discussing the thematic, imaginative, technical, and even structural connections between science fiction and architectural design.
I’ve repeatedly asked here on the blog what architects might learn from science fiction – whether this latter term is understood to mean Star Trek, Dune, ancient myth, or The Book of Revelation – but, of course, this also works the other way around. What can producers and fans of sci-fi take away from the offshore utopias, Walking Cities, artificial reefs, vertical farms, genetically-modified living megastructures, intelligent machinery, and reengineered urban rivers of contemporary architectural design?
This symposium, hosted from 11am to 5pm in the Lecture Hall of the Architectural Association (here’s a map), will be an incredible way to explore these questions in depth.
From the event description:
We have always regaled ourselves with speculative tales of a day yet to come. In these polemic visions we furnish the fictional spaces of the near future with objects and ideas that, at the same time, chronicle the contradictions, inconsistencies, flaws and frailties of the everyday. Slipping suggestively between the real and the imagined, they offer a distanced view from which to survey the consequences of various social, environmental and technological scenarios.
In this symposium we will hear stories from such foreign fields as gaming, film, comics, animation, literature and art. These speculative practitioners present alternative models as test sites for the deployment of the wondrous possibilities, or dark cautionary tales, of our own architectural imaginings. And so we wander off the map to embark on a future safari into the brave new worlds that may evolve from our own.
Following an introduction from Brett Steel, Director of the Architectural Association, and short welcomes from both myself and Liam Young, you’ll hear a genuinely fantastic line-up:
—Warren Ellis, comic book author and graphic novelist – with a portfolio ranging from X-Men, Wolverine, and Iron Man to Ellis’s legendary Transmetropolitan, FreakAngels, and Fell – and author of Crooked Little Vein
—Nic Clear, interviewed last year by Ballardian, editor of “Architectures of the Near Future,” a forthcoming issue of Architectural Design, and director of Unit 15 at the Bartlett School of Architecture
The event is free, open to the public, takes place at 36 Bedford Square, and will last all day, from 11am to 5pm; definitely feel free to stop in and check it out. The AA will also be opening up their Wifi network for event attendees, so you’ll be able to live-blog the proceedings, if you wish – and, even better, the whole thing will be livestreamed, which means that, even if you’re not in London, you can still tune-in.
So expect some amazing presentations, live interviews, and open discussions – as well as an ongoing flurry of mind-bending ideas, visuals, and architectural designs. It’s not often that Archigram, Half-Life 2, and Transmetropolitan get together in the same room.
Hope to see you there!