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SCImatic Design | A Project About What Architects Could Learn From Science Fiction Architecture

SCImatic Design at the INTERCAD 2011 – Vienna

Abstract for the presentation at INTERCAD 2011 – Vienna, Nov. 2011:

SCImatic Design – Categorizing the Architectural Utopia in the Genre of Science Fiction.

In the genre of filmic science fiction, architecture is a secondary but important factor, which has not been well explored yet. Although the visual background in film plays a key role in representing and defining the setting for the story and gives with its design structure a clear social and technological framework as well as time context, there has not been given much analytic attention to it so far. The generally very free and endless design options of science fiction architecture, however, let conclude that there exists innovative potential. Thus, it is time to examine this background within the framework of the theory of architecture.

Starting with a clear distinction of what science fiction architecture is and what it is not, the paper lays out the first results of the categorization of the architectural utopias in the genre of science fiction.

Basing on the leading principles for this kind of research, which are: the acceptance of incompleteness, the interpretation of the visible and the considering of the social circumstances and technological conditions, it is possible to discern clear borders and to gain results in analysing the science fiction architecture. These results are five incommensurable architectural stiles transgressing the different science fiction subgenres first developed within the project SCImatic Design.

This paper presents a system theoretical and qualitative analysis. Using visual examples of technological and sociological paradigms of various science fiction worlds; the paper aims at carving out prototypical architectonical style elements and structures and categorises them into a system from witch further conclusion could be drawn.

The investigated area for this study comprises the best 159 science fiction movies as defined by a German speaking online community. Continue Reading…

Thinking about a new investigation area: SciFi-Comics!

So far the study of SCImatic Design was only investigating the area of SCIFI Movies. The main reason for this is that within the written genre of science fiction there is hardly any architecture mention or described – and if there is it is a widely generalised description.

Now I am considering entering a new investigation and research area – Science Fiction Comics! The first hint I got was the comic author Jean Giraud (pseudonym: moebius). I am intrigued by the idea of using the comic utopias for analysing and maybe integrating them into the study of SCImatic Design.



Does anyone have any ideas or tips where I can get some more science fiction comics online? Or do any names of SCIFI – Comics or authors come to your mind?

A special thank you to my friend Martin Brischnik (http://brischnik.eu) whose idea it was to look into the world of comics and who got me the tip about Jean Giraud!

Science Fiction Stock Photos

Just checked some stock photos for the background of this blog. If your are looking for good Science Fiction stock photos you have to look here:  http://www.fotosearch.com/photos-images/science-fiction.html

Though, they are not cheap 🙂

The CITY in the Science Fiction Genre!

SCImatic design is currently trying to establish some insights about SCIFI and the city!. Today we found a nice article reagring this topic. Great work!

The post with the titel: „Architectural Representations of the City in Science Fiction Cinema“ gives us a very nice picture and inspires us to look at this topic within the framework of SCImatic Design. You can also find a good list of different movies in the differnet genres of SCIFI! (here; look at the sidebar).

The relevance of SCImatic Design. Part 1.

The importance of science fiction architecture, for me and my work in this field, does not only lie within the visionary creativity, but specifically in the fact that within the imaginary planning we consciously proceed from an unreal world and often from an impossible world. If architecture can understand itself as manifestation of cultural, technological and spiritual conditions of a society – and this can be legitimately claimed so – then, fictional societies should also produce architectonic manifestations different to the “real world“, or better architectonic manifestations corresponding to their world.

The systems of structures of society within the genre of science fiction makes architectonic elements possible, often even necessary, which could not have emerged out of the real system of society. Thus, in science fiction, firstly, a new society, a new system is created, and secondly out of this new parameter Continue Reading…

Research SD – The Leading Principles

When working on the project we always remind us about our self defined leading principles:

Acceptance of incompleteness. A claim to completeness has to be abandoned. The difficulty lies within working only with fragments, with short unclear views or diffuse and dark ambient lights. The challenge within this lies in the fact that you have to accept it and make the best out of what you got. Sure it would be much better if I can take a look at the movie sets, the stage props, the models or the animations, but since this is not accessible for the consumer (and I believe its better that way) its not relevant for the influence tat a movie can produce.

– Interpretation of the visible. Through the restriction of the researched area to filmic and visual representations, particular attention is paid to “what you can see“. So your only tool to intensify your research is the pause button on your DVD player.

– Considering the social circumstances and technological conditions. In principle, direct and indirect relations between the constructed surroundings and the dominant social dynamics seem to influence the science fiction architecture way more than architecture in reality. The reason could ground in the simultaneous invention of the social dynamics and the constructed surroundings in the same process of creation by the author or director.  In our real world architectures renders a kind of social reflection through a correspondence between an artful interpretation and current technical possibilities. So, there must be a delay in the creation process, which in Science fiction is not necessary.


SCImatic Design and sky high buildings!

Laut den Meldungen der letzten Tage wird der Versuch das mit Abstand höchste Gebäude der Welt zu errichten (kolportiert ist eine Höhe von über 1,5km; Meldung nicht bestätigt) nicht an den Zweifeln der Machbarkeit scheitern, sondern an der nicht Integrierbarkeit ins gängige urbane Lebenssystem. Wäre es technisch zwar schwierig, aber machbar, so stellt der Funktionsablauf (im Hinblick beispielsweise auf Fluchtmöglichkeit) eher das Problem dar. Das Nadelöhr des bodengebundenen Ein- und Ausgangs wird so lange eine Blockade darstellen bis sich die Erschließung auf mehereren Ebenen (nach außen), ev. sogar vertikal, realisieren lässt.

So kann man am weit sichtbaren Solitär des derzeit noch höchsten Gebäude der Welt, dem Burdsch Chalifa in Dubai, die Signalwirkung und Demonstration technischer Möglichkeiten klar ablesen. Die vertikale Verdichtung kann in diesem Fall aber wohl kaum die treibende Kraft gewesen sein.

Für die Studie SCImatic Design – A Project about what Architects could learn from Science Fiction Architeture scheint sich hier ein weiteres Ergebnis abzuzeichnen. Die 4.Kategorie von Science Fiction Architektur – Technologically Oriented Architecture – zeichnet mit ihrem ersten Hauptmerkmal – Vertical Traffic – deutlich ein Bild einer verkehrstechnisch dreidimensional vernetzten Stadt. Die Kombination extrem hoher Gebäude kann nur dann gut funktionieren, wenn sich die Gebäudeerschließung nicht nur auf den Bodenbereich beschränkt.

Vertikaler Verkehr bzw. Verkehr und Erschließung in verschiedenen Höhen und dann auch auf verschiedenen Ebenen scheint ein notwendiges Kriterium zu sein um extrem hohe Gebäude erfolgreich in ein urbanes Lebenssystem zu integrieren. Eine Erkenntnis die uns die Science Fiction Architektur bereits seit geraumer Zeit vorexerziert.


SCImatic Design -Analysing the Architectural Utopia.

Wikipedia -Liste der höchsten Gebäude der Welt


SCImatic Design – Q&A NTNU Lecture

Here is a the summary of the disscussed topics and questions at the lecture at the NTNU Faculty of Architecture and Fine Arts, 25.02.2011, Trondheim, Norway.

Lecture titel: SCImatic Design. Analysing the Architectural Utopia. A project about what architects colud learn from Science Fiction Architecture.

Q: What about the kind of Science Fiction Architecture which is organic and biological like in the movie Alien?

A: As long as they are organic – biologic elements thet function as application, this means as a form of plant, –  we do not regard them as architecture.  A building substance from purely biologic, organic elements could not be found so far in the films. But also if they were, I would not regard them as architecture as these systems generally have controlled, more or less autonomous intelligence, and as such have to be looked in a different way.

Q: How do you see the realationship between “normal“ architects and the people who do architecture in these movies?

A: I am sure the that there is not as much relation as you think. I think the architecture within these utopias is mostly designed by designers with a strong artistic approach. It is not necessary to build the buildings in their entirety. Continue Reading…

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