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Alsop's preparing us for a Blade Runner future

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The bad criticism of Alsop's design for the Ontario College of Art & Design (AJ 1.7.04) is failing to grasp the importance of this project as well as its consequences for future urban infills.

This building doesn't belong to 21st-century architecture but is indicating the shape of things to come in the 22nd century.

In Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner, one is shown a decaying city, where the sky is always darkened (see picture above).

Floors have been added to existing buildings, with new services fixed to the outside of the building like creepers. The set designer had imagined how buildings in this future noir might look like. As our cities get more and more congested, future developments will inevitably be upwards - on stilts - or downwards - underground. The extension of the Jubilee Line in London with its Piranesi-like spaces shows that living, travelling, playing and working underground are already taking place.

Alsop's dream-like design is showing how this will be done above ground. One can already imagine futuristic cars and scooters (like in Luc Besson's The Fifth Element) hovering around the school, and more is to follow.

It is the merit of Alsop Architects to have demonstrated that this inevitable development is not so bad and doesn't have to lead to an underworld with congested streets and replicants eating steaming bowls of rice in a place which is constantly dark, cold and wet.

Rik Leus, via email

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