I live in a rectangle, but I like these anyway
February 27, 2011 4:38 AM   Subscribe

Vincent Callebaut has been pursuing visionary architectural projects; Coral Reef housing in Haiti, Urban Jungles in Hong Kong, high-flying Algae Airships for the South China sea, and Lilypads for global warming.
posted by twoleftfeet (18 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't see how the Coral Reef design is connected to Haiti. Haiti is a poor country recovering from a massively destructive natural disaster. What problems does building off shore housing solve?

I think that the idea of a floating city is pretty cool but I doubt that it's the least costly solution to housing people displaced by global warming.
posted by rdr at 5:00 AM on February 27, 2011

A super-typhoon would make a mess of his Hong Kong work.
posted by bwg at 5:03 AM on February 27, 2011

Visionary architecture isn't necessarily about making practical structures.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:07 AM on February 27, 2011

His Ultra Contemporary designs are extremely now.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:45 AM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

These all look very pretty, but I get annoyed at things like these being touted as "green" - what about the environmental impact of actually building these in the first place? All that glass, all that skyscrapery stuff that will have to be made out of steel or concrete.

I would love to see something like this with an actual concept of what building materials to use, the energy and waste balance, and an assessment of the environmental impact over its lifetime as compared to just building normal housing and infrastructure.
posted by Zarkonnen at 5:55 AM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think there's an impracticality to the "Coral Reef" idea -- each housing unit is supposed to have its own little garden plot, but the lower level apartments will have garden plots that won't have much light at all. It looks like he's trying to address this with the wave design, but I just don't see how it's going to help much.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:06 AM on February 27, 2011

This guy has played way too much Sim City 3000.
posted by chemoboy at 7:12 AM on February 27, 2011

Callebaut’s Hydrogenase airships are completely self-sufficient and contain specialized breeds of seaweed that soak up sunlight and CO2 to generate hydrogen.

This makes no sense.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:04 AM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think a lot of you are actively missing the point.
posted by hermitosis at 8:16 AM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am so done with this uncritical neo utopian stuff in architecture. Look, Le Corbusier's Radiant City, Howards Garden City, even some of archigram concepts could actually get built*. They did actually get built, in some form or another. There was at least some effort into thinking about the pragmatic utility and affordability of these concepts to go along with the images. They were real plans, not fantasies. The global warming lilypad is not a real plan. It is at best an escape valve for the super rich that even the super rich don't want**. The haiti project looks like it would cost the entire GDP of Haiti to implement. Haitians don't need a fancy apartment building. That doesn't fix their problems. Also that building isn't even seismically designed! These projects are sci fi movie backgrounds to uncritical high budget hollywood films. Thats all they are.

They might also be signs of a profession moving back towards only understanding and serving the the concerns of the super rich, but that's a whole other argument.

*There were schemes that were never meant for construction as well, superstudio and archizoom's projects in particular, but they were making philosophical arguments with them. These projects don't make philosophical arguments, they create fantasies and capitalize on an uncritical image driven internet culture.

**Its not like global warming is freaking waterworld where we all take to the seas to survive. Climate warms, seas rise, people move inland. A lot of poor Indians and East Asians die on the way. Why do we need this?
posted by tmthyrss at 8:41 AM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

If this is visionary architecture please blow up my eyeballs
posted by doobiedoo at 8:53 AM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well, they look really cool, anyway.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 9:00 AM on February 27, 2011

"Goddammit honey can you call the super and have him land the building? I forgot my keys again and you guys are at cruising altitude"
posted by Riptor at 9:01 AM on February 27, 2011

hermitosis said: I think a lot of you are actively missing the point.

I don't think they've missed the point. Visionary architecture isn't necessarily about making practical structures (penis buildings included[sfw] ). However, there's always strong rhetoric in successful visionary architecture.

The problem with this architect is his projects are masquerading as radical ecological/sustainable architecture, and yet his actual proposals aren't based on ecological and sustainable ideas. His rhetoric is flawed.

I mean, of all places to propose apartments like these... Haiti?

Imagine this architect's proposal for the devastated families in Haiti...
Now imagine a US architect proposing the same thing for the homeless in New Orleans.

Sounds kinda dumb, right?
posted by lemuring at 9:32 AM on February 27, 2011

The problem with this architect is his projects are masquerading as radical ecological/sustainable architecture, and yet his actual proposals aren't based on ecological and sustainable ideas.

Definitely. He's making decorative buildings, when what we need is a vision of how to create structures that we can live in without destroying our surroundings.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:46 AM on February 27, 2011

One of the most interesting things for me in these visions of the future is the 3d-people-objects dropped into each scene. Each person is harmoniously gazing at the view, walking calmly to their next activity, or having a friendly conversation with their neighbor.

Architecture does not create this social paradise. Mutual respect does, and mutual respect comes from social equality. In a nation where all people are to some extent middle class, there is no such thing as the inhuman, undeserving poor.
But in the United States today there is a fear of giving healthcare to "them", the people who don't take care of themselves, who are lazy, who live in deteriorating and dirty houses. Why should we, the wealthy, care about them, those who are almost trying to make themselves sick with that daily trip to McDonald's.

In a world where everyone is educated, everyone eats healthy, exercises, and cares and cares and cares about their friends and acquaintances, these buildings would be a paradise: a mass of brilliance and filled with people worthy of respect. Instead, we do not live in that world. We live in a world of the projects.

People are imperfect and need mentorship, hope, and fulfilling work. The current world economy is weakening even the middle classes, growing the unwashed masses. Unless the children can face a future of opportunities, to be educated, and to learn how to work hard (within sensible bounds), these buildings are pure fantasy of the very rich. The communities that will build and live in them do not exist.
posted by niccolo at 5:08 PM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I think he was being an artist.

I am all for conservation or ecology or environmentalism—no scratch that no "isms"—but the art is real.

Meaning, it doesn't have to be what it says it is. It only has to be what it is.
posted by humannaire at 9:20 PM on February 27, 2011

Callebaut? No chocolate? I was expecting chocolate houses. Or something.
posted by Goofyy at 7:29 AM on February 28, 2011

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