Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Future Landscape of London

Filmmaker Jonathan Gales calls his short film "Megalomania" a "response to the state of infrastructure and capital." Why call it "Megalomania?" That word means a mental illness marked by delusions of greatness, wealth, power, and grandeur.

London has, over the last 20 years or so, experienced, and still is experiencing a boom in its skyline. Witness the construction of monuments like the Millennium Dome and 30 St. Mary Axe (also referred to as "The Gherkin"). And nearing completion in Southwark near London Bridge is The Shard (seen below), a Renzo Piano-designed 95-story, mixed-use building that, even in its present unfinished state, is currently the tallest building in the EU. It is scheduled to open to the public this year, in June, 2012.

But the London of this film seems to be far off in the future...a cautionary tale indeed. This is a future where the money has run out, there is no more room, half-completed structures are torn down to make way for other, newer buildings, and people have to create make-shift habitats out of old buildings. It reminds me of current day Hong Kong or even Dubai, a city possessed by a true architectural megalomania, over-reaching and delusional. Just look at the disaster that is the Burj Dubai, or the Burj Khalifa as it is now known.

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