The summer break is the ideal time to catch up with all the things you could not find time for while studying. First on my list was to watch the movie ‘Isle of Dogs’, written, produced and directed by Wes Anderson. In this short article I will explore alternative ways of seeing the media we use as architects, inspired by Anderson’s latest feature length visual feast.
The movie was a blast of emotions from beginning to end, but also a true revelation once the final credits had rolled and I started to find information and backstage images regarding its making process. Most striking were the similarities between the production of the movie and the scenes we find in our Model Hall .
Cinema in particular, and especially stop-motion animation, has a very close relation to the practice of architecture, in the sense that they both use the same media; models that are built with great care and detail and brought to life via video or photographic techniques to create spatial narratives.
During filming, approximately 240 different sets and 44 stages were created by the designers of the film and were used in order to convey the various sceneries of the narrative. The story is set approximately 20 years in the future, located in the fictional worlds of Megasaki City and Trash Island. Both of them are placed in the Japanese archipelago and the aesthetics of the film originate from Japanese culture. The film narrates the adventures of a12-year-old boy, Atari, in his quest to find and rescue his dog Spots after all Megasaki canines are deported to Trash Island, by Atari’s corrupt uncle, Mayor Kobayashi.
The beautiful images that Anderson brought to our screens have a strong bond with architecture as they take inspiration from the work of the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and the metabolist architecture movement, but also a project designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Tokyo. This project is the now-demolished Imperial Hotel, which is used as the prototype for the mayor’s house in Megasaki City.
However, apart from the precedents and architectural references that the set designers used in their creations, the procedure of making these models is very similar to what we see in BK City. This is especially true in some of the Chairs of the Architecture Track, for example Interiors, Buildings, Cities or Form & Modelling Studies where similar scale models are built to explore the qualities of space, its materiality and relation with light and shadow. Simultaneously, by the means of video and photography, students visualise the essence of the spaces they design while also exploring new possibilities and details. Apart from the chairs mentioned above, there is also an independent course – MOOC by TU Delft called ‘Models in Architecture – Design through Physical & Digital Models’.
So if you, dear reader, find yourself triggered by this article and interested in this kind of experimentation, it would be a great opportunity to get informed about the upcoming studios and courses of BK that can provide you with the chance to work in a similar way.