A Future City From The Past, Clemens Gritl
A Future City From The Past
In the series A Future City From The Past, Clemens Gritl builds concrete buildings inspired by the dystopian universe of J.G Ballard. These brutalist megastructures explore the influence of monumental architecture on a society and its human beings.
Concrete urban utopy
High-Rise is a 1975 novel by British writer J. G. Ballard, third of the so-called ‘urban trilogy’. The story takes place in the outskirts of London where high-rise buildings were built. Following the model of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation (Housing Unit), these buildings are organized as independent systems with all the necessary services. 1000 apartments spread over 40 floors, the tenth containing dozens of services offered to the population such as bakeries, swimming pools, stores, schools, banks, gyms and restaurants. Moreover, the floors are divided according to social class. The architecture of these high-rise buildings is hierarchical: the less well-off class will live in the lower floors, the middle class in the mid-rise floors, and the aristocratic class in the luxurious apartments on the upper floors. The alienation, the claustrophobic context, the contempt for class generated and synthesized in these residential towers very quickly encouraged social revolt and anarchy.
Brutalism and society
In the series A Future City From The Past, Clemens Gril explores models of high rise structure, to recreate an atmosphere similar to the novel. He reinterprets the architecture of the high-rise building, using only concrete and drawing inspiration from geometric structures that encourage repetition. His creations are in the form of black and white photomontage and highlight the plasticity of the raw material, and the monochrome monotony of modernist architectural motifs. These machine buildings extend as far as the eye can see in a universe of concrete and asphalt, forming a “super brutalist” megacity. A set of raw concrete sculptures that somehow refuses to become a city.
This urban distopia questions first of all the consequences that such an atmosphere could create on social relations, the impact on individuals. If it would push to a collective lethargy or on the contrary to an animosity leading irremediably to anarchy. It also questions an architectural model associated with a collective culture. Why do these structures fascinate us so much? Is it the monumentality of an architecture that is unthinkable to realize today? Or is it the imagination of an architecture inspired by a revolutionary social vision? Although the impact on human beings is difficult to quantify, the aesthetic impact on everyone is easily identifiable even if it is difficult to determine why. And this is probably part of our fascination with brutalist megastructures.
A new social type was being created by the apartment building, a cool, unemotional personality impervious to the psychological pressures of high-rise life, with minimal needs for privacy, who thrived like an advanced species of machine in the neutral atmosphere.
J.G. Ballard, High-Rise, 1975