Looking to combat what he sees as the monotony of modern skyscraper design, Russian businessman Vasily Klyukin—who made his millions in banking and real estate, and is "keen on architecture," according to his Wikipedia page—has released a book called Designing Legends, in which he hopes to present himself doing just that. And what constitutes a legend, in the mind of this design fan and conceptual skyscraper futurist? 'Scrapers in the shape of space shuttles, towers modelled after Venus de Milo, massive sets of lips sitting in the Nevada desert that say "Marilyn" on them. In his book, published last September in Italy and slated to come to the rest of the world in June, this list of skyscrapers-as-other-things continues through 50 different ideas, all rendered in different locales.
Given the current glut of skyscrapers shaped like other things—China alone has a giant ethereal lotus flower, a horseshoe hotel, and a coin-shaped stock exchange; while the realm of conceptual renderings is an unending parade of form-mimicking structures—Klyukin's prescription for the monotony of the modern skyline might be a well-trodden path that ends in gimmickry. Which isn't to say that his protestations aren't valid. According to Co.Design, Klyukin's problem with the current culture of skyscraper design is that new ones simply compete for two things: to be the world's tallest or its most luxurious. New towers come along and unseat old ones in either category, keeping our cities locked in pointless, architecturally phallocentric oneupmanship, with buildings reflecting very little of the character of their settings.
Certainly a valid criticism—especially given One World Trade's inclusion of a tower-topping spire just to become, for a time, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the pointless race to top the Burj Khalifa—but situating a building shaped like Venus de Milo on the actual beaches of Milos might not be the answer here. But who are we do shut down a dreamer? According to Co.Design, Klyukin bought a building in Monaco last year, which he wants to be the site for one of his creations. Also, he paid $1.5M to go to space with Leonardo DiCaprio on Virgin Galactic later this year ("I want to be a bit daring," he told Reuters) which is definitely a sign of someone with a love for the grounded and the realistic, things that most definitely aren't all flash and no substance.
Klyukin began dreaming up his future towers when living in Moscow's first residential skyscraper. "While I was there, I watched 10 other towers fill the skyline, and I started wondering what kind of skyscraper I would build, given the opportunity," he told Co.Design. From the look of things, his imaginings might have best been left in the realm of childhood fantasy.
· Astronaut Designer Imagines 32 Skyscrapers Of The Future [Co.Design]
· All On the Books posts [Curbed National]