One of the inevitable results of being stuck inside during the ongoing pandemic is the almost fanatical desire one has to watch and read anything we can find out about people who have been through similar situations.
After watching movies like the Contagion and 28 days later, I decided to read as many books as I could find about killer viruses annihilating the world’s population in one fell swoop. I pored over The Andromeda Strain, flipped through The Plague, and finally came across the one Stephen King novel I had somehow missed reading during my supernatural and fantasy fueled teenage years, The Stand. This dark fantasy novel has seen a resurgence in popularity in the past few months (to no one’s surprise). After losing many night’s sleep after completing The Stand I decided to go for broke and reacquainted myself with all my favorite Stephen King novels. If you are a science-fiction, suspense, or fantasy fan, or even occasionally get a longing to read a good solid horror book, there’s no way you’ve missed Stephen King’s novels. His intricately woven stories are hard to fit into any one genre. They hook the reader from the first line, keeping us on our toes until that final heart-stopping sentence. His novels have been adapted into successful films, TV series, and comics, finding immense popularity in almost every format.
Having achieved amazing success as an author, would Stephen King be just as successful as an architect? What kind of buildings would he design? What would his architectural style be? Let’s try and figure it out.
Several of King’s novels have a distinctly gothic feel to them, the most famous perhaps being The Shining. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that the author certainly has a preference for Gothic-inspired buildings. The Ghent Market Hall in Belgium, designed by Robbrecht en Daem architecten and Marie-Jose Van Hee architecten is a perfect example of modern-gothic architecture. With its massive eye-catching double pitched roof and subtle play of light and shadow, there are lots to love about this structure. Another gothic-inspired building would be the Ptuj Performance Center in Slovenia by ENOTA. This 800 years old monastery and church has been through several phases, not just architecturally. Having been used as a museum, a hospital, and as social housing, the original structure has finally been renovated and transformed into a performance hall that would have appealed to King.
Stephen King’s novels are beloved amongst horror fans, would this propensity for the horror genre show up in the buildings he designed? Definitely yes. The Saya Park in South Korea by Alvaro Siza and Carlos Castanheira is breathtaking in its starkness. The structure invites visitors to indulge in a multi-sensory journey, traversing through time and space, to face their inner self. Then there’s The House of the Century designed by Doug Michels and Chip Lord with architect Richard Jost in Houston. With its unique, organic shape and large porthole windows, the house is unusual, to say the least. To put it simply it is right up Stephen King’s alley!
While King has achieved fame for his forays into almost every genre he dabbles in, the one common thread all of his novels have is their peculiarity. A dystopian town? A beloved pet transformed into a monster? A killer clown? King has always chosen singularly uncommon subjects to write about. Would his buildings follow the same ideology? Why not!
There’s Miyakonojo Civic Hall designed by architect Kiyonori Kikutake with its unusual, almost industrial appearance. The gorgeous, but almost scarily efficient Lloyd’s of London Building by Richard Rogers. The eerily monolithic Digital Beijing Building by Pei Zhu which seems like a poster child of the Brutalist movement. Then we have the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre built by architect Renato Rizzi in Poland. Its dark, sinister appearance, crafted from anthracite black bricks, could give unwary viewers nightmares when viewed in just the right setting, but the interiors are reassuringly normal. There’s also the Guangdong Museum in Guangzhou, China. Its red and black façade is beautiful yes, but also unsettling. In my opinion, any of these structures could’ve been designed by Stephen King, with their offbeat but still appealing charm.
Last, but not the least, is Kafka Castle by Ricardo Bofill in Spain. The architect is no stranger to unique and innovative designs, and this apartment complex just outside Barcelona is unusual enough to make passersby’s pause for a second look. Developed using mathematical equations, the residential structure was completed in the year 1968. With 90 apartments, a swimming pool, sauna, bars, and restaurants, the building might seem typical in some aspects, but its non-standardized design and unconventional appearance make it distinctive. Ricardo Bofill has also designed the much-lauded Walden 7 in Catalonia, Spain. This building too is not typical by any means, but it’s Kafka Castle which set the architect apart in a league of his own. The building was typical in a time when cookie-cutter houses were the norm. Almost like Stephen King, creating something which no one would even dream about.
In conclusion, I will use the words of Coco Chanel, “To be irreplaceable one must always be different.” Stephen King has proved himself to be irreplaceable as an author, I believe as an architect he would surely have surpassed himself.