What is Fictional Architecture?

 The conception of a work of fiction entails the fabrication of an imaginary world. Fiction is any creative work, which tells a story, often one, which is not based in reality. Fiction can be expressed in any medium, including writing, theater, films, television programs, radio dramas, comics, role-playing games, etc.

Fictional architecture is the creation of architectural designs that do not exist in reality. Fictional architecture exists somewhere between art and architecture, where reality is paused and artistic impulses are allowed to flourish. Architecture is often seen as a way to communicate a story, and the same can be said for writing fiction. What about the stories that feature buildings? Fictional buildings have been used for a variety of purposes in literature, from providing a setting for historical events to providing a backdrop for futuristic or fantastical stories. They are also used as metaphors for characters’ psyches, embodying philosophical ideas. The whimsical projects operate within the realm of fact and fiction, exploring new architectural possibilities

Significance and Impact of Fictional Architecture

The buildings around us age and eventually become obsolete. They represent and symbolize tales of life and death. Fictional architecture can be both concrete and ethereal, but it has a real impact on the way people think. Some structures tell us a lot about who we are, what our achievements have been, how our beliefs have changed, what technological advances have been made, and how things have changed over time. Fiction may be recreated physically through a constructed form. A timeline can be created to help determine essential events from a story. The knowledge of how space interacts with the user and the relevance of each story behind every narrative-driven setting is analyzed and learned through a detailed study of fictional architecture.

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Process of Architectural Design described by Coate_©C, J. (2022). AN INTERACTIVE STORY THROUGH BUILT SPACE.pdf.

Moreover, metaphors have a greater intellectual value and can be used as a scientific approach in architecture to assist people in understanding the semiosis and symbolization processes. Culture needs to be able to see the important concepts in its ethos easily. In the built environment, significant architecture stands out as a significant point of reference with symbolic meaning. Efforts to demonstrate the use of symbols and metaphors in modern architecture using certain vague concepts drawn from postmodernist thinkers are more of an “intellectual costume” rather than a genuine method because symbolism has been utilized in the art for ages.

The great technological and materialistic advancements of today enable us to see fictional spaces in actuality.   Based on the imagination, fiction in architecture allows for the creation of more participatory and engaging settings. The likelihood of interacting with others via varied minds from various cultures is greater than the likelihood of encountering a predictable design. Parallel universes, science fiction, fantasy, and superhero fiction are all notions that can be applied to reality in novel ways. Some new and cutting-edge techniques and technology, like as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, virtual reality, etc. can assist architects in incorporating fiction into their designs.

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Diagram representing the relationship between Architecture and Fiction_©https://issuu.com/ruchitakanpillewar/docs/ma_thesis_ruchita_kanpillewar.

Design Fiction

Fiction genres include speculative fiction, fantasy, futuristic fiction, science fiction, dystopian, utopian, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, fairy-tale fantasy, and so on. Many fictional works produced in the twenty-first century are the result of the intertwining of multiple genres. The goal of fiction is to create an immersive experience that is believable and inspiring. Design fictions are often more practical than science fiction, relying more on active participation from the audience. One thing all design fictions have in common is that they can all be explained using a simple fictional rule: an imaginative, perhaps impossible “what if” scenario. Different people or groups have imagined what the future could be like in these fictional universes. Some of these universes depict utopian societies, while others depict dystopian worlds in which human beings are struggling. Design fiction explores the subject of how to design scenarios that can be used to explore different futures by investigating the relationship between fiction and experimentation to better understand it. Fiction is commonly thought of as an aspect used to enrich a novel or a film but it has the potential to improve significant elements of architecture. The use of concepts such as idealism improves the quality of design and expressiveness of the space. These concepts allow for more expressiveness and connection to the users.

An Instance of Design Fiction

Archigram: The Plug-in City was a series of smaller projects and ideas that were explored between 1962 and 1964. It was an innovative approach to urban planning, and it represented a new way of thinking about how cities could be designed. The topics described in Archigram 2 and 3 booklets gradually collected approval justifications for expendable buildings: “it was thus unavoidable that we should study what happens if the entire urban environment can be programmed and arranged for change,” wrote Peter Cook. Plug-In City first appeared in Archigram Issue No.4 (1964) as a “speculative series of concepts for a computer-controlled city built for change with removable pieces connected into a “megastructure” service framework.”

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Archigram’s Plug-In City Concept_© by Peter Cook via Archigram Archives.
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Archigram’s Plug-In City Concept_© by Peter Cook via Archigram Archives.

The recycling of resources and materials is one of the most important issues of contemporary life; Plug-In City would have failed to meet the new requirements of an environmentally conscious society. The concept of their project relies on outdated information despite their best efforts to see into the future; it was conceived at a time when human impacts on the decline of natural systems were not yet fully understood. The scheme has been criticized for being environmentally unsustainable, but it has an interesting approach to social sustainability. The social sustainability approach to living is based on the idea to strive for a lifestyle that does not rely on increasing wealth but instead decreases consumerism. Plug-In City, Archigram designed houses that are small and simple, providing the same level of comfort and convenience to everyone living there.

Archigram’s Plug-In City Concept_©by Peter Cook via Archigram Archives

Even though a majority of Archigram’s proposals were never built, its conceptual contribution to the progress of architecture is enormous. The impact of Plug-In City may be observed in the work of today’s world-class architects, such as the well-known Centre Pompidou in Paris designed by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano. Plug-In City is perhaps a remarkable example of the architectural avant-garde of its day. The thoughts and pictures depicted in it were extreme, but they were symbolic of a period of rapid development and thriving technology and modernism that was to come.

Open Conclusion

Architecture usually conveys a story of some spirit. The quality of output space distinguishes the similarity of a commonly planned area to the fictional narrative-driven design. The ability of space to interact with its users has a significant impact and improves the experience of such a place.



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6) designboom | architecture & design magazine. (2015). fictional architecture | art and design news and projects. [online] Available at: https://www.designboom.com/tag/fictional-architecture/.


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