Daniel Dociu.  Under Tomorrows Sky.  Concept Art. 2012

Daniel Dociu. Under Tomorrows Sky. Concept Art. 2012

Daniel Dociu. Under Tomorrows Sky. Concept Art. 2012

Hovig Alahaidoyan. Under Tomorrows Sky. Concept Art. 2012

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain." 
— Blade Runner

Apocalyptic scenarios have the tendency to direct our look towards the future: conflicts and tensions of the immediate present that have escalated beyond recall. However, the future lies within the past.

Architecture has always been a discipline for speculations about said future—immediate or distant. As such, buildings and dwellings, supporting the very state of human existence, are always already loaded with a potential that sways between utopian euphoria and dystopian despair.

Under Tomorrows Sky (2013), a project conceived by speculative architect and theorist Liam Young in collaboration with MU Gallery and the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennial, takes a similar approach to generating visions of a future city. A think tank of scientists, technologists, futurists, illustrators, science fiction authors and special effects artists had their hands and minds in dreaming up a fictional narrative that despite being projective of the future may not be too distant.

Take the gargantuan architectural mega-structures in Daniel Dociu's "Urban Tectonic" series, whose visuals of an overwhelming widespread urban fabric are reminiscent of metallic, concrete exoskeletons, breaking open to reveal a soft interior, glowing in red—where the biological and the technological have morphed into one. It is impossible to discern the pre-existing geology from the constructed city here, sometimes even impossible to make out whether urban elements are being built or have been destroyed.  

Whereas humanity seems to have completely dissolved into post-human entities in Dociu's visions, the visual narrative of concept artist Hovig Alahaidoyan focuses on the inhabitants of such incomprehensible behemoths. Descriptive sentences that accompany his sketches demonstrate the full spectrum of thoughts that went into Under Tomorrows Sky: "the city’s inhabitants scavenge on the mudflats in the shadow of industry," or, "by night the city glows with the colors of Bollywood."

Fast forward three years from the moment Young, Dociu, Alahaidoyan, and the others conceived of Under Tomorrows Sky. The year is 2016. The Venice Biennial of Architecture, a survey of contemporary and global tendencies, recently demonstrated that the city of tomorrow might inadvertently slip into making dark visions à la Blade Runner a reality while pushing thoughts and actions to prevent the impending.

Another three years from now, Los Angeles 2019. The city acts as a stage for Ridley Scott's post-apocalyptic movie Blade Runner, showcasing a vision that echoes even more than thirty years after its initial release, traces of which can be found in the representation of Under Tomorrows Sky. Is the future of the past, as told in Scott's masterpiece, now more contemporary than ever? The story told about the Tannhauser Gate, a fictional place in the movie's universe, not reminiscent of the hostile urban environment in Dociu's and Alahaidoyan's drawings?

Text by Clemens Finkelstein | S/TUDIO