Knotting into Dishonored’s decaying city

Heterotopias is a series of visual investigations into virtual spaces performed by artist and writer Gareth Damian Martin. /// There is no such thing as a total vision of a city. Statistics, guidebooks, politicians, newspapers, tourists, maps, and surveys like to suggest otherwise, but theirs is a constricted world, an incomplete image. Those of us who live in cities know very well of their tendency to conceal and reveal themselves with unexpected rhythms, as if at random—surprising us with new configurations and revelations, shifting prism-like with the passing of time or the changing of the light. Perhaps that’s why the most…

Pattern Language

Artist uses videogame to create an “endlessly mutating death labyrinth”

The wonderful opportunity of videogames for an architect is that they allow for the creation of structures impossible to realize in the physical realm. Sure, for many years, pen and paper has offered the same deal, but not quite. Software lends itself to a virtual space that can be freely explored from different angles, and it has systems that allow for easy tweaking of any architectural arrangement—the possibility of stretching a series of buildings into infinity seems that much more plausible in virtuality. writhing with unstable animation Peter Burr, a New York-based artist with a keen interest in creating spaces…


BalanCity asks you to build the world’s most misguided city

BalanCity is a diamond in the rough. The menus and presentation of the game leave a lot to be desired, but the actual game, the act of balancing hospitals atop skyscrapers without accidentally sending your whole city into the ocean, is about as compelling as city-building gets. It’s no SimCity (2013), but no one seems to have told BalanCity that. Hence it tasks you with the typical challenges of a city-builder. You have to keep your approval rating high or people will protest in the streets of your unbalanced city. And you’ll need to keep your emergency services working to…


Oh damn, a game inspired by Albert Robida illustrations is on the way

Zipping along an elevated restaurant and opera house, there are flying cars, buses, and other ships. The sky is teeming with these vehicles, transporting Victorian-garbed folks to and from their destinations. This is the futuristic world envisioned by 19th century artist Albert Robida in Le Sortie de l’opéra en l’an 2000. This is the same world inspiring Voici, an upcoming game being created by Rotterdam-based designer Joost Eggermont. Under the backdrop of a retro-futuristic city, Voici oozes the same kind of playfulness and charm as found in many of Robida’s prescient works. Two years ago, while looking for visual inspiration,…


Bjarke Ingels’s new game is everything good and bad about his architecture

Bjarke Ingels’s portfolio can now be viewed as an online game called Arkinoid, which is an updated version of the classic (and similarly-named) arcade game, Arkanoid (1986). Of course it can—it was only ever a matter of time. That is meant as a relatively value-neutral statement, but inevitably it can also serve as a sort of Rorschach test for how you feel about the Danish architect. The whole thing is at once playful, pointless, childlike, simplistic, amusing, and glib, and whatever combination of those things that you see in the game probably also applies to the Bajrke Ingels Group’s work. All of which…


Architecture fans will want to watch out for Pavilion next week

Fourth-person puzzle game Pavilion will be released in two parts, the first of which comes to Windows, Mac, and Linux on September 22 through Steam and the Humble Store. The game will debut, however, on the NVIDIA Shield on September 15. Forgot what the fourth-person perspective was? That’s okay, I did, too. In 2014, Visiontrick Media’s Henrick Flink said on the PlayStation blog that it’s used to describe the way the player interacts with the main character; the player isn’t playing as the main character, and is not in control of him, either. “Indirect control” is used to influence, guide,…


The disjointed Prague of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Heterotopias is a series of visual investigations into virtual spaces performed by writer and artist Gareth Damian Martin. /// To me, Prague has always felt like a city uniquely in communion with the past and future versions of itself. I remember my first visit, a local friend taking me to the once mysterious, now legendary Cross Club: an amorphous labyrinth of scrap metal occupying the lower floors and basement of a decaying, communist-era panelák. Stumbling past the ubiquitous leather-clad and shorn-headed bouncers into one of its dancefloors was like wandering into a William Gibson wonderland, bubbling tubes of mysterious green liquid and angular metal…

Castles Made of Castles

Castles Made of Castles lets you easily create complex architecture

There’s a sort of serene pleasure that comes from uniform design schemes. Whether it’s a car with two identical sides, a train that could be perfectly split in half, or a skyscraper in an evenly cubical shape; orderly architecture gives off a sense of harmony and pleasure to the viewer. These endeavors are testaments to the power of organization and stability. But why should we be confined to simply enjoying these designs as onlookers? Why not create our own? Nico Disseldorp’s online project Castles Made of Castles is a love letter to orderly architecture. Described as a “geometry toy,” Disseldorp’s…


Cilvia challenges architects to treat planning as more of a game

Urban planning is a rules-based game. Participants in the planning process have goals they wish to accomplish and constraints governing how their objectives can be achieved. Nowhere is this more the case than in London, where a complex series of regulations and protected sightlines have conspired to create ungainly clusters of misshapen towers. (The Shard, anyone?) Architects are already playing the planning game, but they are playing it clumsily. That, in effect, was the conclusion the Guardian’s Oliver Wainwright and Monica Ulmanu came to in their interactive visualization of the city’s future skyline (come to think of it, that also…