Science Fiction in Architecture & Design: Oscar Niemeyer

Sci-Fi Cyberpunk Buildings

Describing city scenes in the near (or far-flung ) future, on Earth or on some distant rim of humanoid colonisation can be a challenge in its own right. But Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer didn’t just conceive of his futuristic visions in the heart of the 20th century, he had the ability to bring them into physical reality. If you’re struggling for inspiration or merely curious, run a Google search on him, or browse through this well-put together collection of his work on Yellow Trace.

Here’s a wonderful photograph of Oscar Niemeyer’s home, built in Canoas (Brazil) in 1953; it became the Oscar Niemeyer Foundation Headquarters in 2010.  Image by the super talented Andrew Prokos.

Sci-Fi Cyberpunk buildings oscar-niemeyer photo by andrew prokos

1950’s vision of the Future still as relevant today – image by Andrew Prokos all rights reserved

When you see work like this it is not hard to feel that the fictional worlds of Philip K Dick, William Gibson and Richard Morgan are emerging into our reality. But then again, when you consider the date of this work, you have to wonder how much of science fiction has been pre-seeded by structural reality. Like Frank Lloyd Wright, creator of the Guggenheim – “Space is the breath of Art” – who shares the same passion for exploring the aesthetic boundaries of concrete. What new materials will shape the future? And thereby shape the future of science fiction? Or will imaginations hark back to the glorious edifices of Old History?  I wonder.

I’m always interested in the wider environment of a story setting, often developing more than I actually use in a particular novel –  but that helps me build up my concept of a single consistent Universe shared by all my novels (and later twisted through an apocalyptic event in Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur).  One of the foundation planks of my near future world is the failure of the United Nations and the rise of the global super power UTOC: United Table of Commerce. Corporations coming together in various, public alliances (rivals engage in direct or indirect conflict), which then carve up the world and off-world colonies for exploitation – demanding local government concessions for their Fluid Investment Medium.  Here’s a scene from Iron Man Project, my 3rd novel and the first to really expand the concepts of UTOC and the Power of Eight Group.

Korda sat upright, picked up the porcelain cup, rose from the chair and strolled over to the black iron railing enclosing the balcony. Gazing down at the area of the main entrance, his eyes focussed on the Monastery. Such a beautiful structure; it really did look like a medieval fortress with its tower and battlements. The main portal had been recovered from a ruined cathedral, built in the 1600’s with a large Renaissance-inspired rosette sculpted on it, and incorporated by the designers into the façade of the building.

            May Porfirio Strotz and his hideous architectural monstrosities never come to Taormina.

           Porfirio Strotz worked for MOCID; Korda viewed him as a kind of Albert Speer character. The Hoffman Administration had decided to redevelop key areas of major cities in every UTOC territory to create a sense of unity. Strotz was the architect and designer in charge of this mad plan. Red marble facades, terracotta stone veined in green soapstone, asymmetrical shapes, in Korda’s view the man was an escaped maniac.

– Excerpt from Iron Man Project, by DAVID J RODGER

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