City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

King Kong

This new image of King Kong sitting atop a 1933 New York cityscape is all over architecture and urban sites like a rash, with good reason, and this blog's not about to miss out on the action. It plays entirely to my desires of pausing the film at that point, taking control of the camera, and just wandering about this incredible simulation, possibly with an improvised non-director's commentary. I've mentioned this previously, in relation to Gangs of New York and The Warriors/video games for flâneurs. With Kong, the ravishing pixellated-yet-painterly recreation of a decent chunk of thirties New York is too compelling to ignore. Things mag has some insightful thoughts on the city and architecture generated as a side-effect of King Kong, not least the inspiration of Italian futurist art and particularly Tullio Crali's 'Nose Dive on the City' on the final, famous, fabulous dog fight around the Empire State. (As much as I find that Italian stuff fascinating, I'd have like to have seen some influence of Hugh Ferriss there too – why should Batman have the monopoly there? – perhaps that could be a 'filter' we could overlay on to the vicarious urban-architectural experience suggested above?) Elsewhere, a new favourite blog – BLDGBLOG – has further interesting ruminations inspired by Kong, on the nature of animal inhabitation of cities – an 'urban natural history' no less (as well as a variant on the film/game/model idea above). Such talk jolted me to post about a project I've been meaning to point to for a while … Discovered after my recent note on the 'paper buildings' of Shigeru Ban, Alan Morrissey's work for his architectural diploma researched the use of paper-based architecture for sustainable community development, in the context of a piece called 'Demanufacture' [more info on the RIBA President's Medals Student Award site]. His work is interesting on a number of levels – pragmatic and poetic, sustainable and imaginative – but what springs to mind here, given the dreamt evolution of the A3044 and surrounding reservoirs, are Morrissey's beautiful images of the 'trans-species inhabitation' of his architecture, recreating a home for natural forms – birds, cattle, foliage – who would reclaim the environment offered around the lattice-like paper towers.

"The space becomes a new form of implied landscape providing a rich array of textures and surfaces. This forgotten place, in turn, takes on a new sustained meaning derived from natural requirements to become useful once more. Feeding, breeding, birth and death all occur whilst the established society of the edge city exists in parallel."

Whilst not 'deep-urban' as such, with the context of Heathrow airport it's all strangely reminiscent of JG Ballard's brilliant, odd, magical novel The Unlimited Dream Company, which features all manner of fauna and flora in bizarre congress with urban fabric. The permeable form of Morrissey's imagined buildings could enable an extraordinary and profound blurred boundary between people and species various, between artificial and natural, between urban and rural, between permanence and transience.

Alan Morrissey project - Demanufacture

Alan Morrissey project - Demanufacture


3 responses to “Journal: Fauna, flora, pixels and paper”

  1. Rob Avatar

    Glad you enjoyed Al’s work. I just sent him a text to get him to swing by and take a look (I’ve yet to persuade him that RSS is a good thing!).
    p.s – you ever get anywhere with that book baton I passed you?


  2. Avatar

    Stora djur, stora städer

    I slutet på King Kong, när apan klänger sig upp på Empire State Building, kan man riktigt se hur stolta…



    ok, ian morrisey, you dream the architecture, i same… vieew my web


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