|Model of the Volkshalle (People’s Hall), Albert Speer (source)
Robert Harris’ Fatherland describes a parallel time-line in which Nazi Germany has won the Second World War, asserting its political influence across Europe. The capital of this super-nation is a reinvented Berlin, dubbed the Welthaupstadt (World Capital), its provincial architecture replaced by the fantastical visions of Albert Speer: a 400 foot tall triumphal arch, a great hall capable of hosting Nazi celebrations of over 160,000, and a grand avenue flanked on either side by the spoils of modern warfare. While a fictional thriller, Harris’ reinvented Berlin is not imagined, but based on actual plans developed by Albert Speer for the Fuhrer in anticipation of victory in the Second World War. Land was amassed, sites were cleared, soil was tested, and construction was initiated.
Thankfully, contrary to Harris’ version of history, the Germans did not win the war. Speer, implicated in war crimes, would spend the next twenty years of his life behind bars, his visions (the fictional variety as well as the architectural drawings that document his work) relegated to paper.
E. Sean Bailey
|Laser Dress, Hussein Chalayan, 2008 (source)
Architects and fashion designers share materials, techniques and methods of construction. With both groups arguably investigating enclosure however, these studies happen at different scales. Scale is possibly the critical difference between the disciplines and the root from which all other differences emerge. While fashion is typically tailored to the singular body, architecture is usually occupied by multiple people.
Though a fashion designer such as Hussein Chalayan caters to an enclosure for the singular body, his work is still able to influence architects as a result of his application of spatial thinking to the smallest scale of bodily enclosure. His Fall 2000 collection offers the classic example from his oeuvre, with dresses that transform through expansion and retraction into furniture, thereby examining how one can take their possessions with them. In his Spring 2008 collection, lasers project from a dress to expand the volume of the garment in a dynamic manner. Spring 2009’s collection creates the atmosphere of speed by generating effects that rely heavily on 3D technology. Perhaps work like Chalayan’s is so fascinating to architects because it remains simultaneously familiar and out of reach, as recognizable maneuvers are re-contextualized.
Erand de Silva
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