Architectural Horror?
August 17, 2014 5:41 PM   Subscribe

I love looking at photos of buildings or cityscapes that are so ornate, intricate, or overbuilt as to give me a sense of vertigo and/or looming existential horror. Things like the Kowloon Walled City or aerial views of Shanghai or, to a lesser extent, the new Executive Office building in DC. What else is out there? I'm interested in any or all eras and styles.
posted by capricorn to Grab Bag (31 answers total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
There's actually a photographer, Robert Polidori, who I think captures what gets you about those photographs in almost everything he does - at first I thought the Walled City photo was his. One book of his, Metropolis, may be of particular interest to you.

If you think you can get the same feeling from a drawing instead of a photograph, you may be interested in the work of Lebbeus Woods, who did very architectural work, but sort of uncanny valley stuff. As far as I know, the only thing he drew that ever got close to being built was the interrogation chair from 12 Monkeys.
posted by LionIndex at 5:56 PM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

St. Basil's Cathedral has always affected me that way, in part because it seemed so amazingly out of place.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:01 PM on August 17, 2014

Antoni Gaudí's Sagrada Família in Barcelona (google image search).
posted by drlith at 6:04 PM on August 17, 2014

You might also like some German Baroque church interiors.
posted by LionIndex at 6:08 PM on August 17, 2014

the monstrosity that is the Duomo of Milan comes to mind.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:16 PM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just about any shot of a favela will probably hit the spot.
posted by googly at 6:51 PM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just FYI, that's the Old Executive Office Bldg you linked to. The new one is a bland modernist piece of crap.
posted by OmieWise at 7:00 PM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not real-life architecture, but your question immediately made me think of this insane SimCity 3000 video, which I originally read about on the blue. Shots of "actual" cities start out around 2:40, with the real jackpot around 5:20, and you get a bonus overly epic soundtrack plus random occult imagery to further induce "looming existential horror"!
posted by sigmagalator at 7:20 PM on August 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Not photos but you might like Piranesi.
posted by sepviva at 7:28 PM on August 17, 2014

Not photos but you might like Piranesi.

Specifically his Carceri drawings (make-believe prisons).
posted by LionIndex at 7:33 PM on August 17, 2014

The Jaipur Honeycomb building
posted by psoas at 7:38 PM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Palace of the Parliament gives me the willies.
posted by Mr Mister at 7:56 PM on August 17, 2014

Louis Kahn's assembly building in Dhaka may fit your criteria. It is an enormous building in the Brutalist style.

Also, take a look at the work of Michael Wolf, specifically, The Architecture of Density.

And finally, the Place Bonaventure in the middle of Montreal. The photos do not do this building justice- it is absolutely enormous, and on the inside, has incredible amounts of empty space. At over 3 million sq ft, wikipedia claims " the second largest commercial building in the world at the time of its completion in 1967."

Also, maybe the Tower of David in Caracas, a building that was abandoned and colonized by squatters.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 7:57 PM on August 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I definitely felt that way the first time I saw the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom).
posted by neushoorn at 9:28 PM on August 17, 2014

ooh I got that exact feeling from looking down at Caesar's Palace from our room at the Venetian in Vegas. The weird stretched out roman architecture creeped me out so much I had to stop looking at it.
posted by astrid at 9:44 PM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ryan Koopmans is another photographer who captures that uncomfortable cityscape feeling well. Also, if you're open to something non-visual, China Miéville does a great job of building a sense of existential dread about a monstrously large train station in Perdido Street Station.
posted by neushoorn at 2:10 AM on August 18, 2014

How about the plans for the rebuilt capital of the Thousnad-Year Reich? The Volkshalle and Deutsches Stadion (Minecraft rendering) feel particularly revolting to me.

For a real-life example, North Korea's 150,000-seat stadium might also do, given its main purpose of hosting celebrations glorifying the Kims' brutal dynasty. And we might as well mention the Ryuyong Hotel in Pyongyang (Google image search).
posted by hangashore at 5:36 AM on August 18, 2014

OmieWise: Just FYI, that's the Old Executive Office Bldg you linked to. The new one is a bland modernist piece of crap.

Yes, of course you're right! I work a couple blocks from the thing, don't know what I was thinking.
posted by capricorn at 5:54 AM on August 18, 2014

I don't know of any good pictures of it, but since I know you live in DC, walking down C Street SW between 12 and 14th (between the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, I think) gives me a vertigo like feeling. The buildings aren't ornate, so it's a slightly different feeling, but it makes me feel queasy in a similar way. Definitely plenty of looming existential horror.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:06 AM on August 18, 2014

Buffalo City Hall and Moscow State University might fit your criteria
posted by OrangeDisk at 7:44 AM on August 18, 2014

capricorn, check your MeMail.
posted by emilypdx at 4:42 PM on August 18, 2014

Michael Wolf's series architecture of density, industrial, and paris roof tops might be of interest.
posted by megamanwich at 5:52 PM on August 18, 2014

True Detective's Carcosa, aka Fort Macomb.
posted by invisible ink at 6:08 PM on August 18, 2014

3D printed room
posted by bitslayer at 8:15 AM on August 19, 2014

The organ room in the House on the Rock.
posted by Iridic at 11:44 AM on August 19, 2014

Brutalist architecture would definitely fit the bill.
posted by tully_monster at 10:49 AM on August 22, 2014

I don't think a lot of brutalism does it for me because plenty of it is pretty minimalist (#notallbrutalists?) but Habitat 67 from the first photo in tully_monster's link definitely does. Highlighting it here for anyone who's following along.
posted by capricorn at 1:37 PM on August 27, 2014

I don't know how I could forget the Alhambra.
posted by LionIndex at 10:31 PM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Looking for name of short film of Mexican woman's...   |   Word association: Fairy Tale Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.