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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another World Architecture : The Ultimate Work of Sir Norman Foster

Another World Architecture is my attempt to combine two of my favorite things in life : architecture and comic books-which is one of the reason why this blog exists in the first place. Under this label, I will try to write about the sometimes silly and always awesome architecture in the comic book world. There are always interesting building in the comic book world ; from the small apartment of Peter Parker in New York to the hi-tech tower that is the Baxter Building, from the dark dungeon of Doctor Doom in Latveria to the majestic royal palace of Wakanda.

And that's from Marvel alone.

Don't worry Marvel-haters, I will of course do some things with the architecture from DC Comics and other publishers as well. Who wouldn't wanna see the layout of Clark Kent's apartment? Or the Batcave? Or the "psyche-tecture" of Mr.X? Or Astro City?

I also plan to someday include architecture in the video game world but right now I don't have time to play video games anymore so maybe it will be very rare to do an article from a video game.

Let's begin our first installment!

Ask any architecture students or any architects you can find, chances are you're going to find they can tell you at least a thing or two about who Sir Norman Foster is. Even better, you may also find they mention two or three of his most famous works; be it the Central Office of Willis, Faber, & Dumas, or the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank. But I'm willing to bet that they have never heard of his work in Manhattan, New York. A multi story, super hi-tech building called The Triskelion.


This is building doesn't exist in our world. It exists in the Marvel Ultimate Universe. For those of you not in the know, the Ultimate line is Marvel Comics' attempt to refresh their legendary icons in order for them to stay hip, current, and up-to-date in the 21st century. Our beloved Marvel heroes are being revamped, reintroduced as if they were new, and given new lives free from baggages of history and years of continuity. Indonesian readers perhaps remember when these titles are translated into Bahasa Indonesia several years a go-Ultimate X-Men and Ultimate Spider-Man. They were around for several issues before completely disappeared from the market.

The Marvel Ultimate Universe doesnt't necessarily replace the Marvel Universe proper though. The "classic" Marvel Universe (or "Earth-616" for us geeks) still exists and some might say becoming even better because of (or despite of) the appearance of the younger, fresher universe.

Anyway, enough with the backstory, let's return to the topic. In the Ultimate Universe, the Avengers that we all know and love is technically not a super-hero team, at least not in the traditional sense. They are formed by SHIELD (Strategic Hazard Intervention, Espionage, Logistic Directorate) to counter the growing number of "super-terrorism" after the event of 9/11. These super-soldiers are not even called superheroes, but rather "PMD" or "Persons of Mass Destruction". It is of course, as opposed to "WMD" or "Weapons of Mass Destruction".

In the third story arc, the U.S government even sent the team to Iraq in the current invasion. Apparently, George Bush of the Ultimate Universe thought why risk sending thousands of soldiers to invade a country when a dozen people can achieve the same results?

Perhaps writer Mark Millar (who loves to pepper his comicbooks writings with socio-political themes) intended to satirize our current culture and condition. Be it the war in Iraq mentioned above, or even the celebrity worship phenomenon we currently see everyday. As the premiere superhero team, The Avengers gain a rather luxurious treatment ; a toy line, magazine and TV interviews, a planned feature film, and yes, a kick-ass headquarters.

And this HQ is designed by none other by Sir Norman Foster himself and it's called the Triskelion.

The scan above is from Ultimate Avengers #1, cover-dated October 2009. The establishing shot of the Triskelion under re-construction. The building is almost demolished during the last bru-ha-ha with Magneto in the event called Ultimatum.

And this dialogue between Ultimate Nick Fury (modeled after a famous actor who then portrayed him in a cameo in two recent Marvel films, can you guess who?) and Hawkeye is the proof of who is the designer of this tower.

It's ironic to see that someone like Nick Fury still thinks design work is a luxury and feeling a little overcharged by Sir Norman like some newly-rich Indonesian people who thinks that paying an architect is merely paying for a worthless picture and an architect's work is secondary compared to...uh sorry. Got a little carried away there!

Come on, Nick! Good design is good business!

Alright, now that I'm feeling better, let's see the interior!

I say the deck and the steel frame is quite convincing to give us the impression of a Foster design. An impression of futuristic, neo-constructivist style that is his trademark although the frame kind of reminds me of Calatrava a little

While this style can give us a cold, unfriendly, industrial feeling but oh,! Ultimate Sir Norman can also give us a warm, cozy, and yet minimalistic interior office design... minimalistic that the table looks like my 6th grade school desk.

Or perhaps Ultimate Sir Norman DID overcharge for his design work that it hurts the furniture budget.

So, what do you think? Although if it's up to me, I'd rather have Calatrava or Hadid to design my superhero HQ!

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  1. Tip: If possible please do enlarge your uploaded image? Can't reading the words in the pic. =).

    p:s/ following u on networkedblog, please do mine too thanks!


  2. I'm sorry for the inconvenience but have you tried clicking the picture thumbnails(s)? It will enlarge the picture so that you can read the text within. Maybe I'll put something like 'click the picture to enlarge it' in the future. Thanks for the tip and i'll follow you blog for sure!


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