Life in Technicolor: 11 trippy visions of the future by student architects

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Kaleidoscopic cacophony.’
Kaleidoscopic cacophony.’ Illustration: Matteo Mastrandrea
Kaleidoscopic cacophony.’
Kaleidoscopic cacophony.’ Illustration: Matteo Mastrandrea

From Game of Thrones-inspired castle estates to spiralling pink robo-slides, this year’s graduate architecture shows offer a window to escapist fantasy lands

Architects might be known for wearing black, as if in permanent mourning for the lives they once had, and for spending months searching for the perfect shade of grey. But judging by this year’s student shows, that monochromatic hegemony is under threat: the next generation appears to be plotting a psychedelic revolution.

It’s taken architecture a long time to catch up with music and fashion but it finally feels as though New Rave has reached the drawing board, a decade after leg-warmers and glowsticks returned to the dance floor. From candy-coloured toy towns to eye-searing digital worlds that take their cues from early video games, this year’s graduates are sampling from vibrant visual cultures with promiscuous relish.

Their projects are more likely to riff on Monument Valley or Game of Thrones than Peter Zumthor or Gottfried Semper. There are echoes of Italian design group Memphis, with their busy patterns and paper-thin surface treatments as well as the dreamy, pastel-tinted lens of Wes Anderson. Some students have embraced comics and kids’ toys, crafting souped-up Polly Pocket worlds and dynamic action-figure terrains; others, with their carefully tuned palettes of complementary colours, have concocted spaces that would make Kim Jong-Un proud.

There are strains of the New Aesthetic and the slick, slippery visual memes beloved of post-internet art. Oozing optimism and often drenched with a synthetic, saccharine sweetness, these escapist fantasy lands could be a response to austerity or equally a reaction against years of po-faced politeness. […]

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