Humanoid columns support conceptual skyscrapers designed to never go out of style
Graduate shows 2015: human statues support the floors of these conceptual towers by graduate Alice Theodorou – part of a 10,000-year masterplan that anticipates nuclear war and city-wide flooding (+ slideshow).
Theodorou, a graduate from the architecture programme at the Royal College of Art, developed the proposal for the Mount Pleasant Mail Centre in London – a site where architectural style is considered the most important feature of any new building.
Designed to endure for the next 10 centuries, Theodorou's proposed skyscrapers aim to avoid style by adopting some of the oldest architectural elements in history – atlantes and caryatids, which are columns sculpted into the forms of huge male and female figures.
These gigantic statues take the place of a traditional architectural framework, supporting the various floors.
"In order to ensure the relevance of my scheme over multiple generations, the building favours the endurance of the human form over the fleeting nature of architectural style," explained Theodorou.
"I discovered that one of the oldest artefacts ever discovered is a figurine of a woman estimated to be over 40,000 years old. Carved from mammoth ivory, this depiction of the human form resonates with current generations just as it must have done when it was created," she told Dezeen.
Bearing the title The Future Will Just Have to Wait, the project suggest that the next 10,000 years will see numerous challenges for London, from flooding caused by rising sea levels to population growth and the collapse of the European Union.
Theodorou has visualised her buildings lasting out each of these scenarios.
"If architectural treasures are the milestones of human progress, our ruined monuments will stand as a testament to our civilisation long after we're gone," explained Theodorou.
"This alternative proposition poses the question: if a building can be designed with the premise of standing for 10,000 years, what other generational scale questions will it begin to suggest?"
The starting point for the project was the controversy surrounding the current redevelopment plans for Mount Pleasant, which was once the largest sorting office in London. Despite fierce opposition, London mayor Boris Johnson approved plans for a luxury housing development on the site in 2014.
Theodorou attended several meetings of a charity seeking an alternative plan for the site. But she became frustrated that the main talking point of these meetings was architectural style rather than long-term strategy, so decided to develop her own proposal.
"As the capital continues to undergo widespread redevelopment, the need to question the short-term, financially driven strategies employed by developers has become of paramount importance," she said.
The designer's suggested alternative will initially accommodate both residential and commercial spaces. She believes these uses will eventually become irrelevant, and has designed the buildings to be adaptable.
The atlantes and caryatids also appear to evolve towards the uppermost floors of the towers.
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"The building exhibits the evolution of the human form as a reminder of our temporality, and is an expression of how the body is anticipated to evolve in the future to become taller, more culturally uniform, and more androgynous," added Theodorou.
The project was developed as part of the ADS4 unit at the RCA, tutored by Nicola Koller and Tom Greenall. Students were asked to develop an alternative future scenario for a number of sites in London.
It was on show earlier this month as part of Show RCA 2015 graduate exhibition, which also included a conceptual risk theme park and a tax haven of islands populated with extinct animals.