Altered Carbon Architecture — finding inspiration in today’s radical concepts

Noaa
Noaa
Mar 18, 2018 · 3 min read

There’s been a lot of buzz around Altered Carbon, many people comparing it to Blade Runner and with a good reason. The streets feel the same way they did in Blade Runner: crowded, wet, dirty, lit with colored neon commercials signs and a bit overwhelming. But Altered Carbon is a different animal, something more like a hybrid. After the initial feeling wears off and the parallels start to fade (mostly due to the twists and turns of this peculiar story) we get to look at this world with new eyes.

I initially started writing this with three reference movies in mind: Metropolis, Akira and Cloud Altas, especially the first one because of the clear segregation of the city — the extremely rich living high above the clouds in a world seamlessly without problems.

Metropolis (1927). The tower dominates the city with it’s massive presence.

But on taking a second look at the show I started to make mental references to different architectural concept projects I saw in recent years and there are quite a few.

The production team did something quite special in this case and I thoroughly enjoyed it: they took inspiration from architectural competition entries — projects that not only were never built but that are so out there, so different and so radical in what they propose that they probably will never see the light of day (pretty much like Archigram back in the day).

The first and most obvious one is the parametric tower above the clouds.

Parametric tower, residence of the Bancroft family (screenshots from Netflix’s Altered Carbon S01 E01)

I believe its inspiration is drawn from Voronoi Morphologies, particularly from a concept project for eVolo 2011 competition called “Hydra-Tesla Research Facility”. More on the project here.

Hydra-Tesla Research Facility / Milos Vlastic, Vuk Djordjevic, Ana Lazovic, & Milica Stankovic

In the same frame with this main tower there are a couple other skyscrapers, one of them caught my eye the second time around.

Tower above the clouds (screenshots from Netflix’s Altered Carbon S01 E01-E03)

It was inspired by the Analemma Tower, a concept developed by the New York-based Clouds Architecture Office and it is better known as the supertall hanging skyscraper. More on the project here.

Analemma Tower, concept developed by Clouds Architecture Office

Last but not least is the Golden Gate Bridge (Hollywood has overused this bridge in sci-fi) parasitized by container like houses.

Golden Gate Bridge with loaded with box-like houses (screenshots from Netflix’s Altered Carbon S01 E01-E03)

A similar concept of building houses on a bridge was developed by Ja Studio also for the eVolo competition, called Modern Ponte Vecchio. More on the project here.

Modern Ponte Vecchio is an Informal City / Ja Studio

And a small bonus:

screenshot from Netflix’s Altered Carbon S01 E02

This time influence was taken from the recently completed apartment building in NY city by Zaha Hadid Architects.

520 west 28th building by Zaha Hadid Architects.

I’m pretty sure there are more references to be found there, but this is what struck me as obvious as soon as I saw them.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store