Pixel City

Neon heart day-glow eyes
A city lit by fireflies
They’re advertising in the skies
For people like us…

Oh you look so beautiful tonight
In the city of blinding lights

U2, ‘City of Blinding Lights’


World Wide Web is full of weirdness, wacky stuff and reckless propaganda (not to mention the news, business reports and other pornography). Yet once in a while a wonderful thing might happen. In that world wide sea of idiocy you find a pearl. Some brilliant piece of information which is not only witty and unusual, but in a certain way expands your own vision, by presenting ideas from a different, completely unexpected angle.

In my latest essay I was describing “form & function” issue, a dilemma as old as the profession of architecture, journalism or prostitution. I ranted against the so called “digital architecture” produced by the major players such as Zaha, Gehry or Libeskind. To me their extravagant approach is no more than a shallow showbiz lacking any intellectual base in comparison with the earlier “paper architecture”.

And then I have found this piece. This is a digital architecture video, as digital as it gets… No doubt it’s done by a highly creative and gifted person, his name is Shamus Young. As I watched the clip I thought to myself: Man, clearly Shamus is not an architect, but this piece… this is Architecture… Even though there is nothing “unique” here in terms of the architectonics and the formal design, there is nothing “ground-breaking” in terms of the 3d software … but this is a real Architecture.

His unbuttoned, humorous and at the same time deep approach to the issue which in fact is just a simple presentation of a night-time cityscape amazed me. It is so… spatial, so imaginative and yet unpretentious that an “unserious” promo-clip becomes a genuine artistry. Do you remember those philosophical studies made by the great thinkers on paper and drafting table? This guy has done virtually the same in a funky fresh way in this new digital world.

As for the starchitects, they use high-tech 3d soft, create professional designs and manipulative shapes… Paradoxically it has nothing to do with the architecture. All their “stuff” is still a pompous showbiz, which will be quickly forgotten just as those business reviews, political news and other internet pornography…


So let’s enjoy the real architecture and the digital age style demonstrated not by the arrogant starchitect but by the imaginative programmer.

Welcome to the Pixel City!

P.S. One of the YouTube comments on the video says: “Will you be my boyfriend?”. I think that’s the highest mark of the appreciation for the artist. I don’t think any lady would wish to be a girlfriend of Koolhaas or Libeskind looking at their latest creations…



7 Responses to “Pixel City”
  1. Ilana says:

    so are you praising this guy’s tech ability? can this software be used by a design professional doing a study on a specific project? if, in fact, to build this kind of an animated model is a simple as this video makes it seem, this would be an unbelievable tool in the design world.

    • Decius says:

      This program doesn’t so much create one animated city, as create a different one every time it runs. It’s not quite as easy as the video makes it out to be. See Shamus’ blog, liked in the trackback, for more.

  2. Gary says:

    I’ve been saying similar things about the state of architecture for years! There is no imagination lately. No drive to create an environment, just a space. I tend to focus my architectural woes on the housing industry. Boxes with chimneys (sometimes). Nice to see a fresh take on architecture!

  3. Albert says:

    @ Twenty Sided (Shamus) – Thanks. This is the comment I’ve been waiting for 🙂

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] So when I did Pixel City I always wondered what a real architect would think of it. I would have to say that this is about the best response anyone could hope for. […]

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