Building for the Future

Architecture Graduate from the Royal College of Art Designs Skyscraper to Last 10,000 Years

Do you ever get the feeling that no sooner are certain buildings completed, they are being torn down? Ugly skyscrapers overpopulate cities the world over, with projected lifespans that are pitiful compared to architecture of times gone by. The Future Will Just Have to Wait, is Royal College of Art graduate, Alice Theodorou’s thesis, which devises a huge building on a controversial development site in central London.

Alice’s towering structure, heavily influenced by classical architecture and sculpture, so as not to go out of fashion, has been designed to stand for 10,000 years. “This prolonged construction sequence aims to promote long-term thinking in the planning and development of our cities by existing as a constant reference point within the ever-changing urban fabric,” explains Alice.

“The building addresses generational-scale questions and sets the agenda for sustainable growth.”

The striking designs heavily feature caryatids and atlantes i.e. human-shaped sculptures which are used as supports in place of columns. Alice says this is to serve as a reminder of the evolution of the human form and to make us reflect on our temporality.

She explained the project in greater depth:

The Plus: What was the inspiration for the project?
Alice Theodorou:
The development plans for the Mount Pleasant Sorting Office became increasingly covered by the media when Boris Johnson approved a controversial design for the site, despite fierce opposition from local councils Islington and Camden.
I became increasingly frustrated with the fact that the argument had become fundamentally about architectural style and not about a long-term strategy for the site. So in stark contrast, I decided to produce an alternative proposal considered within the context of a 10,000 year masterplan.

TP: A lot can happen in 10,000 years, how did you plan for that?
I factored in projections for population growth and then decline, rising sea levels, stricter energy targets, material depletion, future space exploration and language obsolescence. In each scenario, I have tried to illustrate the implications of these challenges in order to address how the scheme will need to respond and adapt over time, in order to remain relevant as conditions change.

TP: Why did you choose to use human sculptures in the design?
In order to ensure the relevance of the scheme over multiple generations, the building favours the endurance of the human form over the fleeting nature of architectural style, utilising the caryatids and atlantes as a tool for reinforcing the ambitions of the scheme.
The figures are also evocative. The lead statues that inhabit the pit of the nuclear fallout shelter, pay homage to the depletion of this resource, as well as represent solidarity, uniformity and protection in the face of danger.