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Thoughts on urban planning, city design, architecture, the built environment, social issues, Seoul, Korea, and soon... London

30.5.04

Rant on 'Artist' Renderings 

In Korea, the large 'artist' renderings hung on the barriers at construction sites often depict the buildings-to-be in a fantasy world of lush greenery, vehicle-free streets and smiling pedestrians under a bright blue sky.

This idyllic land couldn't be further from the reality of a Korean city, especially Seoul. There isn't any greenery, the streets are usually congested with cars and pedestrians, packed onto sidewalks - if there are any, choke on exhaust fumes and "yellow dust". The sky is seldom blue, but rather more a yellowish gray -- the same color the building will be tinted with in two-year's time (of course not pictured).

These artistic renderings, moreover, do not usually show the building-to-be in relation to others around it. It is often an isolated 'work', glorified for itself (even if the design is simply of a drab box). The building is not depicted in its future cramped quarters, either outweighed by a neighboring box or itself towering over a decrepit, hunched over cement block thrown up within a week in the 1960s. The rendering does not show the ragged tents or umbrellas of the vendors that will sit in front of it.

The happy-happy land in these renderings hide the toxic materials used by megaconstruction firms, the corners cut in engineering, and the shabbiness the building will inevitably be in just a few short years. The do not reveal neither the the drab, stale and poisonous air its users will breathe day in and day out nor the personality-less interior where workers will be made drones.

The artist renderings lie. The builders lie.

And then there are the accompanying nature pictures that are to intimate that the building and the builder are conscious of nature.

Builders, pedestrians! A picture of a tree does not make a project environment-friendly.

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