At the Louvre, the classical Hellenistic form of the Winged Victory of Samothrace dramatically crowns the head of the Daru staircase. In the mind of Russian architect and skyscraper futurist Vasily Klyukin, though, the 2,000-year-old Nike becomes a gleaming colossus of steel and glass, overlooking a 21st-century skyline. It is only one of many designs highlighted in Klyukin's new book, Designing Legends, a collection of 50 concept buildings that each challenge what he considers the monotonicity of skyline architecture.
According to Klyukin, he began imagining futuristic skyscrapers when living in Moscow's first residential skyscraper. "While I was there, I watched 10 other towers fill the skyline, and I started wondering what kind of skyscraper I would build, given the opportunity," Klyukin tells Co.Design.
In Klyukin's mind, the problem with designing skyscrapers is that they only compete with one another on two axes: Either they are the world's tallest skyscraper, or they are the world's most luxurious skyscraper. They are, in essence, architectural phallic symbols that do little to reflect their host city's cultural heritage; as such, what makes even the most advanced skyscrapers unique is obviated the second someone else builds an even taller or ritzier tower.
In Designing Legends, Klyukin imagines skyscrapers that, he hopes, can stand the test of time. Perhaps that's why two of his most striking towers are modeled after ancient sculptures (Winged Victory and Venus de Milo) that have been inspiring artists for thousands of years. He imagines an Aphrodite who overlooks the beaches of Milos; a Nike that stands upon the precipice of a seaside cliff, in keeping with the Winged Victory's original naval heritage. But Klyukin's inspirations do not come just from the classics. Some of his towers are designed like helical corkscrews, or spirals of architectural DNA that ascend into the sky. Minotaur-like, some of his towers have horns; others are shaped like massive sets of lips, dropped into the middle of the Nevada desert.
Although some might dismiss Klyukin as a mere conceptual artist, he intends on putting his money where his mouth is. When he moved to Monaco last year, he bought a small building, which he intends to make the site for his Monaco Comet tower.
The designer certainly appears to have the money to do so. Having made a fortune in the bank sector, Klyukin is scheduled to fly higher than any skyscraper when he travels into space on Virgin Galactic later this year. If he does the trip again a decade from now, he hopes to see some of the skyscrapers featured in Designing Legends on his way up.
Designing Legends was published in September last year in Italy by
Skira Editore; it is scheduled to be published in the U.S. and the rest of the world in June.