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Visions of the Future in

Amar Sall


Amar Sall SAL15456981 (BA) Architecture Central Saint Martins Front Cover - Illustration of Ennis Tiles surrounding top view of Tyrell Pyramid.

“The design is the statement.” RIDLEY SCOTT


REPLICANT\rep’-li-cant\n. See also ROBOT (antique): ANDROID (obsolete): NEXUS (generic): Synthetic human, with paraphysical capabilities, having skin/flesh culture. Also: Rep, skin job (slang): Off-world use: Combat, high risk industrial deepspace probe. On-world use prohibited. Specifications and quantities — information classified

- Blade Runner, 1982, Opening Title 4

I N V E S T I G A T I N G t h e S E T S a n d T









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Visions of the Future in BLADE RUNNER:

Investigating the sets and theories constructing a city on the edge of the future.


CONTENTS 0 How can It not know what It is? \ Abstract

1 More Human than Human \

The Emergence of Architecture in Science Fiction Film

2 A Golden Land of Opportunity and Adventure \ Dystopian Visions as a product of History

3 Tears in the Rain \

Construction and Production in “Ridleyville”

4 Something a little more Radical \ Vertical Hierarchies of Built Spaces

5 Do you like our Owl? \

The Architecture of Domestic Narrative

6 Shame she won’t live, but then again, who does? \ Towards a Radical Future

7 I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe... \ Appendix of Chosen Scenes

8 Bibliography \

References & Illustrations

09 13 19 27 35 47 61 67 83 7


0 How can It not know what It is? \ Abstract


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How can It not know what It is? “George Collings argues that the relationship between visionary and technology makes it not only like “sciencefiction” but also a “very architectural matter,” while architect Jean Nouvel describes his design for the French Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1990 by referencing Ridley Scott’s Science-Fiction piece, Alien.” (David T. Fortin, 2016 on Collings (1980) and Nouvel (1990) Futuristic depictions of our cities and homes have graced the silver screen for nearly one hundred years, their architectural representation of spatial environments is what makes these visuals so relatable. Using Ridley Scott’s 1982 film, Blade Runner, as the primary case study for this piece, the intention, to delve into the topics of how filmmakers, 10

production, set and concept designers are using architects as narrators for their vision, and how we, as designers, can use sets experimental form of architectural theory. Blade Runner’s imposing domesticated structures tower over the L.A. city skyline and its futurist and postmodern influences are clearly apparent, a representation of classical, postmodern and futurist visions of of the city [Fig 1. & 2.]. Using my primary case study, I am going to explore the relationship between film, in particular Science-Fiction film, and Architecture. This text will begin to ask how we can begin to find a way to use set design and narratives as tools to analyse how we approach the future of living in our built cities. Specifically, this investigation will be questioning how the media of film, can be as structural as bricks and mortar towards the development of predictive architectures. With this research, the text will begin to analyse how narratives and performances are used to influence spaces and in turn, the residents of the spaces themselves. To structure this argument, I will also be looking at the role of mass community development and the impact the residents make on the life of the building. Masterplan

0\How can It not know what It is?

Fig 1. Syd Mead’s original concept drawing for Blade Runner’s dystopian Los Angeles at night. The intention was to retrofit an old New York Street set and bring the drawings to life.

Fig 2. Night-time shot of the futuristic film set. The old New York set transformed into a street of the future, congestion heavy, bustling with pedestrians and laden with market vendors and stalls, all lit by a sea of neon signs.


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communities and theories set by Le Corbusier, Antonio Sant’Elia and Archigram will be integral to my inquiry into understanding key architectural discussions that have influenced futuristic domiciles in film. Also, there will be case studies of buildings today used for popular culture and set design that have influenced and are influenced by film even today, such as, Unité d’Habitation, Ennis House, The Bradbury Building and Robin Hood Gardens. These key precedents allow me to present examples of real structures today whilst comparing their influences, reflections and functions in film. My methodology approach will lead into exploring how narratives can use performance and characters to explain spatial theory and inform the construction and design of new spaces. Discussing the specific case study of Blade Runner, I will break down and analyse the integral use of constructing and experimenting with performance to understand the context and function of the space. This analysis is all towards the discussion of how architecture and film can combine as an experimental tool to predict outcomes and observe how new ways of theory and construction can be achieved. I will consider different aspects 12

such as economical, geographical and psychological approaches to this topic that will aid my discussion in the lifespan of structures in relation to its inhabitants. Constantly through this piece of writing, there will be an overarching theme of asking how this combination can be a catalyst for brand new architectures. Ultimately, this piece will be questioning science-fiction film, how it presents behavioural architecture towards building the future and the effect of set-design for the built environment.

0\How can It not know what It is?



1 More Human than Human \

The Emergence of Architecture in Science Fiction Film


Visions of the Future

The Emergence of Architecture in Science Fiction Film “Blade Runner bypassed the usual, simplistic condemnation of urban sprawl by emphasizing the unexpected beauty lurking within industrial rot.” (Paul M. Sammon, 1999) Existential in its narrative and predictive in its visuals, Blade Runner (1982) remains one of the most influential pop-culture productions of the modern age. A philosophical future-noir thriller, soaked in its retrofitted, industrial surroundings, the film became a ground-breaking insight into the genre of Science Fiction and a captivating benchmark vision of the future. Based on Philip K Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968), Blade Runner provided a futuristic atmosphere like no other. Its visuals and aesthetics, rooted in deep architectural theory, with its narrative adapted from novelization, this was a project that, unbeknownst at the time, would change the face of the Sci-Fi 16

genre as we know it. A vision, sculpted and crafted by visionary director, Ridley Scott, Blade Runner, brought some of the best creative minds in Hollywood to help envisage a theoretically unattainable achievement, that was providing a setting, “in a ‘tangible’ future rather than in the obscure future of [my previous film] ‘Alien’.” [Ridley Scott, 1984]. A tale of moral crises, the film follows Harrison Ford’s “retired” Blade Runner (detective) Rick Deckard, and his search for four missing Replicants (synthetic biological androids, indistinguishable from humans) through the decaying dystopian setting of Los Angeles, 2019 [Fig 3.]. Slowly rising to cult status, the film depicted a grounded version of L.A. forty years in the future, a city covered in smog, its buildings ad-hoc, reaching for the skies and streets so densely populated, this was a vision that had never been executed at this scale on screen before. With the city, itself encompassing in its centre two large pyramid structures, the home of the film’s major genetic engineering industry, the Tyrell Corporation. Blade Runner, unlike any film before it, had managed to combine the past, present and future whilst keeping a grounded vision in a realised and real place, Los

1\More Human than Human

Fig 3. The Dystopian skyline of Los Angeles, 2019, in the distance, the Tyrell Corporation Pyramids, a symbol of of authority. This shot in particular, constructed with models built in perspective creates the illusion of an expansive sprawl.

Angeles, as Hanson wrote, “This epochal future noir classic is still a benchmark in creating an atmospheric, captivating milieu of the future.” [Matt Hanson, 2005]. Using iconic, landmark buildings such as the Bradbury Building and Frank Lloyd Wright’s, Ennis House, Ridley Scott managed to maintain and develop a richly layered piece of work that allows the film to still, decades later, remain relevant. References to Archigram’s retrofitting Trickling Towers and Antonio Sant’Elia’s Citta Nuova in Blade Runner’s conceptual outlook of the future are embedded within a combination of Postmodern and Futurist styles. In contrast to these forward-looking approaches, the film’s design reaches forty years into the past in order to look forty years ahead of itself. Setting

the narrative in a futuristic L.A. provided the production with a step above many visual sci-fi projects by having the film grounded in a place of predictive reality. Up and through the 1980s, L.A. itself was going through major changes, as was the western world. The commentary that Ridley Scott brought forth with Blade Runner was, at the time of topical importance, where was the “city” heading? “[Scott] declared that Blade Runner ‘depicts a world we’re heading down now – class separation, the growing gulf between rich and poor, the population explosion – and it offers no solutions.’” [Dietrich Neumann, 1996]. The megalopolis presented was an unwelcome sight, a run-down, rotting industrial landscape, although technologically advanced was not 17

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hopeful in visualization unlike previous decades of science fiction films. Blade Runner’s complexity and failure to catch its audience’s attention caused it to be a commercial disaster yet, critical success. In this text, I will begin to investigate particular architects, theories and case studies used in Blade Runner’s inception and execution and critique how they have helped craft a landscape vision of the future, suggested by Fortin that, “[The] film is employed to study how it might be used as a lens for analysis, by studying their ongoing narratives as reconstructions of the postmodern condition.” [David T. Fortin, 2016]. Specifically, the relationship between Architecture and Film will be explored and contextualized to understand the evolution and ultimately, ground breaking change that Blade Runner provided. Using testimonials of conceptual artists, production and set designers, film and architectural critics, and director Ridley Scott, I will highlight significant motifs and references that still hold strong today both on paper and in practicality. From studies of Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, to large scale masterplan theories of Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse and Antonio Sant’Elia’s Citta Nuova, this investigation will try to understand 18

the shifts in predictive architecture and explore its narrative and domestic use within the context of the film and the genre of Science Fiction. Using production and set designers to envisage this project alongside Rybczynski’s 17th Century comparisons of hierarchical social classes in modern cinema, can architecture in film be an experimental form of predictive science? And through this, what can Blade Runner still show us today about technology, architecture and the human condition?

1\More Human than Human



2 A Golden Land of Opportunity and Adventure \

Dystopian Visions as a product of History


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Dystopian Visions as a product of History “The early Eighties established a landscape that has hung over the past 20 years.” (Francesca Gavin & Forbin, 2016) Architecture and Film, a transcendent combination crafting unique studies of the visual and built form. A complimentary relationship that has grown through the 20th Century and continues as such today. Its pairing, famously arose in Fritz Lang’s, Metropolis (1927), a study of a distinctive built future and its impact upon an evolving society. From Lang’s revolutionary visions, the representation of architecture on the silver screen has since exponentially increased. Its function, its use as a tool for narratives, analysis, development and prediction are able to be explored to their full extent through the particular genre of Science Fiction. Forming a strong basis of philosophical and existential questioning, Science 22

Fiction in film began to develop as mainstream culture as technologies and its visual representation in cinema escalated. Space and the built environment, being of particular significance within both media and genre, playing the extremely important role of realising fictitious worlds and their surroundings whilst giving them extreme likeness and weight in relatable terms to present and past locations. An emerging visual style began to develop from after the release of Metropolis, visions of a Piranesi-esque labyrinth of cities, connecting worlds and enhanced technologies, would eventually inform the majority of science fiction projects, particularly in cinema [Fig 4.]. Its architecture, being treated like real-life structures and providing their own grounded narratives. Numerous productions asked and questioned how architectural theory and style could develop and present a striking vision of the future, one that is relatable to advance an everyday part of life. Cinema began to visualize detached realities and distorted visions of farfetched futures that were seemingly impossible, clinical and utopian. Leading up to the 21st Century, Science Fiction film developed enormously, through projects that would ultimately

2\A Golden Land of Opportunity and Adventure

Fig 4. The Piranesi inspired urban labyrinth of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) emphasizing the significance of streets in the sky as a central method of traversal in the future, built in-between and amongst skyscrapers within the built environment.

define cinema as we know it. Stanley Kubrick’s, 2001: A Space Odyssey, highlighted how integral set design was to form a realised backbone to help the audience believe in its narrative. Its constructed settings helped drive the questions of character motives, narrative directions and most importantly audience recognition, could we believe in this future? “Joy is the essential and final ingredient of science fiction, the of discovery of newness.” [Philip K. Dick, 1995]. The sixties through to the eighties provided a much-needed boom for Science Fiction productions. At a time of great economic uncertainty and strong suburbanization, all audiences needed was an insight for a hopeful and positive insight to what the future could hold. This “Golden Age” of Sci-

Fi allowed studios to create endless projects that proved box-office successes but lacked the grounded reality that was needed for a truly impactful and meaningful outlook, particularly in response to such events as the Space Race in the 60s. Films such as Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Silent Running and Star Wars helped define this era by largely developing on influences provided in the previous decades and began to craft Science Fiction not only as a genre, but a well-established movement.

“The combination of 2001 – a threshold film that presented science fiction as I thought it should – and Star Wars convinced me that there was a great 23

Visions of the Future

future in science fiction films.” (Ridley Scott, 1984) Sci-Fi films started to not only be centred on technological advances, reflective of the current pace of hardware and software evolution, or utopian visions, but began to focus on alienating what we, the viewers, deemed present and familiar. Through this defining evolution, Blade Runner stood out, a multicultural approach in combining western and eastern cultures under one setting, something never seen before. It’s production, construction, conception and execution made waves across western civilization and forever changed the vision of our futures. “Blade Runner’s fractured, unresolved narrative predicted the most pressing topics of

contemporary America, from the Japanizing of the country to urban decay, genetic engineering and environmental pollution.” [Dietrich Neumann, 1996] [Fig 5.] The source material of Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968), was written at the height of the Vietnam War in 1968, its themes carrying a resemblance of the horrors of war atrocities. Reflecting themes also concurrent with Nazi Germany, the haunting philosophical reflections on what it truly means to be human amidst an age of mass brutality. This particular influence is followed by and connected through a central focus on the life of a city stemmed from the current time period affair of suburbanization in major cities, families relocating to suburbs for a more affordable way of life.

Fig 5. The future of a mixed cultural street market envisaged in Blade Runner (1982), its central character, Rick Deckard, a frequenter of market food amongst the bustle of the city’s streets. 24

2\A Golden Land of Opportunity and Adventure

Leaving those who couldn’t make that move financially to be caught up in the detritus of a decaying city environment, exacerbated through the films 2019 setting of L.A.. Known as the “Urban Crisis”, this major civilian migration to the outer suburb area, due to taxation, provided a factual event to help create the packed, run-down, urbanized streets that are littered with the middle to low class users. The film, reflective of the movement evoked a dysfunctional, “contemporary urban wilderness,” [Stephen Rowley, 2005] that also rang true in similar commentaries in motion picture such as Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and John Carpenter’s Escape from New York. This “Crisis”, however created the culture trap, “White Flight”, with mainly families of European descent leaving the city for better lifestyles, leaving areas to become decayed and eventually become the problem of the racially mixed urban communities. Hence, a multi-cultured outlook on the design of the film’s environment provided an appeal that felt real.

“Released at the height of the Reagan era, when much of America was being lulled into a state of mindless optimism and

greed.” (Dietrich Neumann, 1996) Ultimately, these events helped influence the central direction of the production, a dystopia. The theme had never been visualized at such a scale before, aggravated by the focus on corporatism and capitalism, a heavy by-product to enforce the narrative of the future. Huge signposts of Coca-Cola and now defunct Pan Am cushion the imposing Tyrell Corporation represented by the twolarge pyramid structures that lie in the heart of 2019 L.A., the “Replicant” industry. Significance of these themes are supported and shown through the representation of their architectures. Large brutal blocks, protruding from the forest of skyscrapers littered with commercial advertisements. The economy at the time of the production didn’t allow much manoeuvrability for funding however, a budget was set of just over $21 million, with $2.5 million already invested. With this capital, and unique take on a potential society, it was important to show how to utilise design to transport the audience into the future. The design now needed to be the statement. 25


3 Tears in the Rain \

Construction and Production in “Ridleyville”


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Construction and Production in “Ridleyville” “I brought in just about my entire architectural research library…we turned the photographs sideways, upside down, inside out, and backwards to stretch where we were going and came up with a street that looked like Conan the Barbarian in 2020.” (Lawrence G. Paull, 1992)

Burbank Studios at the Warner Bros. Lot in California [Fig 6.] became the architectural ground zero for the project, with practical sets constantly being built and retrofitted, later becoming named after director Scott, “Ridleyville”. Scott drafted and drew many of the films conceptual vistas himself, a trained painter and set designer, with help from “visual futurist” Syd Mead, production designer Lawrence G. Paull, artist David L. Snyder and Hollywood’s own special effects maestro Douglas Trumball. Together, the team began shaping and crafting an art-deco-esque retro-futurism, bringing both steam and cyberpunk qualities to the concept. As a starting point, Scott used Edward Hopper’s iconic, Nighthawks (1942), as a visual reference in identifying the noir aesthetic and the spatial qualities he was

Fig 6. Burbank Studios Lot (1980) - the location of the shoot. Already constructed as a “typical” New York city street, the production aimed to take advantage of the existing and enforce their retrofitting aesthetic. 28

3\Tears in the Rain

envisioning, “a film set forty years hence, made in the style of forty years ago.” [Joanne Ostrow, 1981]. Amongst artwork being a driving force for the design, the team also drew on the work of the fantastical work being done by the French comic artist, Jean “Moebius” Giraud and his perspective on urban vistas of the potentially recent future, however his direct link to the production couldn’t be formed due to prior commitments. Working with old-school methods, the design team focused on creating table top models and matte background paintings to simulate as much a life like quality as possible in a pre-digital age. Constructing these sets and models gave the designers a chance to experience their creations spatially and test them on and off camera, how they were going

to be presented, versus how they were going to be brought to life [Fig 7.]. Working on the studio lot, construction was labelled a “nightmare”, creating a meticulously detailed street that in turn, could be filmed in several places without ever looking the same, saving on time and money of construction. “The set meshed western architectural elements from Manhattan avenues and London’s Piccadilly Circus, with Asian-influenced street life from Tokyo’s Omotesando, and Hong Kong’s bustling Wanchai district.” [Lawrence G. Paull, 1982] [Fig 8.]. The production’s central set at the studios was known as “Old New York City Street,” [Fig 9.] it’s combined western and eastern culture aesthetic allowed this set, to be a practical tool, once shooting on a live location such as Tokyo became virtually impossible. The set was retrofitted to

Fig 7. Model-making of the Mayan-inspired Tyrell Corporation Headquarters. Trumball had the model constructed hollow, to allow lighting to be placed inside to be lit during distant and tracking shots. 29

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Fig 8. The transformed set, “Ridleyville”. Unrecognisable from its previous condition of present day New York, the team created a detailed environment that now just needed to be inhabited.

fit the decaying aesthetic of Mead and Paul’s concept, “layering it with pipes, tubing, neon signs – the flotsam and jetsam of the future – to fast forward it into the world of 2019.” [Fig 10.]. Fitting the set with contrasting collections of past and future elements, the likes of upgrading dysfunctional machinery or structures by constantly adding to them. A style developed to visualize a distorted time aesthetic that would later come to help shape the definition of architectural post-modernism, or as Ridley Scott called it, “crunchy comic-book architecture.” Packed with sprawling street markets and vendors, pedestrians, vehicles and the consistent weathering of artificial rain and mist, the set became its own breathing and living entity. The compact nature of the street set proved a likeness to that of Asian mega30

cities, in particular that of Tokyo and Shanghai, developing at a rate faster than many urban environments at the time. Amidst this representation of this rapid urban development, the addition of heavy commercialized districts, represented in the film via monumental skyscrapers with façades like giant billboard television screens helped reflect booming technological settings of up and coming mega-cities, enhancing already pre-existing environments to fit into this vision. The urban sprawl constructed with congestion and density of peoples and buildings echoes sentiments of New York’s metropolitan environments. However, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is the central referential case study that Ridley Scott uses to connect a generational Sci-Fi gap. By extracting motifs and iconic styles brought by

3\Tears in the Rain

Fig 9. “Old New York City Street” - the final version of the set lit at night before a shoot.

Fig 10. Elevation drawing for the retrofitting of the studio lot, new, extra mechanical elements transformed façades and catapulted the set into the future.


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Lang, such as futuristic skylines of both vertical and horizontal structures with prominent streets in the sky, Scott was able to create his own mark in the genre by adapting these into this own vision. A complex line of intertextuality was drawn and allowed Scott to view New York though German expressionism, thus creating a predictive, cultural Los Angeles with an aesthetic of a documentary style photographs.

“Rich, colourful, noisy, gritty, full of textures and teeming with life…I’m trying to make it as real as possible. This is a tangible future, not so exotic as to be unbelievable…like today, only more so.” (Ridley Scott, 1981) The combination of model making, and matte background paintings let the design team physically craft the city of the future. Working from Scott’s guidance and thumbnail sketches, the team constructed scale models of buildings with perspective backgrounds to create the illusion of a sprawling, never ending city, reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s Radiant City, it’s design both 32

“urban planning based and architectural.” [Stephen Rowley, 2005]. Some models furnished, and others just presented as skinned façades, collected and arranged in a masterplan-esque arrangement allowed the camera crew to navigate their way in and around the sprawling city and later intertwine the recorded model footage over live-action performances, to help ground the fictional spaces into reality with the help of the actor’s performances. Using futurist architect, Antonio Sant’Elia as a main precedent for the vision of an extensive, densely arranged city, the team used his works as a key insight to how progressive a future one could predict. “Machinelike superstructures, stepped skyscrapers interlaced with suspended walkways and highway overpasses.” [Nora Landes, 2016] are littered across Sant’Elia’s drawings, a futurist working out of postmodernism views to craft his own. Merging the influences of Lang and Sant’Elia, the crew tackled subjects of city and master planning, with experienced planners and architects such as production designer Lawrence G. Paull, the task of creating an arrangement of a city with a postmodern perspective was achievable. “There was no description of anything in the script. I was dealing with a design idea.” [Lawrence G. Paull, 1992].

3\Tears in the Rain

Fig 11. The “Spinners” traversing the “Streets in the sky”, travel restricted to those in positions of authority. Here, Deckard travels through the city towards the Tyrell Corp pyramids.

Leaving futurist visionary Syd Mead to generate realised inhabitation and navigation, providing a functional element to a now designed shell of a model city. Creating high-tech vehicles such as the now iconic flying car known as, “spinners’, Mead had generated a vision reminiscent of Lang’s, “streets in the sky.” Without pathways physically interlinking the city and its buildings, these vehicles, some of which were built to scale back in “Ridleyville,” were now able to provide the production with a rich theme that would help drive and support its complex narrative, a vertical hierarchy of built spaces [Fig 11.].



4 Something a little more Radical \ Vertical Hierarchies of Built Spaces


Visions of the Future

Vertical Hierarchies of Built Spaces “Meaning and interpretations that cross over from film to architecture may begin to come up with validities that are sustainable. Interactivity and interference between film and architecture might then not only correspond to the collective material the world offers us, but take us beyond these into the privatized sphere.” (Roger Connah, 2001)

The opening shot of Blade Runner reveals the hellish “Hades” landscape of L.A. [Fig 12.]. Tall, winding industrial structures creep up to the torched skies, surrounding two monumental, hulking pyramids belonging to Replicant manufacturer, Tyrell Corporation. Further in, we never get to visually leave the confines of the clustered skyscrapers and street levels, only in brief moments are we let out to reveal the Tyrell pyramids. The camera-work is very specific, the shots for Tyrell Corp are always angled up, however, amongst the skyscrapers and streets, always down. Subliminally creating a visual hierarchy. Characters throughout the narrative appear in specific locations and setting that allude to their natures, through these settings, pathetic fallacy is accentuated through

Fig 12. The iconic opening shot of the fiery “Hades” Landscape. Industrial stacks pumping fire and smoke creating the atmosphere and definition of the hellish landscape. 36

4\Something a little more Radical

the architecture, to an extent at which we can begin to understand them and unravel their positions within the narrative. Throughout the film, there are clear arrangement of spaces that reveal hierarchical qualities manifested through architectural characteristics. In particular there are three situations, all relating back to contextualized character development in relation to their spatial qualities. Firstly, we have the hubbub and collective public nature of the street level, where characters interact with each other freely, and the city at this level, is alive yet at its most decayed, reflecting that of the impact of commercialism. Secondly, private residences, in particular, Deckard’s and JF Sebastian’s apartments. These two locations representing the domesticated side of the narrative,

these private dwellings provide intimate character studies, pivotal moments that drive the plot. Thirdly, representing industrialization, the “streets in sky,” and the authoritative placement of the Tyrell Corp and its in-house residence. The use of travelling with “spinners”, restricted to persons of authority, and Tyrell’s chambers show an imposition of authority, reflected through dominating industry and corporation [Fig 13.]. Relating to Lang’s Metropolis, the Tyrell pyramids provide a reflection of ancient and historical civilizations, their attitude towards the visualization of a higher power, “[In relation to Metropolis] Both draw on medieval cosmology to create a hierarchical universe, with heaven above and hell below.” [Dietrich Neumann, 1996]. At the top of this vertical hierarchy, the

Fig 13. The authoritative control and restrictive travel on the “Streets in the sky”. Deckard approaches the heavily monitored empty airspace surrounding the Tyrell Corporation Headquarters. 37

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“heaven above,” lies the monumental pyramids of the Tyrell Corp. Ancient in its representation, the hulking triangular structures hold both narrative and architectural value in its placement and symbolism, strikingly a reflection of the pyramids of Egypt and the ziggurats of Aztec and Mayan civilizations. An obvious symbol of power and expression of financial and industrial superiority. The landmarks contained elevators strapped to its exteriors, taken straight out of a Sant’Elia drawing, combining two periods of architectural design allowed the misplaced structures to have a place, fitting into the developed universe [Fig 14.]. The two structures create an ethereal atmosphere, towering over the mismatched, crowded skyscraper city. Ironically, these themes are contrasting in theme to its settings, as the God-like figure of Eldon Tyrell, the creator of Replicants, resides solely inside his pyramids, similarly to that of Pharaohs. Ultimately, Tyrell is murdered in his own home which upon reflection with the structures inspiration, is to be killed whilst living in his own tomb, the irony, thus enhancing the use of architecture as an allegory for religion and culture. The juxtaposition of these ancient typologies against the intense realism of the cityscape creates 38

a tension that helps define the role that architecture plays within the film helping to drive forward the narrative.

“Most of the time the setting would be a supporting player; the setting just enhances whatever goes on story wise.” (Lawrence G. Paull, 1992) Blade Runner constantly presents a back and forth conflict between public and private spaces, of which is echoed through the subtext theme of the institutional versus the residential. Public institutional and commercial spaces being on the street level and private spaces being residential environments. This spatial and hierarchical arrangement is reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse, a precedent for the filmmakers. Ville Radieuse’s unrealized masterplan envisioned an efficient society through zoning of urban and commercial developments [Fig 15.]. Its growth as a progression of modernism, Le Corbusier’s concept proposed prefabricated and highdensity housing skyscraper typologies, that spread across “Cartesian,” grid-like

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Fig 14. Antonio Sant’Elia’s “House with external elevators” (1914) a prominent source of inspiration for the Tyrell Corporation pyramids, traversal throughout the structure and its futurist aesthetic.


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arrangements of green spaces, allowing the city to function as a, “living machine.” Housing districts would be arranged around a central commercial zone and on top of transportation networks. These skyscraper apartments, knows as “Unités,” would function as a vertical village, housing utility, educational and recreational facilities in one structure. Intending a mix of equality of function, Le Corbusier’s vision was indirectly materialized into Blade Runner itself. Its retrofitted skyscraper dwellings arranged around commercialized districts, present in the form of billboard advertisements, presenting its decaying reality so vividly. What would happen without this perfect geometry of the urbanized space? Aesthetically similar to Peter Cook’s Trickling Towers, Archigram’s surrealist style was intertwined with Ville Radieuse inspiration, allowing the concept of retrofitting to be grounded in some form of theory. Displaying a realised but impossible masterplan combined with a surreal yet grounded concept, “[all of] these things combine to form a cultural resonance that is ultimately shared with architecture.” [David T. Fortin, 2016] [Fig 16.]. Despite Radieuse remaining unrealized, aspects of Le Corbusier’s vision were executed in reality, aiding 40

the proof of the execution of his theories through the development of Unité d’Habitation. Even though today, Le Corbusier’s modernistic theories are not considered utopias due to the lack of spaces for public urban encounters and the neglect of inhabitant’s desires [Fig 17.]. Holistically addressed, his master planning failed to realistically capture healthy living, congestion, noise and the utility of public spaces, all aspects of which Ridley Scott’s design team had exploited in developing their street sets by enveloping all of these points into one area, “Our society is an eclectic potpourri of looks and styles that somehow all blend together and make up the city.” [Lawrence G. Paull, 1992]. The “streets in the sky”, is a recurring element not just through Blade Runner but also its sci-fi influences, however, its dominance in this particular case is explored as a way to bridge the public and private gap in its vertical hierarchies. Pathways of vehicular travel traverse the skies and spaces inbetween structures, these ideas have also been rooted in architectural practice through the run up to the eighties. Particularly in brutalist structures and residential developments, the concept of “streets in the sky,” allowed spaces

4\Something a little more Radical

Fig 15. Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse (1930), model of masterplan in a Cartesian grid. The model shows the separation of districts through building types and position within the grid.

Fig 16. Archigram’s Peter Cook’s retrofitted Trickling Towers (1978) highlight the ad-hoc nature of adding elements to structures and having that define their own aesthetic.


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for communities to connect and indirectly provide a social hierarchy. The Smithsons, Robin Hood Gardens [Fig 18.], architecturally “christened” the term, providing an excellent multi-tiered pedestrian city, littered with networks of elevated walkways on flyovers. As did Sheffield’s Park Hill Estate, allowing for vehicular traffic, in the form of milk floats providing services for the

inhabitants [Fig 19.]. These modernist responses came about from a reaction to how architects such as Le Corbusier and Sant’Elia envisaged pedestrian traversal. However, the elevated city of Robin Hood Gardens has been recently removed by corporate culture and in Stephen Grahams’ book, Vertical City, highlights that embedded circulation helps establish a social hierarchy. With

Fig 17. Unité d’Habitation’s modular developments highlighting the arrangement of residential, educational and commercial spaces 42

4\Something a little more Radical

Fig 18. The Smithsons’ Robin Hood Gardens (1972) raised pathways invite social and community interaction and provided a bridge between the private residencies and the open public spaces.

Fig 19. Park Hill Estate (1961), a milk floats navigates the “Streets in the sky”, allowing an interaction of commercial services in-between the gap of private and public space.


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Fig 20. Artist’s image of a multi-level city in north-east England, an open plan future envisioned by Napper Architects in 1965, blending residential, commercial and industrial spaces for the ease of the user.

an internalized and privatized system help exclude undesirable individuals would create the street beneath to be left to the homeless and disenfranchised. In Sant’Elia’s Manifesto of Futurist Architecture, he stated that the city realm could evolve into streets of decay and that thoroughfares would eventually, “plunge many levels underground and consolidate metropolitan traffic with interconnecting links to metallic catwalks and high-speed conveyor belts.” [Antonio Sant’Elia, 1914]. These collective ideas were portrayed with metropolitan pedestrian traffic in the film, its street level sets and scenes highlighting the effect of restrictive circulation, forcing the majority of civilized movement solely upon ground level. Due to the restriction of flying the “streets in the sky,” in the narrative, the evolution of 44

the treatment of this concept in the present day highlighted that elevated circulatory systems could help create pseudo-public spaces under the guise of civic spaces. Could private domesticated spaces provide that bridge between the public and private world? [Fig 20.]

4\Something a little more Radical



5 Do you like our Owl? \

The Architecture of Domestic Narrative


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The Architecture of Domestic Narrative “[The] film ‘exploits the metaphorical and practical values of a home’ by constructing spatial relationships through montage and camera angles that directly engage architecture with the narrative.” (Renee Tobe, 2007) Motifs are littered throughout Blade Runner, the use of the Replicant, the City, and most significantly, the Home. Throughout the film, the narrative is at its richest when we are introduced to the domesticated environments of the central characters, here not only do we learn purely through exposition, but obtain much more through the use of particular architectures and spatial qualities. Three settings prove this, specifically the homes of Eldon Tyrell (Founder of the Tyrell Corporation and creator of Replicants), Rick Deckard (the protagonist and Blade Runner), and JF Sebastian (a genetic Engineer designing Replicants). As an analytical 48

strength and strategy of the film, director Scott extends the imagery of the film through its architecture, via the use of “mise-en-scene,” allowing meaningful studies to take place through the visual organization of sets and camera work. Using real-life locations in Los Angeles, these three dwellings reflect an intimate relationship between user and building. “That was the concept, and then you take it one step further.” [Lawrence G. Paull, 1992]. Tyrell’s home was filmed on a real set at Burbank Studios, and partially in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House alongside side Deckard’s Apartment, wholly being shot there, creating a narrative tension due to the familiarity of their existent spatial qualities [Fig 21.]. On the contrary, Sebastian’s home was constructed and filmed within the iconic Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles, also used in the film. Both Ennis House and the Bradbury Building are vehicles exploring a post-industrial notion of the home in a heavily urbanized America, not too far from the present [Fig 22.]. The significance in the use of these buildings shines through their cultural iconography, and when used on screen, is more than just a supporting character during their scenes. Their heritage, aesthetic and build of Mayan, Columbian,

5\Do you like our Owl?

Fig 21. Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House (1924) - decorated in Mayan tile and ornamentation, the site reflected the culture of the film’s dystopian future, with exterior shots captured on-site.

Fig 22. Interior of the Bradbury Building located in Downtown Los Angeles, reflective of Victorian ornamentation and industry aesthetic through its use of decorative iron-grid railings, stairs, lift shaft and open court ceiling.


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Victorian and Modern ornamentation provide decorated insight into the evolution of the future of (their) civilizations and most importantly, their users, through domestic narratives.

“By elevating the discussion of home as it pertains to both narrative and mise-en-scene [in these films], it is hoped that something of relevance will be said about our present condition as it relates specifically to architecture and our evolving notions of boundary, identity and place.” (David T. Fortin, 2016)

The Corporation’s pyramids serve the motif of the Replicants through a study of the structural iconography of Pre-Columbian cultural tendencies and barbaric practices of its primitive empire. Historically enforcing a large slave labour workforce to construct temples, it is to be noted that this reflection mirrors the struggles of the slave-like treatment of the Replicants, with antagonist Roy Batty angrily rebelling against the narrative. The handling of this iconography also responds to the notion of sacrifice in ancient cultures, in this case Mesoamerican traditions, spilling blood for the “gods” and thanking them for the giving of life. Hence, the Tyrell Corporation pyramids in possession with the means for neargenuine engineering of life, uses its architecture to speak to its own god-like pretension and inhumane methods, to

Fig 23. Traditional Mayan Temple, reminiscent of Ancient Egyptian Pyramids, Chichen Itza 50

5\Do you like our Owl?

Fig 24. Tyrell Corp. Interior during the, “Do you like our Owl?” Scene, set in Tyrell’s vastly open plan Office, it is the first and only time we see the Sun in the film. [Appendix A.]

generate and destroy life [Fig 23.]. Thus, further explored inside the pyramid during the, “Do you like our Owl?” scene, the iconic first meeting of Deckard, and love interest, Rachael. Through a sceptical introduction of an artificial owl, a “showing-off” manoeuvre from Tyrell, identifying that he places himself above all other life, purely because he is a creator of it [Fig 24.]. Tyrell lives atop his pyramid, modelled after Mayan temples, retaining a Pre-Columbian legacy aesthetic. Its exterior, brutal and imposing contrast its interiors, characterizing its austerity through use of classical ornamentation, reflecting its user. High ceilings, polished floors, luxurious furniture and large, empty volumes of space directly contrast the cramped masses at street level, crowding through the public spaces providing

their own social “living room.” The presence of Tyrell’s “fortress” in the urban environment, combined with its lavish open interiors for the living quarters, resonates with that of an aristocratic or ruling class in a retromedieval future hierarchy. Its oversized doors, furniture and decorated bed resembling that of a King or straight out of Italian prestige (such as the Pope’s chambers in the Vatican) [Fig 25.]. Tyrell’s characters existence solely within the pyramid is one of isolation from the commoners that jostle in the streets below, “It is impossible to imagine Tyrell outside the walls of his fortress.” [Steve Carper, 1997]. However, his entombed nature is exacerbated through his isolation and decorated interiors. Ultimately leading to his death, shows how a luxurious lifestyle of excess are 51

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Fig 25. Eldon Tyrell’s luxurious personal Chambers, located atop his Pyramid, very reflective of Papal chambers and decorated rooms of royalty. Tyrell wakes due to uninvited guests. [Appendix E.]

not comparable but contrasting to the other notions of home through the existence of moderation. Thus, if philosophies of home are focused through domestic comforts, then we should highlight the middle-class, or “bourgeois”, as “unlike the aristocrat who lived in a fortified castle…the bourgeois lived in a house.” [Witold Rybczynski, 1986]. Genetic designer JF Sebastian lives alone in an empty Bradbury Building, his apartment alluding to Rybczynski’s, 17th Century “bourgeois,” in contrast to Tyrell’s “aristocrat” castle. Sebastian alternates between socializing with his superior, Tyrell, and the lower classes on the streets, his home reflecting the middle ground he presents, a link between both worlds. His apartment is cluttered with objects of his 52

personal history, memory and own collection, mixed in with creations and technological beings built through his own hobby of design engineering, revealing an inability to connect with humans, favouring him to become allied with the Replicant antagonists [Fig 26.]. Following 17th Century fascination that furniture belongs to a growing fascination of appreciative domestic comfort, we can see that middle-class houses provide, “a setting for an emerging interior life.” [Witold Rybczynski, 1986]. Spatially busy, the confines of Sebastian’s home transform the space into a social theatre, welcoming all aspects of domestic life. The apartment epitomizes the middle-class home as a stage, in particular how Sebastian’s personally designed robots programmed to welcome him upon his arrival, “home

5\Do you like our Owl?

Fig 26. JF Sebastians Apartment interior, littered with his creations. Sebastian surrounds himself with his inventions, whilst Pris, with a hidden agenda, makes herself at home in the background. [Appendix D.]

again home again.” They later go onto repeat his name, reiterating that this is the place he belongs to, a safe space, the “Home is where you can be recognized by others.” [David Morely, 2000]. Identity, this is an important aspect to recognize, the familiarity of the space provides the home-owner a sheltered and known environment to dwell and present. However, this sets up a stark contrast that is exploited in all of the domestic environments in the film, the feeling of a secure, comforting interior and a fearful invasion of an intruding, unknown presence. Adding to that, the design of Sebastian’s apartment blurs the line between animate and inanimate objects, androids and humans, as the home eventually sets up the clashing of species in the film’s final act. The Replicants use Sebastian’s

home as a base, an area of familiarity, being around alike artificial kinds. Which provides a completely opposing feeling to the invasion of Tyrell’s home by the Replicant, Batty, intent on murdering his creator and new-found ally, Sebastian. The use of the Bradbury Building provides the rich oddness to the futuristic narrative, with its decoration and ornamented elements reflecting the clashing of styles, in particular, Gothic and Victorian. Designed in 1893, the Bradbury Building a futuristic skylight was installed that helped illuminate its central court, highlighting its Renaissance style wrought iron railings fitted in and around its open corridors, creating a sense of harmony and structure [Fig 27 & 28.]. The environments created on-site for the film creates a distinctive 53

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quality, almost dream-like, signifying a blur between death and creation, human and android, feeling and numbness. With its dark, smog and dusty atmosphere, the setting is generated via passing neon-advertisements and spotlights to help filter the light through the buildings skylight, hiding its terracotta textures, whilst junk and dolls clutter the corridors, providing its haunting nature, a house immersed in its own history, trapped by the passage of time. It’s iconography and landmark as a frequent set and historical element as part of Los Angeles provides the narrative with a striking location to end on for its final confrontation between the two leads. The clash of man and machine echoes the architectural sentiment of the “House as a machine to live in,” [Le Corbusier, 1923] which evolved the idea of a home that would have prescribed machine-like interiors, based on modern aesthetics, and in this particular case, this would become apparent in the representation of the protagonist, Rick Deckard’s home, modelled on, and filmed in, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House.

“Deckard’s apartment: it was a cave, it was his womb, so the rooms 54

were very linear, very overbearing, and the walls bracketed out like a series of contemporary vaults.” (Lawrence G. Paull, 1992) As its function in Blade Runner, Ennis House, transformed into a severalhundred-story skyscraper [Fig 29.], provided the central conundrum of the narrative, is our protagonist Rick Deckard a Replicant? The puzzle of which is most decipherable through its architecture. Shot on site, Lloyd Wright’s design is utilized to help break down the protagonist through his dwelling and manages to do it in three aspects. Firstly, its relationship with the Tyrell Pyramids’ Pre-Columbian architectural history, conjuring up memories of cruelty and slavery, pointing directly at the question, is Deckard human? Or do these similarities mean he is anything but? Secondly, the extremely busy interior, creating an analytical space of alienation and intimacy, and finally the home’s role as a “Replicant” itself, all aspects alluding to Deckard’s existence and by extension his lover, Rachael. The interior of the ninety-seventh-floor apartment is as densely packed as the city streets below, reflecting its oriental and Mesoamerican aesthetic through

5\Do you like our Owl?

Fig 27. A decaying Bradbury Building, with a definitively dim, haunting atmosphere sets the scene for the final climactic showdown. Deckard hunts the remaining Replicants, Pris (disguised in the foreground) and Roy. [Appendix F.]

Fig 28. Lights flood through the Bradbury’s skylight, advertising a new life “off-world” presented as, “a golden land of opportunity and adventure”, it’s use here is also ironic, as JF Sebastian although financially able to leave the world, cannot, due to his own genetic illness.


Visions of the Future

the particular use of ornamentation, a recurring aspect that shines through Ennis House. The open plan design of the apartment negates any possibility for a physical boundary, they do not exist, the rooms flow one into the other without the possibility for any individual privacy [Fig 30.], pointed out in a film review, “my first reaction was that privacy was virtually gone.” [Stanley Kauffman, 1982]. An intimate exploration of the relationship between its interiors and exteriors is shown in the columns within and without, a secondary recurring element reminding the viewer of the classical and ancient foundations and influences still apparent in the city. Although the apartment reveals an openly chaotic space, filled with empty bottles, photographs, books,

boxes and dirty dishes it echoes its dark, mechanized city, dim ambiance and dirt-encrusted surfaces that allude to a claustrophobic intimacy. In turn, reveals a perverse domesticity, that is later influential upon the relationship between Deckard and Rachael. The home as a “Replicant,” motif is constantly revisited during any scene in this setting, “the apartment is similar to the replicant who occupy it, Rachael and possibly Deckard,” [Scott Frank, 1997]. The ornamentation of Ennis House, provides Scott with a way to use the building as a secondary character, it’s recognizable concrete tiles that litter the walls, 16 inches x 16 inches, compose a modular and repetitive sequence, with every architectural space being dominated by mechanical equipment

Fig 29. Deckard’s balcony overlooks onto the city streets, and the “streets in the sky”, bridging the public and private space, this connection providing an intimacy with the city, despite its grand scale. [Appendix B.] 56

5\Do you like our Owl?

Fig 30. Plan of Deckard’s Apartment, revealing the entirety of the open planned space with no doors, Mayan Tiles litter the interiors, reflecting upon the films central question, is Deckard a Replicant? [Appendix B. & C.]


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and mainly the Mayan tile [Fig 31.]. This sequential observation that is woven into the fabric of the building generates a subliminal relationship between the structure and its replicant users. In harmony with the androids, who are built and provided with prefabricated memories, the tiles reflect layered recollections in respect to its texture and shape, including a combination of historical architectural styles and modes of use [Fig 32.]. As a definite “Replicant,” Rachael’s connection with the tiles come in the form of her dress, a horizontally arranged, dusty beige fabric with colours and stripes, establishing her authenticity as a non-human [Fig 33.]. Despite Rachael’s initial resistance in discovering what she is, revealed by Deckard over an exchange of photographs, mirroring his collection

of images, their origins are repeated in the manner in which the Ennis tiles have been artificially retrofitted to render the apartment in a similar fashion to a cave or womb-like space. This resonates the dark, claustrophobic parts of Ennis House, to create a spatial “mother” and provide a, “domestic familiarity that is absent from the heavily post-industrial city.” [Vincent LoBrutto, 1992]. By grounding this particular environment in a real-life architectural construct, the production is able to use the adaptability of the space, by using its reference to historical architecture whilst anticipating futuristic trends.

Fig 31. Harrison Ford’s Deckard in-front of the countless repetitive Ennis Tiles 58

5\Do you like our Owl?

Fig 32. Drawing of the Ennis Tile. The repetitive lines and geometrical forms are reminiscent of electrical and mechanical elements and reflective of electrical components.

Fig 33. Rachael in Deckard’s Apartment, her clothes reflecting the aesthetic of the dusty beige tiles in Deckard’s Apartment. Rachael discovers Deckards’ collection of photographic memories. [Appendix C.] 59


6 Shame she won’t live, but

then again, who does? \ Towards a Radical Future


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Towards a Radical Future “However architectural discourse has also occasionally adopted prediction as a tool for thinking about the future. Banham promoted history as a guide to the future that was a social science and this an extrapolative discipline.” (David T. Fortin, 2016) Intelligent decisions from production designer Paull and director Scott helped create a grounded vision of the future through using current architectural examples as sets, that echo styles of the past that, in turn, facilitated a prediction of future trends. Combining unrealized architectural projects and realised ones, created a relationship here that provided an accessible questioning of the developing environment in the 20th Century [Fig 34.]. Futurist and Postmodern works generated a design that would forever change the face of how science-fiction could predict our futures, “machines 62

were changing the way humans lived in the world, facilitating movement and industrial production at a constantly accelerating pace.” [Nora Landes, 2016]. Blade Runner’s failure at the box office still creates questions today, are we ready to face a potentially fractious future? With 2017’s sequel, Blade Runner 2049, its release begs the question of whether we need to revisit this dystopia, and more importantly, why now? A 40-year gap now spans between the film’s original release and its sequel, which ironically is the same time gap in which the original films predictions were based, a lot can happen in 40 years, or can it?

“Clusters of inventions predicted by experts, architects, science fiction writers and just about anyone in the prediction game. These indicated the points at which major inventions are likely to be taken up by architects, affect the environment or become an inspiration for the decade.” (Charles Jencks, 2000)

6\Shame she won’t live, but then again, who does?

Fig 34. Billboard façades, a prediction for the takeover of commercialisation?

Fig 35. Barozzi Veiga’s Neanderthal Museum VS Blade Runner 2049 Concept Art. The future of immortalising unrealisable projects?


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Blade Runner 2049’s decision to present itself now could be questionable at a larger stake than just an architectural prediction, with subtext of environmental and technological concerns, the film is very much a decided commentary on the 21st Century, whereas the original was rooted in the 20th Century. However, still in tune with its predecessors’ production techniques, 2049 retains a common theme of realising unrealisable projects. In this updated case, the sequel manages to immortalize an unbuilt architectural project from Barozzi Veiga for their 2010 Neanderthal Museum in Spain, not a spatial conception but a fully scaled set, springing their design back to life [Fig 35.]. By bringing this project to life and inhabiting it for a varied purpose, the film’s motifs of prediction and domesticated setting still stand strong. Maybe then, after numerous years, the genre of Science-Fiction film has evolved into a more fluid way of helping predict “what comes next”.

“[Just] as a science would plot its experimental results in a graph that would, if extended, act as a guide to future behaviours, 64

so ‘History is to the future as the observed results of an experiment are to the plotted graph.’” (Anthony Vidler, 1988, citing Banhams “The History of the Immediate Future”) Blade Runner mediates on the postmodern nature of the human condition, but ultimately the answers we are shown are far from comforting. Its clear to see how many projects have been referenced and used for the benefit of this film, but what we don’t really see if the after-effects of what the impact of the film has done, architecturally. Structures like Unité d’Habitation provide the ultimate reflection of a pre-Blade Runner world but for postBlade Runner? Constructions like Marina City in Chicago provide that answer, developments that begin to evolve and take shape of the future to come, managing to envelop particular domesticated spaces for an easier and accessible lifestyle. Maybe, after all, the past is the future and we are just working our way backwards? Hence the heavily influence Mayan and Pre-Columbian approach of the film. What’s next? “One

6\Shame she won’t live, but then again, who does?

generations ground-breaking science-fiction usually becomes the accepted norm of the next.” [Maggie Toy, 1999]. With sciencefiction being such a strong influence in general for architecture, critic Reyner Banham suggests that inspirations from projects such as Ville Radieuse on a large scale should be shifting to a smaller, achievable scale, such as the Smithsons’ House for the Future. Here designers can begin to develop through the influence of science-fiction how behavioural architectural can help develop the build of the future. Culminating with all of this research and investigation, we can see how the relationship of Architecture and Film can work, especially in the genre of science-fiction, it provides us with a reassurance that we can use the genre as an, “Intimate interrogation of the human condition through the emergence of the postmodern.” [David T. Fortin, 2016]. Or perhaps this can be narrowed down into asking, what does it really mean to be human? We as the life and users of cities and urban environments provide the means for it to continue functioning, ironically, like a machine. It’s a shame we won’t live to see how our cities develop indefinitely, but then again who does?

“Cities are shaped by its people, and both have great resources of resilience and adaptability.” (Dietrich Neumann, 1996)



7 I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe... \ Appendix of Chosen Scenes


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Timestamp [Hour:Minutes:Seconds]

7\I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe...

Appendix Contents

Each appendix consists of transcribed stills contextualising scenes in the narrative.

A. Deckard is introduced to Rachael

The Iconic first meeting of Rachael and Deckard in Tyrell’s Office.

B. Rachael visits Deckard’s Apartment Searching for answers, Rachael disturbs Deckard in his own home.

C. Rachael returns to Deckard’s Apartment After saving his life, Rachel helps Deckard back to his home and recover.

D. J.F. Sebastian hosts the Replicants

The Replicant group settle in amongst J.F. Sebastian’s inventions.

E. The Death of Eldon Tyrell

Lead Replicant, Roy Batty, murders Eldon Tyrell in his personal chambers.

F. The Final Showdown

Deckard tracks down the remaining Replicants to the “Bradbury”.


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A. Deckard is introduced to Rachael Rick Deckard travels to the Tyrell Corporation for an audience with it’s owner, Eldon Tyrell. Upon arrival he is greeted by an artificial owl and is introduced to Rachael, Deckard is challenged by Tyrell to perform a VoightKampff test on Rachael, to identify whether she is a Replicant or not. Unbeknownst to her, she is. RACHAEL: Do you like our owl? DECKARD: It’s artificial? RACHAEL: Of course it is. DECKARD: Must be expensive. RACHAEL: Very. I’m Rachael.


DECKARD: Deckard. RACHAEL: It seems you feel our work is not a benefit to the public. DECKARD: Replicants are like any other machine. They’re either a benefit or a hazard. If they’re a benefit, it’s not my problem. RACHAEL: May I ask you a personal question? DECKARD: Sure. RACHAEL: Have you ever retired a

00:17:15 human by mistake? DECKARD: No. RACHAEL: But in your position that is a risk? TYRELL: Is this to be an empathy test? Capillary dilation of the so-called blush response? Fluctuation of the pupil? Involuntary dilation of the iris? DECKARD: We call it Voight-Kampff for short. RACHAEL: Mr. Deckard, Dr. Eldon

00:17:33 Tyrell. TYRELL: Demonstrate it. I want to see it work. DECKARD: Where’s the subject? TYRELL: I want to see it work on a person. I want to see a negative before I provide you with a positive. DECKARD: What’s that going to prove? TYRELL: Indulge me. DECKARD: On you?



TYRELL: Try her. DECKARD: It’s too bright in here. [The window changes shade, letting less light in] RACHAEL: Do you mind if I smoke?

7\I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe... DECKARD: It won’t affect the test. Alright, I’m going to ask you a series of questions. Just relax and answer them as simply as you can. It’s your birthday. Someone gives you a calfskin wallet. RACHAEL: I wouldn’t accept it. Also, I’d report the person who gave it to me to the police. DECKARD: You’ve got a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection plus the killing jar. RACHAEL: I take him to the doctor.




DECKARD: You’re watching television. Suddenly you realize there’s a wasp crawling on your arm. RACHAEL: I’d kill it. DECKARD: You’re reading a magazine. You come across a full-page nude photo of a girl. RACHAEL: Is this testing whether I’m a replicant or a lesbian, Mr. Deckard? DECKARD: Just answer the questions, please. You show it to your husband.

00:19:45 He likes it so much he hangs it on your bedroom wall. DECKARD: Bush outside your window. RACHAEL: I wouldn’t let him. DECKARD: Orange body, green legs. Why not? RACHAEL: I should be enough for him. [Audio fades, time passes.] TYRELL: Would you step out for a few

00:20:15 moments, Rachael? Thank you. DECKARD: She’s a replicant, isn’t she? TYRELL: I’m impressed. How many questions does it usually take to spot them? DECKARD: I don’t get it Tyrell. TYRELL: How many questions? DECKARD: Twenty, thirty, crossreferenced. TYRELL: It took more than a hundred for Rachael, didn’t it?


DECKARD: She doesn’t know?! TYRELL: She’s beginning to suspect, I think. DECKARD: Suspect? How can it not know what it is? 71

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B. Rachael visits Deckard’s Apartment After their initial meeting, Rachael surprises Deckard by arriving unannounced at his door. Searching for answers and trying to clarify her “potential” Replicant nature, Deckard bluntly reveals her true nature and the lies of her prefabricated memories. Rachel storms out upon her realisation of the truth and leaves Deckard guilt-ridden.


ELEVATOR: Voice print identification. Your floor number please. DECKARD: Deckard, ninety-seven. ELEVATOR: Ninety-seven, thank-you, danke. RACHAEL: I wanted to see you, so I

00:32:20 waited. Let me help. DECKARD: What do I need help for? RACHAEL: I don’t know why he told you what he did. DECKARD: Talk to him. RACHAEL: He wouldn’t see me. DECKARD: Do you want a drink? No? No? RACHAEL: You think I’m a replicant, don’t you? Look, it’s me with my mother.

00:32:27 DECKARD: Yeah. Remember when you were six? You and your brother snuck into an empty building through a basement window--you were gonna play doctor. He showed you his, but when



7\I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe...




it got to be your turn you chickened and ran. Remember that? You ever tell anybody that? Your mother, Tyrell, anybody? You remember the spider that lived in a bush outside your window: orange body, green legs. Watched her

00:34:32 build a web all summer. Then one day there was a big egg in it. The egg hatched-RACHAEL: The egg hatched, and a hundred baby spiders came out. And they ate her. DECKARD: Implants! Those aren’t your memories. They’re somebody else’s. They’re Tyrell’s niece’s. Okay, bad joke. I made a bad joke. You’re not a replicant. Go home, okay? No really, I’m sorry. Go


home. Want a drink? I’ll get you a drink. [Rachael runs away when Deckard turns to get a glass]

00:36:13 [Deckard walks out to his balcony, drinks and watches the city life below.] 73

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C. Rachael returns to Deckard’s Apartment After an attack by rogue Replicant, Leon, Rachael accompanies Deckard back home. Upon her return she sets out to learn more about Deckard through his personal photo collection, the two become comfortable together, knowing they have growing feelings for each other. Towards the end of the scene, the two begin a sexual relationship.


DECKARD: Shakes? Me too. I get ‘em bad. It’s part of the business. RACHAEL: I’m not in the business. I am the business.

01:05:04 [Deckard gurgles blood.] RACHAEL: What if I go north. Disappear. Would you come after me? Hunt me? DECKARD: No. No, I wouldn’t. I owe you one. But somebody would. RACHAEL: Deckard? You know those files on me? The incept dates, the longevity, those things. You saw them? DECKARD: They’re classified. RACHAEL: But you’re a policeman.

01:05:29 DECKARD: I didn’t look at them. RACHAEL: You know that VoightKampf test of yours? Did you ever take that test yourself? Deckard?



7\I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe...




[Deckard falls asleep while Rachael dis-hairs and plays the piano.]

01:08:15 DECKARD: I dreamt music. RACHAEL: I didn’t know if I could play. I remember lessons. I don’t know if it’s me or Tyrell’s niece. DECKARD: You play beautifully... Say kiss me. RACHAEL: I can’t rely on. DECKARD: Say kiss me. RACHAEL: Kiss me. [They kiss] DECKARD: I want you.

01:09:44 RACHAEL: I want you. DECKARD: Again. RACHAEL: I want you. Put your hands on me.


[They kiss again.] 75

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D. J.F. Sebastian hosts the Replicants Replicants Pris and Roy settle in with J.F. Sebastian and his inventions. They begin to comfortably relax in an environment surrounded by similar creations and beings to themselves. Knowing that J.F. Sebastian has a direct connection to Eldon Tyrell, the Replicant creator, they begin to manipulate and deceive their host in his own home. SEBASTIAN: Whatcha doing? PRIS: Sorry, just peaking. SEBASTIAN: Oh. PRIS: How do I look? SEBASTIAN: You look better.


PRIS: Just better? SEBASTIAN: Well, you look beautiful. PRIS: Thanks. How old are you? SEBASTIAN: Twenty-five. PRIS: What’s you problem? SEBASTIAN: Methuselah’s syndrome. PRIS: What’s that? SEBASTIAN: My glands. They grow old too fast. PRIS: Is that why you’re still on earth?

01:13:42 SEBASTIAN: Yeah, I couldn’t pass the medical. Anyway, I kind of like it here. PRIS: I like you just the way you are. Hi Roy. ROY: Ah, gosh. You’ve really got some nice toys here. PRIS: This is the friend I was telling you about. This is my saviour J. F. Sebastian. ROY: Sebastian. I like a man that stays

01:16:15 put. You live here all by yourself, do ya? SEBASTIAN: Yes. How ‘bout some breakfast. I was just gonna make some. PRIS: Well? ROY: Leon-PRIS: What’s going on. ROY: Ah-- There’s only two of us now. PRIS: Then we’re stupid and we’ll die. ROY: No we won’t. [Sebastian and Roy move to the chess board]



SEBASTIAN: No, knight takes queen, see. No good. ROY: Why are you staring at us Sebastian? SEBASTIAN: Because. You’re so

7\I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe... different. You’re so perfect. ROY: Yes. SEBASTIAN: What generation are you? ROY: Nexus six. SEBASTIAN: Ah, I knew it. ‘Cause I do genetic design work for the Tyrell Corporation. There’s some of me in you. Show me something. ROY: Like what? SEBASTIAN: Like anything.



01:16:56 ROY: We’re not computers Sebastian, we’re physical. PRIS: I think, Sebastian, therefore I am. ROY: Very good Pris, now show him why. [Pris throws hot eggs at Sebastian] ROY: We’ve got a lot in common. SEBASTIAN: What do you mean? ROY: Similar problems.

01:17:31 PRIS: Accelerated decrepitude. SEBASTIAN: I don’t know much about bio-mechanics, Roy, I wish I did. ROY: If we don’t find help soon, Pris hasn’t got long to live. We can’t allow that. Is he good? SEBASTIAN: Who? ROY: Your opponent. SEBASTIAN: Oh, Dr. Tyrell? I’ve only beaten him once in chess. He’s a genius. He designed you.

01:18:12 ROY: Maybe he could help. SEBASTIAN: I’d be happy to mention it to him. ROY: Better if I talk to him in person. But I understand he’s a sort of hard man to get to. SEBASTIAN: Yes, very. ROY: Will you help us? SEBASTIAN: I can’t. PRIS: We need you Sebastian. You’re our best and only friend.

01:19:24 ROY: We’re so happy you found us. PRIS: I don’t think there’s another human being in the whole world who would have helped us. 77

Visions of the Future

E. The Death of Eldon Tyrell Manipulating Sebastian to gain him entry to Tyrell’s personal chambers through their own game of chess, Roy Batty finally confronts his “father” Eldon Tyrell, and asks him for more life, despite his limited 4 year life span, which is rapidly coming to an end. Tyrell refuses and in his anger, Batty crushes Tyrell’s skull to death. TYRELL: 66 thousand Prosser and Ankovich. Hmmm.. Trade. Trade at-COMPUTER: New entry. A Mr. J. F. SEBASTIAN. 1-6-4-1-7. TYRELL: At this hour? What can I do


for you Sebastian. SEBASTIAN: Queen to Bishop 6. Check. TYRELL: Nonsense. Just a moment. Mmmm. Queen to Bishop 6. Ridiculous. Queen to Bishop 6. Hmmm... Knight takes Queen. What’s on your mind Sebastian. What are you thinking about. ROY: (whispers) Bishop to King 7. SEBASTIAN: Bishop to King 7.

01:21:24 Check mate, I think. TYRELL: Quite a brainstorm, uh, Sebastian. Milk and cookies kept you awake, huh? Lets discuss this. You better come up, Sebastian. [Sebastian enters Tyrell’s Chamber, with Roy in tow.] SEBASTIAN: Mr. Tyrell. I-- I brought a friend. TYRELL: I’m surprised you didn’t come here sooner.

01:21:44 ROY: It’s not an easy thing to meet your maker. TYRELL: What can he do for you? ROY: Can the maker repair what he makes? TYRELL: Would you like to be modified? ROY: Stay here. I had in mind something a little more radical. TYRELL: What--What seems to be the problem?



ROY: Death. TYRELL: Death. Well, I’m afraid that’s a little out of my jurisdiction, you-ROY: I want more life, fucker. TYRELL: The facts of life. To make

7\I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe...



an alteration in the evolve-ment of an organic life system is fatal. A coding sequence cannot be revised once it’s been established. ROY: Why not?


TYRELL: Because by the second day of incubation, any cells that have undergone reversion mutations give rise to revertant colonies like rats leaving a sinking ship. Then the ship sinks. ROY: What about EMS recombination? TYRELL: We’ve already tried it. Ethyl methane sulfanate as an alkalating agent and potent mutagen. It created a virus so lethal the subject was

01:26:02 dead before he left the table. ROY: Then a repressive protein that blocks the operating cells. TYRELL: Wouldn’t obstruct replication, but it does give rise to an error in replication so that the newly formed DNA strand carries the mutation and you’ve got a virus again. But, uh, this-- all of this is academic. You were made as well as we could make you.

01:26:07 ROY: But not to last. TYRELL: The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very very brightly, Roy. Look at you. You’re the prodigal son. You’re quite a prize! ROY: I’ve done questionable things. TYRELL: Also extraordinary things. Revel in your time. ROY: Nothing the god of bio-mechanics wouldn’t let you in heaven for.

01:26:44 [Tyrell screams as his eyes are gouged out, his owl watching on.] 79

Visions of the Future

F. The Final Showdown Finally tracking the Replicants to the Bradbury Building, Deckard moves in for the kill. Traversing the decaying building, Deckard dispatches Pris after a brutal surprise attack, but is then viciously hunted and taunted by leader, Roy. After a vertical chase up to the building’s rooftop, Roy saves Deckard’s life as he finally runs out of his own. [Deckard calls Sebastian’s apartment.] PRIS: Hello? DECKARD: Hi, is J. F. there? PRIS: Who is it?


DECKARD: This is Eddie. An old friend of J. F.’s. [Pris hangs up.] DECKARD: Ooh. That’s no way to treat a friend. [Deckard enters apartment.] TOYS: Home again, home again, jiggity jig. Good evening J. F. TOY 1: Oooh! [Lots of background noise from the toys... Deckard searches...

01:30:14 He takes off Pris’s veil. Pris attacks, and begins to squish his head between her legs. Deckard shoots into Pris...again...and again. Roy arrives. Deckard fires, but misses.] ROY: Not very sporting to fire on an unarmed opponent. I thought you were supposed to be good. Aren’t you the good man? Come on Deckard. Show me what you’re made of.

01:32:05 [Roy breaks through wall.] ROY: Proud of yourself, little man? This is for Zhora. [Roy breaks Deckard’s finger.] DECKARD: Arrggh. ROY: This is for Pris. [Roy break another of Deckard’s fingers.] DECKARD: Arrgghh. ROY: Come on, Deckard, I’m right here, but you’ve got to shoot straight.



[Deckard fires again.] ROY: Straight doesn’t seem to be good enough. Now it’s my turn. I’m gonna give you a few seconds before I come. One, Two. Three, Four.

7\I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe...



Pris... DECKARD: Arrghhh. [The chase starts... Roy begins howling.] ROY: I’m coming. Four, five. How to stay alive. I can see you! No. Not yet. Not... [Roy senses his body shutting

01:35:32 down, his life ending. He puts a nail through his hand to shock his body and screams.] ROY: Yes... [Roy puts head through wall.] ROY: You better get it up, or I’m gonna have to kill ya! Unless your alive, you can’t play, and if you don’t play... Six, seven. Go to hell, go to heaven. [They fight.] ROY: Yeah, that’s the spirit.

01:45:30 [Deckard hits Roy with pipe.] ROY: That hurt. That was irrational. Not to mention, unsportsmanlike like. Ha ha ha. Where are you going? [Deckard begins climbing on the exterior to the roof, then jumps to the next building. Roy follows, after caressing a bird.] ROY: Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.

01:46:29 [Deckard falls, Roy catches him and pulls him up onto the roof.] ROY: I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark at the Tan Hauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die. [Roy dies. A Spinner lands. Gaff approaches.]

01:48:28 GAFF: You’ve done a man’s job, sir. I guess your through, huh? DECKARD: Finished. GAFF: Its too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?



8 Bibliography \

References and Illustrations


Visions of the Future


Lamster, Mark (2000): Architecture and

Books and Journals


AlSayyad, Nezar (2009): Cinematic Urbanism: A History of the Modern from Reel to Real. New York, NY: Routledge. Brooker, Will (2005): The Blade Runner Experience: The Legacy of a Science-Fiction Classic. London: Wallflower. Fortin, D. (2016). Architecture and science-fiction film: Philip K. Dick and the Spectacle of Home. London: Routledge. Hanson, M. (2005). The Science Behind the Fiction: Building sci-fi Moviescapes. [Boston]: Focal P. Heisner, Beverly (2004): Production design in the contemporary American film: A critical study of 23 movies and their designers. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. Jacob, Sam (2012): Make it real architecture as enactment. Moscow: Strelka Press Koeck, Richard (2013): Cine-scapes: cinematic spaces in architecture and cities. New York, NY: Routledge 84

film. New York: Princeton Architectural

Lasansky, Diana Medina. (2014): Archi. pop: mediating architecture in popular culture. London: Bloomsbury Acad. LoBrutto, V. (1992). By Design: Interviews with Film Production Designers (Lawrence G. Paull). Westport, Conn: Praeger. Meyer, Esther da Costa. (1995): The Work of Antonio Sant’Elia: Retreat into the Future. New Haven: Yale University Press. Murphy, Douglas (2016): Last Futures: Nature, Technology and the End of Architecture. London: Verso. Neumann, D. and Albrecht, D. (1999). Film Architecture: From Metropolis to Blade Runner. Munich: Prestel. Park, J. (2010). Yellow Future: Oriental Style in Hollywood Cinema. University of Minnesota Press. Redmond, Sean (2016): Blade runner. Leighton Buzzard,: Auteur. Sammon, Paul M. (1999): Future Noir: the Making of Blade Runner. New York, NY:




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“I literally came out in a state of shock. When I close my eyes, I can still see that opening sequence… It’s like being transported to the ultimate city of the future, with all the good things and all the bad things about it.” PHILIP K. DICK


Early in the 21st Century, THE TYRELL CORPORATION advanced Robot evolution into the NEXUS phase - a being virtually identical to a human - known as a Replicant. The NEXUS 6 Replicants were superior in strength and agility, and at least equal in intelligence, to the genetic engineers who created them. Replicants were used Off-world as slave labor, in the hazardous exploration and colonization of other planets. After a bloody mutiny by a NEXUS 6 combat team in an Off-world colony, Replicants were declared illegal on earth - under penalty of death.

Special police squads - BLADE RUNNER UNITS - had orders to shoot to kill, upon detection, any trespassing Replicant.


This was not called execution. It was called retirement.

- Blade Runner, 1982, Opening Title

Visions of the Future in Blade Runner  

Dissertation written by Amar Sall for his Degree in (BA) Architecture at Central Saint Martins (UAL). Dissertation Tutor: Tom Dyckhoff

Visions of the Future in Blade Runner  

Dissertation written by Amar Sall for his Degree in (BA) Architecture at Central Saint Martins (UAL). Dissertation Tutor: Tom Dyckhoff