The farcical design mimics the vision Kim Jong Il allegedly saw at birth

2011 will undoubtedly be marked by the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Not only did the supreme ruler try to convince his constituents of his "supernatural" origins and to spend $850,000 annually on Hennessy’s cognac, but under his regime, North Korea saw the realization of farfetched mega-projects like the 105-story Ryugyong Hotel. Myth and legend continue to aggressively shape the landscape in North Korea, and this phenomenon is the heart of a project by Ben Masterson-Smith, recipient of the inaugural RIBA Norman Foster Traveling Scholarship in 2007. As seen on BLDGBLOG, Masterson-Smith, who visited North Korea for a period of architectural and spatial research, has imagined a farcical realization of a 7-mile rainbow, a vision reportedly seen on the occasion of Kim Jong-il’s birth.

 

The absurd scale of Masterson-Smith’s proposal is magnified in his renderings. Along with actual fuchsia-toned construction drawings, the architect included images of trucks towing excessive amounts of pink vinyl and images of North Korean citizens working tirelessly to assemble the rainbow, a mere fraction of which has taken on zeppelin-sized proportions. The vast arch soars above the city, effortlessly dwarfing all the surrounding built structures as it is constructed ring by ring.

 

As BLDGBLOG author Geoff Manaugh notes, "in many ways, this spatial realization of the state’s own ridiculous mythology serves as a sadly necessary - because totally delirious - over-compensation for the otherwise monumentally vacuous cityscapes of North Korean urbanism, as if the grotesque political spectacle of a pink rainbow soaring seven miles over the city might retroactively justify that city’s empty stagecraft.” As evidenced in the image of the North Korean city, a country shaped almost purely by its mythologies can fall devastatingly short on energy and resources to build the substance needed to support it.

Images courtesy Ben Masterson-Smith via Flickr.

This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    A History of the American Public Library

    A visual exploration of how a critical piece of social infrastructure came to be.

  2. Equity

    Berlin Builds an Arsenal of Ideas to Stage a Housing Revolution

    The proposals might seem radical—from banning huge corporate landlords to freezing rents for five years—but polls show the public is ready for something dramatic.

  3. Maps

    Mapping the Growing Gap Between Job Seekers and Employers

    Mapping job openings with available employees in major U.S. cities reveals a striking spatial mismatch, according to a new Urban Institute report.

  4. A photo of a design maquette for the Obama Presidential Center planned for Jackson Park and designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects with Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.
    Design

    Why the Case Against the Obama Presidential Center Is So Important

    A judge has ruled that a lawsuit brought by Chicago preservationists can proceed, dealing a blow to Barack Obama's plans to build his library in Jackson Park.

  5. Design

    There’s a Tile Theft Epidemic in Lisbon

    With a single azulejo fetching hundreds of euros at the city’s more reputable antique stores, these tiles, sitting there out in the open, are easy pickings.