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. an aerial view of Los Angeles shows the complex of freeways, new construction, familiar landmarks, and smog in 1962.
    Transportation

    The Problem With Amazon’s Cheap Gas Stunt

    The company promoted its TV show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with a day of throwback 1959-style prices in Los Angeles. What could go wrong?

  2. Warren Logan
    Transportation

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

  3. a photo of the L.A. Metro Expo Line extension
    Life

    Why Can’t I Take Public Transit to the Beach?

    In the U.S., getting to the beach usually means driving. But some sandy shores can still be reached by train, subway, and bus.

  4. a photo of the Eiffel Tower with the words "Made for Sharing" projected on it
    Life

    How France Tries to Keep English Out of Public Life

    France has a long history of using official institutions to protect the French language from outside influence. Still, English keeps working its way in.

  5. A photo of a Lyft ride-hailing vehicle.
    Transportation

    How Much Traffic Do Uber and Lyft Cause?

    A new analysis by the ride-hailing giants sheds some light on a long-asked question about their congestion impacts on U.S. cities.

×