Be forewarned – this architectural movie review contains multiple spoilers!
Now that we have that out of the way, consider this: overly keen fans of the new blockbuster movie Jurassic World have calculated that it would cost a cool $23 BILLION to build a real-life version of the theme park. Besides the $10 billion real estate price, that remains a Calatrava-esque fee for the park and its architecture – so what do you get for your money? Let's take a look...
Indominus Rex Enclosure
The construction of the Indominus Rex enclosure is a perfect example of how poor planning and CATASTROPHIC project management can effectively negate great design. The CGI above reveals how the enclosure might have looked… if they had actually managed to complete the arena before this monstrous beast escaped.
Are those walls high enough? Is the structural engineering sufficient to ensure the safety of visitors? Are those concrete spiral staircases going to be detailed as well as Oscar Neimeyer’s iconic steps in the Palacio do Itamaraty in Brazil? NONE OF THESE QUESTIONS MATTER ANY MORE because of the incompetence of all those involved. Pfft.
The movie makes a sluggish start – for some reason, the directors appear to believe we are still in need of a dramatic slow reveal in terms of dino sightings, just as in the original film (which includes only 15 minutes of actual dinosaur footage, incidentally). However, it starts getting interesting when our friend the Indominus Rex breaks into the park’s gargantuan aviary.
The bio-domed structure is an architectural landmark within the park, reminiscent of Grimshaw’s Eden Project on the south coast of England (above). It also bears a striking resemblance to Renzo Piano’s real-life dino theme park – Jurassica, no less – planned for Portland in Dorset.
The Aquatic Stadium
Sea World has taken some serious hits in recent months – and rightly so, bearing in mind the revelations of Black Fish – but there is no denying that the grandstands surrounding Jurrasic World’s Shamu-esque arena are pretty slick exemplars in modern stadium design, worthy of Herzog & de Meuron or Sir Norman Foster.
Add to this the fact that the arena houses the MOST BADASS dinosaur in the entire theme park – the colossal, shark-eating Mosasaurus – and you have the makings of a truly iconic piece of theme park architecture.
They aren’t architectural, but they could quite easily have been designed by an architect – one with HOPELESSLY utopian ideals, at least. It is as if Bjarke Ingels foresaw the flawed genius of Jurassic World earlier this year, when he proposed mobile pods for his ambitious “zootopia” masterplan in Denmark. The concept revolves around the removal of wildlife from cages, allowing people to become completely immersed in the animals’ environments using modern technologies such as these high-tech hamster balls (below).
Perversely, BIG also pre-empted the potential pitfalls of such a design, with this typically straight-forward diagram portraying the removal of all physical barriers between a person and a lion:
In the movie, that lion is an Indominus Rex, and the barrier removal is substantially less intentional. Either way, the practicalities of the concept demands further consideration…
The Innovation Center
Finally, the pyramidal Innovation Center and surrounding buildings makes for a traditional theme park center piece near the entrance to the park. It is the base camp of the park, with a host of tourist-friendly kiosks lining a wide avenue akin to Disney’s Main Street
It’s a pretty placid, predictable set up… until that almighty swarm of vicious Dimorphodons and Pteranodons descends upon the hapless crowd. Then, the architectural program shifts – candy stalls become bunkers, and people become the play-things of the planet’s most terrifying winged beasts. Some excitement at last!
All in all, the architecture matches the movie itself – it is jam-packed full of design clichés, but has its moments. This is popcorn and slushie architecture. It isn't high-brow, but we can sit slouched in our cinema seats and enjoy it all the same.
The Angry Architect