When enjoying sustained periods of economic prosperity and growth, it’s almost natural to want to flaunt, in untamed excess, the fruits of entrepreneurship through architectural means. Just look at the Pyramids of Giza, the Roman Colosseum and more recently, Trump Tower and areas of China. What’s significant though, is that China, instead of growing out of this phase, has put a stop to the practice altogether. Russian billionaire and amateur architect Vasily Klyukin has other ideas.
“This concept is very extravagant, even for the modern World,” Klyukin wrote on his website, and he’s not wrong. The tower design—centered on a “sexy leg“—has been met with fervent hostility, mostly due to its complete disregard for its Lower Manhattan context and subsequent intent on standing out like sore thumb—or toe, in this case.
“Someone will be shocked by this idea, someone will find it beautiful and sexy, someone—vulgar, but everybody, without an exception, would want to observe such a tower or visit it at least once in a lifetime. If this building will become a hotel—it will always be crowded. I personally would like to live in this tower,” Klyukin continued.
Dubbed the “Russian-born Tony Stark,” Klyukin dabbles in real estate, sci-fi literature, sculpture, and yacht design as well as apparently being a Doctor of Historical Sciences. One doubts whether he himself even sees these designs being realized, despite his desire to live in them one day.
His book, Designing Legends (Klyukin referring to his own designs) is available on Amazon for only $54, and so far has only received five-star reviews. One fan comments: “Klyukin is indulging in a playful critique of contemporary architecture and the post-Modern [sic] city, but it’s really an ‘artist’s book,’ or in the parlance of the previous century, ‘un livre d’artiste.'”
As much as one tries to find any validation in his proposals, further probing reveals deep-rooted egotism. Such an ethos is highlighted by Klyukin’s Cobra Tower design. There is no place for this snake, something he inadvertently points out himself by imagining the tower in a number of locations such as China, Japan, and London. From this we can see that Klyukin deems his surroundings irrelevant; all that matters is that his design dominates the skyline, regardless of its relationship to its vicinity.
When a large enough proportion of designers subscribe to this approach, the result is a chaotic conglomeration of buildings attempting to shout louder than each other. Any identity within the vicinity is lost, the art of placemaking long forgotten and the world quickly becomes alienating. Beijing artist Cao Fei exemplified this journey into cultural obscurity with Shadow Plays by revealing the “hypothetical extremities to which China is susceptible as a product of growth and potential collapse.”