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In speculative fiction, the architecture of alien species will often be oddly uniform across the board, with no variations owing to different styles being in fashion at different times, local environment or available materials. Might also apply to futuristic human cultures: it is rare to see a future city with architecture from different periods side by side, despite this being the norm in real life. Of course, while real-life housing developments are uniform in style and age, one does not usually build entire cities from scratch like this. One notable exception is the city of Brasilia, which was built quickly in a uniform Modernist style to be a new showcase capital for Brazil (as were Washington DC, Canberra and, even earlier, St.Petersburg) and has been criticized for its bland and antiseptic appearance (as the others named had been when their prevailing architecture was dated but not yet antique). See the "Future City" section at Tales of Future Past for more on this. Not to be confused with Days of Future Past.

A special case of Planet of Hats: it would usually be too much work to give an alien species or future humans more than one architectural style. The Shining City is usually described like this.

Compare Crystal Spires and Togas, Advanced Ancient Acropolis, City of Gold. Contrast Used Future, The Constant. Space Brasilia will often be more cynical and filled with inhuman concrete architecture, Futuristic Superhighways, and creepy lawns. Compare Zeerust. Our heroes will long to return to the Arcadia of good old planet Earth, which is never Stepford Suburbia.

When it is not City Noir, your typical City in a Bottle setting will usually be this. In which case it will be the hero's job to escape.

Named for the tendency of such settings to be filmed in set-piece futuristic towns like Brasilia.

Examples :


Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • Kryptonian architecture in the Superman comics. Also in different incarnations of the Bottle City of Kandor.
  • While a Jack Kirby futurescape is immediately recognizable as such, he was certainly capable of varying it. Certainly nobody would mistake a picture of Supertown for one of Armaghetto.


Film

  • Averted to a ridiculous extent in Blade Runner. The mixture of architectural styles is pretty much realistic, apart from the notable lack of air-conditioning. But the streets filled with uniformly '50s style cars while futuristic spinners zoom overhead ?
  • Minority Report also averts this by being pretty effective at depicting a world with a variety of architecture of different ages and styles. This is actually a plot point at the very beginning.
  • The Planet Vulcan, quite logically, in the Star Trek reboot.
  • Partial example: most of the worlds in the Star Wars universe, in addition to being Single Biome Planets and/or Planet of Hats. Partially averted with the City Planet Coruscant, where different parts of the planet are dominated by different buildings: the predominance of Metropolis-esque art deco scyscrapers there can be explained away by the Galactic government's capacity to rebuild entire areas from the ground up. Moreover, some of the alien species seem to be adapted to their various forms of architecture, that is when there is not only one settlement to be found.
  • Averted in Metropolis, where Rotwang's laboratory is in an old Gothic church still standing among the futuristic skyscrapers.


Literature

  • Played with in The Culture novels by Iain Banks, where the architecture of different civilizations are suggested as being representative of their cultures in different ways. The neo-imperial Azadian cities in The Player of Games are described as sprawling masses of construction, decay, and reconstitution, as though the entire civilization were a massive bacterial colony grown too large for its Petri dish, while most socially and technologically mature societies, of which form the communistic Culture represents an ideal, tend to manufacture habitats as concerted projects to meet specific well-understood needs, so that Culture ships and space habitats favour a simplified, flexible architecture that nevertheless contains immense microscopic diversity in the way individual species, subcultures, and populations customize the minimalist designs of their habitats to suit their living preferences and aesthetic interests[1].
  • The Lois McMaster Bujold novel Brothers in Arms describes future London as averting this, being a weird mixture of architectural styles. Creepily, when the style of "old London" is described, it is a late 20th century style, implying that all of the older architecture London is currently known for no longer exists. Given that the same book mentioned submarine rides on the lake Los Angeles it's safe to assume that Earth survived a lot, and not all of it was pretty. The planet Barrayar is described in similar fashion. The capital of Vorbarr Sultana is a mishmash of old and new architecture, while newer cities like Hassadar are pure Space Brasilia.
  • Averted in Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space series, particularly by the shantytown-like cities on Sky's Edge. The "historical" buildings were actually often built from cargo containers and prefabricated materials and the newer ones are more natural. Most town squares in the oldest cities of Sky's Edge have a triangular shape, since they were built around the triangular atmospheric shuttles that brought the colonists to the planet's surface from the orbiting Generation Ship. Also, in the same series, Chasm City on the planet Yellowstone has enough variability in its architectural history, even though it's a typical high-tech metropolis.
  • Time Scout averts this. The architecture on the time terminal is outlandlishly diverse, with everything tending to look like the art and architecture of the nearest tourist gate.

Live Action TV


Video Games

  • In Mass Effect, when you visit the last planet in the game, you are able to see a ruined Prothean tower off in the distance. It seems to be identical in style to the skyscrapers on Feros, a distant planet where the environmental conditions seemed quite different.
    • But both are built by the Protheans, who apparently only had one style of architecture, and certainly developed enough technology to build in that style anywhere they wanted.
  • It's possible to avert this or play this straight in Spore, since you can choose similar buildings for every colony, or have each planet with it's own unique style.
  • Can happen in the Rush Hour expansion to Sim City 4: you can choose from the six styles of building that will show up in your city; these are by default set to cycle every five years. This can lead to a fair number of very large neighborhoods looking very, very similar. However, you can change things up: in one direction, you can have the architectural styles build all at once; if you find that it makes things a bit too weird, you can keep the cycle but set it to change faster (e.g. once a year), which creates smaller single-style neighborhoods (which is actually mildly realistic for an expanding city). On the other hand, you can also slow the cycle or even ban up to five styles outright (if you like the Brasilia effect).
  • Mirror's Edge, of course.


Webcomics


Western Animation

  • The City in a Bottle in Aeon Flux was almostfilmed in Brasilia, but due to infra-estructure problems they decided for Berlin and Potsdam, Germany.

Notes

  1. in fact, the Culture (and Banks), take great pleasure in this fact of utilitarian solidarity in diversity, it's one of the main points of the books
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