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Journeys Through Hyper-reality

Part 2 Dissertation 2009
Nick Hopper
University of Portsmouth, UK
This dissertation explores the notion of hyper-reality in architecture, urban design and the built environment. It uses the work of the semiotic philosopher Jean Baudrillard to establish a definition of Hyper-reality and goes on to argue for the recognition of a historical trend in architectural and urban design for the existence of a pattern towards hyper-reality and the desire for fantasy realms that mirror “reality”, since the enlightenment. It illustrate this pattern by drawing on three key examples that take in Baudrillard’s three orders of appearance signalling the dominant means of expression of the hyper-real in the last three hundred years:-

Counterfeit is the dominant scheme of the “classical” period, from the renaissance to the industrial period;
Production is the dominant scheme of the industrial era;
Simulation is the reigning scheme of the current phase…..
Baudrillard, J., Simulations. (1983; pp.83)

Examples drawn upon to illustrate this trend are the landscaped park in Stourhead, Wiltshire begun in 1724; The Pleasure Beach and Tower at Blackpool, started in 1891; and the recent development of Dubai and its coastline. Despite the apparent contradictions in three seemingly disparate environments an investigation has been undertaken to consolidate a thread that interweaves the three in an effort to pinpoint and ascertain key notions of the hyper-real and the object/subject relationship between the real and the simulated. A brief historical overview of each of the key examples has been carried out along with investigation of relevant cultural and art historical writings appropriate to their contexts.

The piece offers further insight through historical and socio-cultural writings and observations from a broad cross section of sources and benefits from site visits by the author to the three locations mentioned above in an effort to ground the theory in a personal, experiential form. Different stylistic writing methods are used to further accentuate these processes.

It is anticipated a full understanding of Baudrillard’s writings on simulated realities will be realised along with a clear polemical discourse for the recognition of the hyper real as an appropriate tool for the development of urban and architectural environments in contemporary architectural design.

Nick Hopper

An extraordinary work, the author and his son travel through three centuries of architectural hyper reality bringing to life Baudrillard’s, counterfeit of the classical, production of the industrial and simulation of the current. Deftly oscillating between the objectivity of rationalism and the romantic experience the work twists a knife into our values of authenticity and meaning in architecture. Space, time and architecture begin to occupy increasingly vague terrains, as the author joins the hedonistic masses to journey through each age. There are brilliant touches as the experience observed between father and son reveals a complex multi-layered and sometimes funny mixture of the banal and profound, a view of life’s contradictions brought sparklingly into the light.

Mr Martin Pearce
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