A photo in Kate Bergdorf’s Flickr stream pointed me in the direction of Furillen, a rather desolate looking sim by Serene Footman which rather matched my mood this morning. But oh what beauty there is to be found sometimes in desolation.
The description of the sim reads: “An island off the northeast coast of Sweden. Once a limestone factory, now a hotel. Remote, bleak, beautiful.” Kate knows of my fondness for raw concrete structures. It’s a taste I’m not entirely sure I understand.
Part of it I do. I grew up during the fading echoes of the space age. The Apollo program had only eighteen months remaining when I was born, but the ripples of that atomic future, dreamt up in the aftermath of the Second World War, still pervaded the children’s media any young boy without an interest in football was likely to explore. The shelf-life of all that sort of stuff was much longer in those days. Worn-out and tired though that faded promise might perhaps have felt to my parents’ generation, it still felt fresh and exciting to me. Star Trek. Space 1999. The Bionic Man. The future, I was convinced, would be amazing. The future would be atomic.
Where others see rain-stained ugliness when they look at raw concrete buildings, then, I see in their bold angles and overwhelming windows and daring cantilever overhangs the hope of human beings that the future really would be different, that it really might be worth all the pain and fear and hardship. All we had to do was hold on a little bit longer.
And yet, so much of the architecture that remains of this now rapidly dissolving era is not bold and is not daring, and the only way in which it overwhelms is the way in which it seems to drain all the colour and animation from everything surrounding it. It has become the exact opposite of that promise of a better life. It steals from you your hope.
Even so, I still love it.
Furillen is a collection of buildings like this, with plenty of open, barren space between them. The light is grey and the only thing moving is the falling snow. The factory is empty and the workers’ dwellings long ago abandoned.
There is something gut-wrenchingly real about the place, which is somehow both a capture of our past and snapshot of a possible future. It is total. The outside world of green and warmth is either non-existent or irrelevant. This is not a place of beauty. This is not a place of love. This is not a place of living.
And yet, somehow, it is. After all, it just has to be. Human beings do what they have to, wherever they have to do it. They manage.