Since 2009, an annual Thrilling Wonder Stories event has taken place at the Architectural Association in London, bringing people together from multiple disciplines to explore the spaces between science, fiction, and design.
On one hand, these events take the form of an extended look into the role of architectural spaces-including real buildings, but also film sets, computer game environments, and spatial simulations-in propelling, staging, catalyzing, or otherwise framing narrative storylines. This requires speaking not only to architects, but to novelists, game developers, screenwriters, film set designers, and even Hollywood directors to discuss their own particular requirements of, and relationships to, the built environment-but also to ask, more specifically, how the spaces they design, describe, feature, or build affect the development of narrative.
This is the cultural dimension of the event-the “wonder stories.”
On the other hand, THRILLING WONDER STORIES has also looked both to science and science fiction as resources of ideas that might play spatial roles in future design projects-where I use the word spatial, not architectural, very deliberately, so as not to limit this to a discussion of buildings. This means bringing in robot makers and biologists, geologists and geneticists, not to ask them about architecture but simply to learn about their work. The point, in other words, is not to extract architectural ideas from their research-as if fully formed building programs could somehow be pulled from a presentation about synthetic organisms-but simply to add to the overall mix of scientific (and science fictional) ideas available for reference in future design conversations.
This is the “thrilling wonder” side of the series.