Etienne-Louis Boullée, though regarded as one of the most visionary and influential architects in French neoclassicism, saw none of his most extraordinary designs come to life. Throughout the late 1700s Boullée taught, theorized, and practiced architecture in a characteristic style consisting of geometric forms on an enormous scale, an excision of unnecessary ornamentation, and repetition of columns and other similar elements.
After a renewed interest in his work in the 20th century, Boullée became most well-known for his Cénotaphe à Newton, an imagined funerary monument to Sir Isaac Newton. The Cenotaph and Boullée’s other elaborate sketches serve as the inspiration for the short film, “Lux in Tenebris,” by Berlin-based practice BBB3. The experimental ArchViz team used 3ds Max to interpret Boullée’s sketches and bring them to life, as he may - or may not - have intended them.
"Lux in Tenebris" presents six of Boullée’s stark, geometric monuments as they could have been, in a form of cinematic speculation. The huge scale of his neoclassical designs and the hint of unseen human presence, paired with the tense music, creates a grand, eerie atmosphere reminiscent of a blockbuster thriller. The only negative is that you may finish the video feeling disappointed that you can’t actually visit these extraordinary structures, after getting a glimpse of their potential.