They Live

FACSIMILE - Bartlett BSc Architecture Unit 4 - Luke Pearson and Ana Monrabal-Cook

Bartlett Website Unit 4 Profile

“There’s no more beautiful city in the world provided it’s seen by night and at a distance” Roman Polanski, Chinatown

“LA, the most photographed city in the world, yet the least photogenic” Thom Andersen, LA Plays Itself

Unit Four continues its exploration into architectures of public delight, antipathy or bemusement by visiting the city that can truly attest to have been founded on such principles:


LA has always intertwined fact and fiction. The architecture of the city bears witness to an urban sprawl built up through capital investment and property developers who used their constructions to communicate versions of a history that is as fantastical as the productions of Hollywood itself. Buildings such as the Bradbury feature as film characters rather than subjects; they are more famous and have more distinguished filmographies than most film stars.In decades past, before digital technologies eased direct access to information, this export of the vision of a city was primarily through creative endeavour, through writing, music and most importantly films. This allowed a city such as Los Angeles to write its own myth, and then render this through architectures that suggest histories and futures that never truly existed.However, new ways of remotely viewing contemporary L.A. allow us to see beyond the curated image this myth represents. We now have tools for understanding the city that take the previous notion of the ‘survey’ the ‘map’ or the ‘view’ and turn it on its head. These new ways of remote seeing and understanding, allow us access to a representation of the city deemed true to the source; the city becomes a Facsimile.

Unit Four poses the question: Is a city that takes pride in the image it portrays adapting to the new and widely available surveying instruments and methods of reproduction to continue its hold on the image of the American Dream? Will buildings or components be choreographed to play along with the forecasted upgrades of new technologies?


This year we will focus on the difference between viewing and being viewed, reading and rewriting. Surveyors employ a number of instruments to survey the earth’s surface depending on the nature of the task; clinometers, alidades, topographical range finders and tacheometers to name a few. Similarly film directors employ certain equipment to record a setting and convey a notion of space and time. The two have in common the need for a physical location. Yet with new digital tools, this physical location may be understood remotely, as a FACSIMILE of the real city.