New column: Architecture

As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the world’s most dashing Brit licensed to kill, we couldn’t help but notice the importance of the design legacy James Bond has left behind. It’s not just about the girls, the missions and the gadgets. Stunning architecture and extraordinary sights are there too and not by accident.

Architect: Mary Giatra

Ian Fleming had a very specific taste when it came to architecture. He was an outspoken hater of modernism and maybe this is why all of the Bond villains reside in modernist spaces with obvious influences from Le Corbusier or Frank Lloyd Wright.

Ken Adam is the architect behind seven of the movies. He designed spaces that are complex and futuristic. He expressed himself through the movie’s utopia by creating cyclical geometric forms and diagonal lines that accentuate the space’s perspective and the villain’s megalomania. Cold materials like concrete, steel and glass complete the image. On the other hand, the spaces where the good ones move are more realistic and less changeable. Wood, leather, warm colors and more classic style make the space more familiar. In that way we can somehow relate to one of the coolest heroes in the pop culture history.

Designers Syd Cain, Dennis Gassner, and Peter Lamont followed Ken Adam and created Bond worlds that have included everything, from an octopus-themed bedroom to a fast-melting Ice Palace. After fifty years, five continents and countless martinis, the franchise’s “lethally” stylish world still amazes us.

Dr. No, 1962 

A futuristic set designed by Ken Adam in the first James Bond movie, starring Sean Connery. Dr. No’s Crab Key facility housed a nuclear reactor (shown here) and a five-star hotel. Impressive!

Goldfinger, 1964 

One of the most memorable designs,the stud farm of one James’ worst enemies, Auric Goldfinger. The large wood-paneled room could be transformed at the touch of a switch into a gas chamber.

You only live twice, 1967 

Adam’s design (left) and realized project (right), housed a rocket-launch station inside a volcano in Japan. One of the most expensive and complex movie sets of its time.

Diamonds are forever, 1971 

The Elrod house, designed by John Lauren, is one of the most notable architecture moments in all the James Bond films. Cool and severe geometry combined with a sense of drama house the place where Willard Whyte was kept hostage by Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the 1971 Sean Connery film.

For your eyes only, 1981 

The Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Meteora, Greece, was one of the most dangerous locations used on a 007 film. The monasteries, which have been classified by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, are located on rock pillars high in the air. A big challenge for Sir Roger Moore who has a fear of heights.

Octopussy, 1983 

The villain Octopussy, found his home in the luxurious Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur, India. The pretty impressive floating hotel can only be accessed via small boats and served as a very exotic locale for the 1983 movie.

A view to kill, 1985 

The Château de Chantilly, which is located in the picturesque town of Chantilly in France, was featured in the 1985 film as the home of the villainous Max Zorin.

(The Grand Chateau was originally constructed in 1528-1531 to the designs of Pierre Chambiges but destroyed during the French Revolution leading to its replacement in 1875-1881.)

License To Kill, 1989 

This is the Sheats-Goldstein Residence by John Lauren, placed in Beverly Hills, California. It is an example of Organic Architecture and was conceived from the inside out. It is a cave-like building that focuses on the nature and the view overlooking Los Angeles.

(The house has been featured in many other movies like “The Big Lebowski” and in the short film of Nicolas Winding Refn in the recent campaign of Gucci Premiere, starring Blake Lively.)

The World is Not Enough, 1999 

The Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, designed by Frank O. Ghery, is featured in the 1999 Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan. A spectacular structure made of titanium, glass and limestone, it is considered to be among the most important ones of its time.

Die Another Day, 2002 

This is the Ice Palace hotel for villain Gustav Graves, created by Peter Lamont. Once again high technology meets James Bond. The inspiration for the Ice Palace came by a real ice hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.

Quantum of Solace, 2008 

The ESO Hotel at Paranal Observatory in Chile played a very important role in the movie’s plot. The actual building was used but a smaller replica was built as well for the scenes where the hotel is destroyed.

Skyfall, 2012 

Complex sets, high technology, LED animations on oversize billboards and the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai star in the latest 007 movie. You just have to watch it and enjoy it…

 Live and let deco!