Rendering of the $1bn 'Real Madrid Resort Island'; All images: Real Madrid via The Guardian
Writing in "Architecture and Utopia", Manfredo Tafuri asserted that contemporary architecture had been neutered, so to speak, of its utopian impulse by capitalist development, which has left the field and its practitioners "obliged to return to pure architecture, to form without utopia; in the best cases, to sublime uselessness." Tafuri's words seem especially prescient today when one observes the landscape of current architectural production, where one can readily find the "sublime uselessness" of not only every project dreamed up by Lord Foster, Zaha, and Gehry, but also the ridiculous schemes peddled by developers everywhere from Dubai to Azerbaijan. All of this work carries the superficial indices of the "visionary", but without any of the actual substance that accompanied and informed that of the most daring modernist utopias of yesteryear.
The newest frippery to be ogled is international football soccer club Real Madrid's plans for a $1 billion holiday resort island in the United Arab Emirates. As the Guardian reports, the endeavor, which will be sponsored by the government of the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, was presented yesterday at Real's home pitch, the Bernabéu, where high-res renderings of a marina, luxury hotels, an amusement park, a club museum, and a seaside 10,000-seat stadium were flashed before a fawning crowd. Commenting on the project, Real president Florentino Pérez endorsed the project as a "major tourist and sporting centre of great dimensions and the highest level," with expectations to draw more than one million visitors upon the 430,000 square-meter complex's completion in 2015. The resort will be constructed on the the artificial island of Al Marjan, equidistant between Europe and Asia, where 300 million fans of the club reside. The club, which ranks among the wealthiest sports teams in the world, is seeking to broker the project as a "decisive and strategic step" to strengthen the institution's influence in emerging economies in the Middle East and Asia.