Drawing Atlantis – and Other Lairs of Evil Villains

John Hill
5. November 2019
Plan view of Atlantis, the evil lair of Karl Stromberg in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (Drawing: Carlo Fueyo; all images courtesy of Tra Publishing)

Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains, a new book by architect Chad Oppenheim, is an extremely fun romp through fifteen films that are united by the incredible lairs of their bad guys, and are beautifully depicted through highly detailed architectural illustrations.

With silver ink on black paper, the book is visually stunning but also carefully aligned with its theme: evil people in film and the places where they live and ... work isn't the right word ... mastermind their evil plans. Published this week by Tra Publishing, which recently put out a monograph on Chad Oppenheim and his Miami- and Muttenz-based practices, the book is a visual feast that should appeal to both fans of cinema and of architecture – and the many, like myself, who love both. 

The links between architecture and film are clear, so it's not necessary to delve into them here; but focusing on a very particular niche in Hollywood movies makes for a tightly focused book that is also tightly structured, with each of the fifteen films described in terms of their story, villain, and villain's lair. Aiding these descriptions are architectural illustrations and renderings by architect-turned-film professional Carlos Fueyo of playard studios. Below are a few highlights of Fueyo's images from the book, which moves from the early James Bond films that arguably started the trend of evil lairs to such recent films as Ex Machina.

Another view of Atlantis, the underground lair that rises out of the sea in The Spy Who Loved Me; Oppenheim describes it as "a pewter-colored metallic octopus" and "a cross between a deep-sea oil rig and the Populuxe 'Theme Building'" at LAX. (Drawing: Carlos Fueyo)
Ernst Stavro Bloffeld's hideout in another James Bond film, You Only Live Twice, is an old volcano that has been turned into a rocket-launching pad. (Drawing: Carlos Fueyo)
If there's one lair that looks like it would belong on a site like World-Architects, it's the Alaskan compound of Nathan Bateman in Ex Machina. That's not a coincidence, though, since two projects in Norway designed by Jensen & Skodvin stood in for the compound. (Drawing: Carlos Fueyo)
Sam Bouchard's house in Brian De Palma's Body Double is one of two John Lautner houses in the book used. The Chemosphere house in Los Angeles, currently owned by publisher Benedikt Taschen, has been used in numerous films and TV shows, but none as memorably as De Palma's Hitchcock-inspired "stylishly overheated erotic thriller." (Drawing: Carlos Fueyo)
Lex Luthor's lair 200 feet beneath Grand Central Terminal is the most classically inspired setting in the book. With its ornate rooms and central, grotto-like pool, it's also a difficult space to grasp in its entirety while watching Superman; Fueyo's cutaway perspective is very helpful in this regard. (Drawing: Carlos Fueyo)
The last film in the book is Danger: Diabolik, named for the villain who lives in a cavern graced with many striking architectural structures that must have been cutting edge in 1968, when the film was made. Here we see Diabolik's subterranean garage and fleet of Jaguar cars. (Drawing: Carlos Fueyo)
Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains

Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains
Chad Oppenheim, Andrea Gollin (Editors)
Carlos Fueyo (Illustrations)

9.2 x 13 in.
296 Pages
Hardcover
ISBN 9781732297869
Tra Publishing
Purchase this book

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