The Real-Life Buildings Used to Sell Elysium's Luxurious DystopiaS

Elysium, Neill Blomkamp’s long-delayed futuristic Matt Damon vehicle, tells the story of a class war between the unwashed masses, who live on Earth, and the super wealthy, who live in an absurdly opulent community in the sky. And as it turns out, the super-luxe buildings of Elsyium's tomorrow actually exist right here in the present day.

The movie, which comes out in August, is a barely veiled critique of the current divide between rich and poor. But a new viral ad portending to be the sales website for Armadyne, Elysium's real estate development corporation, illustrates just how current.

If look closely, most of the homes and buildings touted on the Armadyne website already exist. And if they don't already exist, they were already imagined. Let's take a look.


The Buildings

The Real-Life Buildings Used to Sell Elysium's Luxurious DystopiaS

On the fictional Armadyne website, we see a list of "recent projects" completed by the corporation. Some of them are very famous pieces of modern architecture.

The Real-Life Buildings Used to Sell Elysium's Luxurious DystopiaS

For example, Elysium's "Marine Opera House" is actually Santiago Calatrava’s City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia.

The Real-Life Buildings Used to Sell Elysium's Luxurious DystopiaS

The eco-habitat's “Solar Residential Towers”? That's Helmut Jahn’s very real Sony Center in Berlin.

The Real-Life Buildings Used to Sell Elysium's Luxurious Dystopia

This "tranquil view from an Elysium estate" is actually a tranquil view of a new condo building in Miami's South Beach, and a villa on Elysium's "Sunset Terrace Estate" comes from a stock photo of a real villa on an undisclosed island.

The Ship

Meanwhile, the concept of Elysium itself borrows from a well-known set of NASA concept drawings from the 1970s, which depict a massive, rotating space habitat.

The Real-Life Buildings Used to Sell Elysium's Luxurious DystopiaS

The Real-Life Buildings Used to Sell Elysium's Luxurious DystopiaS

The opening shot of the Elysium trailer (top) shows us a lush habitat spinning above the earth. If the dimensions and structure look familiar, that's because they're clearly inspired by an illustration from NASA's archives (above).

The Real-Life Buildings Used to Sell Elysium's Luxurious DystopiaS

The Real-Life Buildings Used to Sell Elysium's Luxurious DystopiaS

Even the dimensions of the structural supports are similar. A view of Elysium from the interior (top) and a similar shot from the base of NASA's rotating habitat (above).
Rotating wheel space stations in sci-fi date back to the early 1900s. The basic idea is that a rotating ship can generate artificial gravity, making it possible to live (and farm) in space for longer than a few months.

The Real-Life Buildings Used to Sell Elysium's Luxurious DystopiaS

The Real-Life Buildings Used to Sell Elysium's Luxurious DystopiaS
A view of Elysium's exterior (top) compared to NASA's version (above), which was abandoned because of the sheer expense.
It's worth mentioning that the relationship between NASA and the film industry has long been a two-way street. Studies have shown that designing movie sets for films like "2001: A Space Odyssey," while far from realistic, has actually helped real-life space engineers prototype their ideas. [Armadyne]