Crowdfunding has made the impossible possible, especially so when it comes to architecture.Take, for example, the “invisible city” idea of 2014, which was supported by Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton. It was a plan to create three giant tree houses in Regent’s Park, which would act as platforms for culture, performance and debate. Then there was the time when radio hosts of KIRO’s Ron & Don Show started a crowdfunding campaign to buy and preserve the Edith Macefield House. The 108 year-old bungalow, and the owner’s tenacity not to relocate, was the inspiration for the movie UP by Pixar. Arguably, crowdfunding not only allows people to build on dreams that may have otherwise never achieved proper funding, but also allows fiction to become reality. And let’s face it, we seem to be lured by the prospect of the fantastical. This was seen by the fanfare which followed the announcement of “Podditon”. In July, glamping company West Stow Pods asked literary enthusiasts to help create a Hobbit hole. To build a replica halfling house, the company asked for £50,000.
Of course, the campaign ran into copyright issues, and has removed all references to Tolkien and “The Hobbit” – yet it has not deterred fans. With five days to go it has raised £19,698. The Kickstarter page promises the house will be a showpiece of “modern, low-impact environmental building techniques and materials whilst employing the latest technology in low carbon power generation to supply under floor heating and domestic hot water.” Although West Stow Pods owner Jan Lenguel admitted he was not a fan of the books, he hoped that by keeping the holiday home affordable, he’d encourage Brits to explore the Suffolk countryside. This should be relatively easy to make compared to other architectural pieces found in the world of Lord of the Rings. Minas Tirith, however, wouldn’t be one of them. Despite many suggesting that the project would be impossible, it hasn’t stopped a bunch of British architects from trying. How much money would it take to build a gigantic city such as Minas Tirith? Well, nearly £2bn, according to the project’s Indiegogo page. “We are fully aware of the scale of our ambitions,” Jonathan Wilson, who set up the campaign, explained. “We are an ambitious team of architects and structural engineers who are passionate about creating a beautiful, inspirational and fully-functioning replica of Peter Jackson’s depiction of Minas Tirith, as seen in his Lord of the Rings films.” According to Wilson, the team shares a desire to challenge the perception of the community and architecture. He claimed that by realising Minas Tirith, the team could create not only the most outstanding tourist attraction in the world, but also a wonderfully unique place to live and work. His team estimate the costs at £15m for the purchase of land, £188m for labour and £1.4bn for materials. The group also plans to complete the work by 2023. However, the fundraising battle is far from won, despite the fact that the project has raised an impressive £47,232 in 13 days. For £100,000 you garner yourself a lordship or ladyship title, which gets you access to all areas of the city by “use of horse-drawn carriages for transport.” However, in true Lord of the Rings fashion, Minas Tirith may already be in peril due to an orc attack – you heard right! A rival crowdfunded movement has launched with the aim of tearing the planned city down.
Named Destroy Minas Tirith, the project aims to raise £1m in order to recreate the Orc siege of the White City as shown in Peter Jackson’s movie. Fantasy author Tom Stacey wrote in a mission statement: “As loyal servants of the Dark Lord, we cannot allow this to happen. Join me in gnashing your teeth and stamping your feet. Your gold will buy many pointy and shiny things which we can stick the humans with.” For £10,000 you can be an orc commander, with “lots of Orcses to shout at and tell what to do”. You apparently need no training ras orcs are very good at taking direction. For £100,000 you can enjoy a ride on a Nazgul Fellbeast. So far, the campaign has only raised £22. By Shané Schutte
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