Lux in Tenebris

Etienne-Louis Boullée was arguably the most influential French architect of the revolutionary era, yet little of his work was ever built.

He made his mark as a theoretician and teacher, defining a stark, geometrical and monumental interpretation of neo-classicism.

Despite achieving recognition in his lifetime, he was largely forgotten after his death, only to be rediscovered in the 20th century.

It is hard to look at Boullée’s elaborate sketches today without wondering how these extraordinary monuments would appear to us if they had ever been built.

What if they had?

Lux in Tenebris is a speculative exploration of the work of Boullée, extrapolated from faded etchings into a fully digital imagined reality.

Below are some stills and screen grabs of the 3ds Max scenes. All comments welcome.

  1. Wow, amazing you did this.

  2. This is really cool ! beside the great CGI work , the directing and sound design is really good too
    it is rendered using V-Ray Next GPU I suppose, right ?

  3. Thanks man! This is a mix. Two thirds of the shots are V-Ray Next GPU and a third is FStorm.

    • Diego
    • June 11, 2019

    Fantastic work, should be shared for academic purposes…

    • Antal Lucian
    • June 11, 2019

    Incredible work Bertrand!!!

  4. Great work on the sound and directing too yes !

  5. Thanks @Nikolay

  6. Thanks a lot @Lucian, @Diego.

  7. Heii, Great work!!!
    little question: how did u make the statues on some of the monuments? just bought it on a 3D Model market? or did you scan it?

    ps: i just shared it to my schools architectural history professors 🙂

  8. Thanks @Jonas. The statues are downloaded from several repositories (from memory, this one and this one
    And thanks for sharing it. I’m sure they’ll immediately see all this is wrong with it!

    • Clemens
    • June 12, 2019

    Very well done Bertrand!
    I actually have a huge smile on my face now. Ever since I saw the “Newton Cenotaph” in a lecture at university I had the exact same idea that you had. What would these buildings look like if they were built?
    I was obsessed with Boullee’s “Metropolitan Cathedral” and spent weeks modeling it but unfortunately the project never got finished.
    Anyways, thanks for the inspiration and also some new motivation. I am always fascinated of how you follow through with all your projects!

  9. Beautiful Work Bertrand!

    I was waiting for this work of yours with anxiety! As a small constructive criticism and from a purely architectural point of view, in the last projects, which are also the largest, it is difficult to appreciate their gigantic size, perhaps because they are inserted in a landscape without appreciable references.

    In any case, the result is very poetic and I really like the mysterious atmosphere of the video.

    I would love to see you recreate the interior of the Cenotaph!

  10. @Clemens, thanks for the kind words!

  11. @david, it’s a good point. I originally had low-poly people in one of the scenes, but I found it diminished the general enigmatic feel I was after. Later on I realized I should probably have added a flock of birds here and there for the reason you mention.

    • Stephan Mönninghoff
    • August 2, 2019

    I admire your attention to detail. Bug-perforated olive-leaves? Really? You must be mad! Huge compliment. This is inspiring work.

    • Hazem Bassal
    • August 17, 2019

    Impeccable film/art direction! This should be on infinite replay in museums everywhere!

  12. Thanks Hazem. That’s very kind.

  13. Bertrand! This is breathtaking. I am in love – so inspirational.

    I allowed myself to share it on our newsfeed, if this is ok with you? Kindest regards from Kreuzberg. Peter, xoio

  14. Hey Peter. Thanks a lot! This is more than ok. It’s much, much appreciated!

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