„A heavy-duty pool had to be built in an extra short time” – Dezső Ágoston project manager
The main profile of the ARC-S Group architecture studio is not film assignments, but if they are approached with such a request, they know that they are facing a very exciting and challenging task. Dezső Ágoston talked about the challenges of building the pool of the Blade Runner 2049 film.
Budapest Reporter: The company basically deals with architecture, design, technology and developments.
Dezső Ágoston: Our company was the designer and project manager for this pool. We have a good relationship with Origo Studios, and we have already planned several things for them, this has also developed a set design relationship, and this is not our first reference in this field of design.
Bpr: How the design of the “Blade Runner 2049” film came to you, as the company mainly deals with architectural assignments.
D. Á.: Origo Studios contacted us about the current set, but we received the order directly from the domestic production. In the preparatory phase, we examined where the set could be optimally implemented, considering all the needs of the team. Many aspects had to be considered (large floor area, easy walk around, easy built around, infrastructure availability). The needs of the production were constantly evolving and with this the task became more and more complicated as to what exactly this pool should look like. Thus, considering the important design considerations and the shortness of time, the possibility of selecting the area had to be extended to all home film studios. In the end, MAFILM’s site in Fót was chosen.
Currently, the pool is also on the MAFILM website and can be rented for various productions. It is important to note that they are different from a typical scenery, because they are usually built temporarily and as such, for the most part (this is not always true of this statement) they are not subject to licensed construction activities because they are demolished after a few months.
The pool also started as a scenery, we were thinking about a detachable scaffolding system, maybe a mobile barrier system and how to assemble it in a large area. However, this involved a great risk in terms of its load-bearing capacity and durability, and we came to the conclusion that the construction of the monolithic reinforced concrete structure would provide sufficient safety and we would build the additional scenery and visual elements in it. With this decision, we were also able to ensure the reception of equipment with a dynamic effect, such as a wave generator.
Due to the final production needs, the geometry of the tank became complex and a sink was placed in the middle, plus the total water depth of the pool was 6 m. The resulting building was designed as a solid durable structure, which became an activity subject to a building permit. When the final demand was formed, it was licensed in record time, and we were fortunately obtained all the necessary licenses in one month. Time was one of the most important factors during the work, as the dates of the pre-determined filming days had to be ensured.
For the permit to put into use, we had to make sure that the tank was suitable for human habitation – staff worked in the water during the shooting, including e.g. divers – so accordingly we had to make the water quality suitable for official permits we also had extra little time.
The basin can hold 4,500 m3 of water, and filling it was also problematic, as it means such a large amount of water that the residents of Fót would have felt it if we had done so without consultation.
Thus, we first agreed with the water supplier that when we fill the pool, we discussed, we concluded that when communal use is low, the daily amount of water is limited. This took several days to fill the pool.
Bpr: What could be figured out to keep the pool clean?
D. Á.: Equipped with pool level pool equipment, the system was high performance, i.e. oversized to the point that the system filtered and kept the amount of water clean in a timely manner.
Bpr: Were there any other interesting or difficult issues related to the construction of the pool?
D. Á.: On the side of the pool there is an opening, a gate in the reinforced concrete wall, which is actually a gap and there the builders walked in and out, building interior sets so the interior sets were assembled. Prior to filling with water, a flood barrier was installed in the gate.
We provided the structure for the car frame shown in the picture and the film colleagues installed special devices in it. We had to work with a virtual team and set designers, special effects and they told us what structure to build. We were in constant consultation with the actors of the scene, the technical realization of the set was a very exciting task.
It was also interesting that the production required the inside of the pool to be black, so we tried to build a concrete structure that was already colored in its material, but we did not achieve the required darkness during the preparation of the specimens, so it was eventually painted afterwards.
Bpr: What was the biggest challenge?
D. Á.: The task was a great challenge to implement the listed technical needs in such a short time. We had a total of three months from the first thought until the actual building of the pool. Normally this takes more time.
Bpr: Would you like to have a similar film related job?
D. Á.: Yes of course. The ARC-S Group aims to have film projects as well, and an American production is currently in preparation. We are in contact with domestic production offices, set builders and studios, so we are confident that there will be similar tasks. Usually we come into the picture when it is not the usual set, but a more complex thing to do. To do this, we can provide the necessary engineering background.
Bpr: How is a film production different from an “average” assignment?
D. Á.: Perhaps in that filmmaker’s approach it subjects differently than an average person. There was a production in which there was a scene of a house flooded with water. The filmmakers approached this completely differently than I would have thought it. We made plans for a 1-1 copy of a part of the building, then manufactured it, hung it on a 400-ton crane, then moved it in several positions and immersed it in water. These ideas bring the need for specialized engineering knowledge.
Bpr: Have you planned any more film works, if so, what would be your “dream” assignment?
D. Á.: We take part in quite a lot of work in our field, we would really like to take on a special task in any major production of film.