49 Cities

May 20, 2009

Wednesday, May 20 sees New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture host Dan Wood and Amale Andraos, principals of WORKac and authors of the new book 49 Cities in conversation with esteemed Archigram alumnus Mike Webb.

The 49 Cities exhibition is up for just a few more days, and is highly recommended. Andraos and Wood applied their research prowess to process 49 speculative city schemes through statistical models to yield best guesses at how they would really look and operate in the real world. “Some cities were built in one form or another,” they write, “but most of them remained on paper. And yet today, many of them have indelibly influenced our global urban landscape.”

49 Cities at the Storefront for Art and Architecture

49 Cities at the Storefront for Art and Architecture

The book should be an enduring touchstone for speculative architecture enthusiasts, not least because these often fantastical projects still fire the imagination even—or especially—when seen through the sober lens of land use apportions, population densities, and scaled plans. The distinction among fact and fiction is less important here than the realization that every city is an idea, however unconscious or shortsighted, before it is built. “While the repercussions of Radiant City, Broadacre City and Garden City have been widely acknowledged, it is interesting to compare recent developments in China and the UAE to some of these visionary plans, ranging from the more utilitarian to the more exuberant.”

For those who can’t make it to the event, I’ll endeavor to report back with any amazing snippets from the discussion—or get the book. The slimness of the volume belies the concentration of revelations within.


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