> Unknown Industrial District

(author: jarling-art)

> An Utopia Called Welthauptstadt Germania

Around the world we can admire planned capitals. Brasilia, Washington DC and Canberra are cities built from scratch, utopias that became reality, even with questionable long-term results. So Hitler was an utopian too. During the Nazi period, and wishful to see Germany dominating the world, he exposed the plans to turn Berlin into a monumental and splendorous capital - 'Welthauptstadt Germania' means 'World Capital Germania'.

In fact the project was very well-studied, even during the war, and if Berlin was not destructed yet, Hitler acquired land, ordered the demolition of some buildings and saw some avenues being established. However the engineers knew that the soil of Berlin was too marshy to endure so many big buildings. When the war ended these plans became totally forgotten, and today Germania is just a temporary museum piece. Anyway, I was in Berlin recently, and what I saw was a monumental city still being constructed; it is destiny.

"Plans for this grandiose city included a stadium that could house 400,000 spectators, a Chancellery with a lavish hall twice as long as the one at the Palace of Versailles, the Triumphal Arch (based on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris but much, much larger), and a giant open square to be surrounded by large government buildings. The centerpiece of the new city would be the Volkshalle, or People’s Hall, which would include a humongous domed building designed by Hitler himself and chief architect Albert Speer. If this domed building was built it would still today be the largest enclosed space in the world, being sixteen times larger than the dome at St. Peter’s."

(citation taken from here)
(video with more info and pictures about Germania)
(video with renderings showing Germania)

> 'Science & Mechanics' Illustrations

Hugo Gernsback (1884-1967) was a Luxembourgian inventor who went to United States in 1905 to develop his ideas. To publish a magazine about inventions started to be a way to get exposition. In 1926 Gersback created a magazine exclusively about science-fiction, and a decade later, he fused both thematics on "Science and Mechanics". This pulp magazine survived until 1984, but left us great covers, often representing retro-futuristic landscapes.

> Unknown Prague

(author: merl1ncz)

> 'Not Tall Enough' Series - The Illinois

My last article was about Broadacre City, a standard piece of territory designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Despite his obsession for dispersion and decentralization, Wright put on Broadacre City some skyscrapers, like the one-mile tower called Illinois. In fact, while individual houses represent the philosophy behind Broadacre, Wright adorned the rest of the landscape with other buildings he projected before.

"Because the Broadacre project was an exploration of horizontal space, a one-mile-high skyscraper might at first seem out of place — but by the 1950s Wright had decided that some cities were 'incorrigible', and that even Broadacre City could use a tall building as a cultural and social hub." 

Individually, Illinois was projected to be built in Chicago, and is described in "A Testament" (1956). It is supposed to be an architectural affront, however Wright justified it by using the same engineering that supports today the very similar Burj Khalifa, or the not-constructed Kingdom Tower. So, Illinois was more than a dream. To climb the 528 stories, Wright proposed as well atomic-powered elevators that could carry 100 people. Every technical detail was thought, but Illinois remains a fantasy.

"The foundation of Wright’s building was a massive column, shaped like an inverted tripod, sunk deeply into the ground. This supported a slender, tapering tower with cantilevered floors. In keeping with his belief that architecture ought to be organic, Wright likened this system to a tree trunk with branches."

"Wright insisted the mile-high building was no joke; it was 'thoroughly scientific'. He said that several prominent Chicagoans were already interested in the project. He had even picked out a lakefront site near the Adler Planetarium. Most of the tower's 500-plus floors would be office space for city, county, and state government. Wright said that 100,000 people might be accommodated. The top nine floors would be TV studios, topped off by a 330-foot antenna used for coast-to-coast broadcasts."

Structure ID
Name: The Illinois
Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Height: 1 730 metres
Function: Offices
Author: Frank Lloyd Wright

(citations taken from here and here)

> Introduction to Frank Lloyd Wright and Broadacre City

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) is probably the most famous name among the American architects. He was an architect, engineer, interior designer, planner and writer; many capabilities turn his work into comprehensive and organic masterpieces. What makes Wright's architecture so unique is the way he embraced the technological changes allowed by the Industrial Revolution. But, in contrast to what other modern architects did so patently, Wright considered the specific environment - and human spirit as well -, as an important part of a building. Organic Modernism became a possibility, and represents maybe the first American architectural style. Fallingwater, near Pittsburgh, is today a National Historic Landmark.

"Using this word Nature…I do not of course mean that outward aspect which strikes the eye as a visual image of a scene strikes the ground glass of a camera, but that inner harmony which penetrates the outward form…and is its determining character; that quality in the thing that is its significance and it’s Life for us, – what Plato called (with reason, we see, psychological if not metaphysical) the 'eternal idea of the thing'." (Wright)

Frank Lloyd Wright was a great utopian too. He was a dreamer, a dreamer obsessed with harmony. He established a standard dwelling called Usonian house (in spite of 'American' house), that is intended to be simple, cheap, affordable, easy to build, and consequently to transform the American suburban landscape. Despite the unwanted costs, the Usonian houses contradicts the individualism of American way of life, and were built in a very small quantity. Curiously, the urban sprawl in American cities are very consistent with Wright's ideals.

However, the most utopian vision of Wright was Broadacre City, which uses principles applied in Usonian houses and other projects more related to spatial planning. Some of these projects were constructed, but others, like 'Quadruple Block Plan' (images above), defines a radical change in urban form, and just remained as philosophy.

"As early as 1903, given the opportunity to lay out a neighborhood (in Oak Park, which was never built), Wright proposed a 'quadruple block plan' that placed an identical brick house on each corner of a block; he shielded the inhabitants from the public street with a low wall and oriented them inward toward connected gardens that encouraged exchanges with their neighbors."

More than an utopia, Broadacre City (images above and below) was a concept continuously worked by Wright. He wrote a lot about it ("The Disappearing City", 1932), produced drawings and scale models. Broadacre is an antithesis of a city because is intended to be a criticism to industrial cities. Indeed, this utopia uses the possibilities allowed by cars - or helicopters? - and communication technologies to merge the nature with urban quality of life. Incredibly what Wright's critics saw as an utopia, it is today a reality: immense motorways connecting 'cottages' with dispersed services, commerce, sport facilities and offices. Like Howard's garden cities, Broadacre wants to be a rural and decentralized unit that could be replicated infinitely.

"The 'broad-acre' city, where every family will have at least an acre of land, is the inevitable municipality of the future... We live now in cities of the past, slaves of the machine and of traditional building. We cannot solve our living and transportation problems by burrowing under or climbing over, and why should we? We will spread out, and in so doing will transform our human habitation sites into those allowing beauty of design and landscaping, sanitation and fresh air, privacy and playgrounds, and a plot whereon to raise things." (Wright)

"Broadacre isn’t a city; it is a landscape. Decentralised in organisation it is self-sufficient in supply, republican in constitution, and populated by auto-mobile citizens."

(Broadacre City represented in a 1997 computer animation)
(more info and photos about Broadacre here)
(Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation website)
(citations taken from here and here)

> Unknown Coastal City

(author: Antifan-Real)

> A Short Story About Upside-Down Skyscrapers

It is official, we are living again the era of skyscrapers! While the East progresses economically, high-rise buildings became an international architecture. Nevertheless there is a strong conceptual competition to turn a simple high tower into a global landmark. This is very significant when we take a look at eVolo annual skyscraper competition. However the craziest concept I ever saw is very old, and the reasons to develop it are related to a big problem of security conditions.

After the great earthquake of 1923, which killed 140 000 people in Tokyo and Yokohama mainly, the Japanese engineers started to think how to host many families in a single safe structure. An article written in the November 1931 issue of Popular Mechanics newspaper, exposes the solution by introducing an inverted skyscraper, or... a depthscraper. It is like an open 35-story tower stuck in a huge hole beneath the ground. One story above the surface supports logistically the whole infrastructure which is covered by armored concrete and supported by steel.

"It was natural, then, that the best engineering brains of Japan should be devoted to the solution of the problem of building earthquake-proof structures; and a clue was given them by the interesting fact that tunnels and subterranean structures suffer less in seismic tremors than edifices on the surface of the ground, where the vibration is unchecked."

"Fresh air, pumped from the surface and properly conditioned, will maintain a regular circulation throughout the building, in which each suite will have its own ventilators. The building will be lighted, during daylight hours, from its great central shaft, or well, which is to be 75 feet in diameter. Prismatic glass in the windows, opening on the shaft, will distribute the light evenly throughout each suite, regardless of the hour."

Therefore it is not surprising that recent utopian projects use the same idea, even with different reasons. eVolo competition (who else?) has a project - designed by Matthew Fromboluti - to construct an underground skyscraper in an abandoned open-pit mining operations in Arizona.

"Below ground is a 900 foot-deep skyscraper that contains areas for living, working, farming, and even recreation. A light rail system connects the self-sufficient community to the nearby town of Brisbee, and solar and wind energy will be generated. Daylighting will stream in though the skylights to light up the lower parts of the tower, and the entire structure acts as a solar chimney that ushers hot air out through the top of the dome. As the entire complex is located underground, it will not be subjected to the intense heat that above-grade buildings face in the desert. Growing terraces near the top soak up the light from the skylights to grow produce for the entire complex."

In 2011 the same competition awarded with honorable mention a 'groundscraper', projected by the Italian Metarchitects, and called 'Rhizome Tower'. Each tower is an underground city and works as a part of a great network of groundscrapers.

"The project is divided in four different layers, organized around a central core that is open to the light. The first layer is above the surface and contains the recreational, and food production facilities, with agriculture fields, farms, and glasshouses. The entire facade is covered with photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy and specific locations are also equipped with wind turbines. The second layer, approximately 60 levels, is the residential part, with a diverse range of living quarters according to family sizes. The third and fourth layers are used as offices, and service areas with the deepest part of the project dedicated to the study and harvest of geothermal energy."

More impressive is the project called 'Earthscraper', which is defined as an inverted pyramid that penetrates 1000 feet into the earth below Mexico City's largest public square. Curiously, the mayor already expressed his opinion: only over my dead body...

"It's called an 'earthscraper', and it's a unique solution to a problem affecting almost every large, historical city on earth. You can't build skyscrapers on what little undeveloped land is left in Mexico City, on account of height restrictions. Historical preservation, height restrictions, and density: Pick two. You can’t have them all. Unless you dig."

(citations taken from here, here, here and here)
(eVolo competition website)
(Matthew Fromboluti's project and official website)
(Rhizome Tower project)
(Earthscraper in Archdaily article)
(video about Earthscraper)

> Unknown Sunset

(author: Forcg)

> Triton City - the First Utopian Seasted

This is the third post I write about seasteading, and probably It will not be the last one. A lot of architects and scientists are thinking about the possibilities of creating cities on water, thus, a bunch of utopian projects are developed to make us dream about an interesting future. However there was one man that almost saw his seasted being constructed.
Buckminster Fuller was a brilliant visionary, scientist, environmentalist, and philosopher who, in the 1960s, received a proposal from a wealthy Japanese patron called Matsutaro Shoriki, to design a floating city in Tokyo Bay. It was called Triton, and was intended to has a shape of a tetrahedron that measured two miles on each side, and capable to host 5000 residents. Shoriki died in 1966, but the United States Department of Urban Development was aware enough to start to support the Fuller's project. 

"His designs called for the city to: be resistant to tsunamis, provide the most possible outside living, desalinate the very water that it would float in for consumption, give privacy to each residence, and incorporate a tetrahedronal shape which provides the most surface area with the least amount of volume. Everything from education to entertainment to recreation would be a part of the city. Fuller also claimed that the low operating costs would result in a high standard of living."

"Schematics for Triton were sent to the United States Navy's Bureau of Ships, to check it for 'water-worthiness', stability and organic capabilities, then off to the Bureau of Yards and Docks to see whether or not they could even build this thing, specifically at the cost they had projected. Both Bureaus gave the thumbs up, and the Navy's cost estimate came within 10% of Buckminster's. And that's probably the craziest part of Triton: At every stage, it was going to work."

After the scientific approval of the project, the city of Baltimore tried almost everything to put Triton City in Chesapeake Bay. However, because of administrative instability and bureaucracy, Fuller got tired of waiting for approval, and just gave up. A scale model and a book with Fuller's plan are in American museums today, to remember the moment in which magic almost happened.

(citations taken from here and here)
(the book "Study of a Prototype Floating Community" in Amazon)
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