Insane technotopianism update. The Line, ‘a revolution in urban living’ (via MeFi) that feels like a bait car for angry urban designers. Visionary ideas have always existed and always will, and while some are obviously trolling, others have felt like a parking lot for megalomaniacs. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City was based around the idea of giving every resident an acre of land, with all infrastructure buried below (just like The Line): “There were separate lanes for cars and trucks with a monorail in the center. Under the roads were large warehouses where the trucks could unload their cargo, letting smaller trucks distribute the freight throughout the local area.”
Almost all city visions, built and unbuilt, are predicated on the notion of hiding something, whether it’s the urban poor in Haussmann’s Paris, or the pesky people, trucks, cars, trains, etc. (delete as applicable) that clutter up the precious architecture and seamless technology of contemporary visions. Approaches to density are up for grabs as well: people are either crammed together or scattered apart, depending on the ethos at play? One form of not-quite-fully-realised transportation tends to be prioritised above all others, whether it is autonomous shuttles, flying machines, vacuum tubes or pedestrian travelators. And most importantly of all, a fully defined aesthetic is strongly implied, from Jellicoe’s Motopia to Robertson’s Regent Street to Broadacre City to Rudolph’s Lower Manhattan Expressway to Corb’s Algerian fantasy (‘Blocking the Casbah’, indeed).
We’ve recently seen Bjarke Ingels’ climate change resistant masterplan (via dezeen) go up against Liam Young’s Planet City, a provocative retort to the technotopianism of BIG, but a mere stumble or shrug in comparison to the cocksure arrogance of the ‘true’ visionary. Arguably, and perhaps regretfully, The Line stands far more chance of being built than everything else put together. Whether its legacy is a shining beacon for all to follow or a complex jumble of abandoned hyperloop spaghetti buried beneath the desert sands is yours to decide.