AjÃ¡. New york, New York. Flying there today. So while the big city appears from the outer edge of my airplane window: I leave you with a recent post from the BLDG Blog.
Great project. And now two cities to step into, one posed upon the imaginary of what might have been.
(As if one New York were not more than enough for ten days.)
A fantastic new iPhone app by Irene Cheng and Brett Snyder has come to market in New York City this autumn. Sponsored by the Van Alen Institute, Museum of the Phantom City is “a public art project that allows individuals to browse visionary designs for the City of New York on their iPhones.”
Users can view images and descriptions of speculative projects ranging from Buckminster Fullerâ€™s dome over midtown Manhattan, to Antonio Gaudiâ€™s unbuilt cathedral, to Archigramâ€™s pop-futurist â€œWalking City,â€ all while standing on the projectsâ€™ intended sites.
In other words, you go around the city, iPhone in hand â€“ a kind of architectural dowsing rod held in front of you â€“ discovering the traces of buildings that never were (perhaps even fragments of a city yet to come).
Proposals by Buckminster Fuller are suddenly as real as the Empire State Building â€“ after all, they’re both pictured right there on your iPhone…
As the New York Times wrote this morning:
A mile-high dome shades Midtown Manhattan, an airport floats off Battery Park, Harlem is enveloped in a hulking megastructure literally lifting residents out of poverty, and the tallest building in the world, continuously under construction, sprouts from ground zero, growing without end.
â€œItâ€™s the city that never was but could have been,â€ said Irene Cheng, an architectural historian. â€œSort of an alternate future.â€
Without mining the architectural avant-garde and its history of impossible projects, and before you even get to things like science fiction films and comic books, and as you hold yourself back from exploring the spatial reserves of ancient myth and urban legend â€“ weird tunnels beneath midtown, World War II bunkers, secret apartments of the rich and famous â€“ you can simply tap the ongoing economic recession for architectural content.
It would be easy enough, in fact, to put together a tour of building projects that never made it past the recession â€“ New York’s so-called “Lost Skyline” â€“ or, for that matter, of the buildings that never made it past the Depression.
You walk past a certain corner on the Upper West Side and your iPhone starts to ring: you’re being called by a missing building… Absent structures detected in a wireless blur, leaving messages for you (complete with call-back number).