Tuesday, August 11, 2015

“In and around the years when the first photographs of the Earth were taken from space, speculative architectural design was inspired by the visual scale of the whole Earth as a comprehensive site condition, and spawned scores of now-canonical megastructure projects. Many proposed total utopian spaces (islands cut off from the world, per Fredric Jameson’s discussion of the utopian genre in sci-fi), including The Office for Metropolitan Architecture [OMA]’s Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture (1972) and Superstudio’s planet-spanning Continuous Monument (1969), while others sought the utopian through the maximal perforation of boundaries by ludic interfaces and absolute grids, including Archizoom’s No-Stop City (1969) or Constant’s New Babylon (1959-1974)… The merger of cities into planetary-scale conglomerations was imagined, among others, by Constantine Dioxiadis as Ecumenopolis, a single planned urban form across the whole world, and Paolo Soleri as Arcology, enclosed megacities rising into the lower atmosphere, so large they constituted their own ecosystems… They provide a link between the grandiose progressivism of high modernity (such as the massive Karl-Marx-Hof in Vienna, a neighbourhood-sized building from 1930 holding over 1,300 apartments) and ideas for extra-planetary colonies on Mars (dating at least to the late nineteenth century and perhaps best articulated in their political complexity by Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy, 1993-1999)."

from "Cloud Megastructures and Platform Utopias" by Benjamin H. Bratton

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