Students in UIC’s “Visionary Cities Project” have pitted a selection of urbanist theories against one another, to see how historical visions of urbanism compare on a common ground. The studio, run by Alexander Eisenschmidt at the University of Illinois at Chicago, takes urbanist models and schemes from the likes of Piranesis, Le Corbusier, and Hilberseimer, and reinterprets them on the blank slate of an upcoming development for the city of Ilfracombe, on the UK’s southern coast. In reality, Ilfracombe’s new district is being developed by the artist Damien Hirst, with a plan for suburban subdivisions. But the UIC studio is interpreting the expansion as a “cultural instigator”; producing a collection of drawings that Eisenschmidt calls “HiDef Cities of Architectural Urbanism.”
Eisenschmidt provided the following "Historical Context" for the studio:
Architectural urbanism has a long history, which only by the mid-20th century was questioned as the urbanisms of modernism were unable to revolutionize or reform the metropolis. From Piranesis 18th century Campo Marzio dell’antica Roma via Cerdà’s Plan for Barcelona in 1859 to Le Corbusier’s Plan Voisin of 1925 and Hilberseimer’s imaginings for Chicago during the 1950s, architects where keen to envision new urban worlds. By revisiting these earlier schemes and rethinking their techniques and ambitions, the project aims to identify possible forms of architectural urbanism for the contemporary city.
Below are a selection of student drawings from the studio, enacting historical urban planning models on Ilfracombe’s shores. The illustrations aren't meant as by-the-book reenactments of urbanistic principles: they're meant to be expressive, with a dash of academic-irreverence.
↑ Wall City (detail), credit Anton Tonchev.
↑ Node City, credit Alexandra Maksymec.
↑ Pixel City (detail), credit Hannah Hortick (intended to be viewed with color-filters or 3D glasses).
↑ Disc City, credit Adam Dwornik.
↑ Viaduct City (detail), credit Daisey Martinez.
↑ Modernist Campo: A map that assembles historical architectural visions of the city and blends different schemes to speculate on new forms of urbanism.