Monday, July 13, 2009

ANGST/itecture [3] : City Limits

In contrast to Ballard's "Concentration City" and Nihei's "Blame!", concept artist Jesse van Dijk in "Project Indigo" conceives of a vertical city in the sea, where space is scarce (... not entirely unlike the island of Japan, but mostly without the vertical). What kind of society would such extreme, constrained conditions give rise to?
"My principle idea for this city came down to a (somewhat) harmonious society with huge differences in standards of living. Because flat ground is so expensive, only the super-rich can afford to live on top of the pillar, where the climate is nice and sun-hours are plentiful. As one descends into the pit, the hours the houses are exposed to direct sunlight daily decrease, making house prices lower, which is why the poorest groups of society live at the bottom of the pit. However, people are not necessarily unhappy at the bottom, there are still children playing in the water, etc. While there is crime (and more of it in the poorer/lower districts) it's a time of peace, not war."
-- Jesse van Dijk

Ballard explores a similar dystopian vision of oppressive architecture and limited space in the short story "Billennium":

"There is no plot as such. The story is set in the future (possibly c. 21st century - see billennium) where the world is becoming increasingly overpopulated, with a population of around 20 billion. In the city in which Ward and Rossiter live, there is a mass shortage of space and the inhabitants live in small cellular rooms where they are charged by ceiling space, the legal minimum decreasing to 3.5 square metres per person. The city streets are enormously crowded, resulting in occasional pedestrian congestions that last days at a time. Most old and historical buildings have been taken down to make way for new battery homes or divided into hundreds of small 'cubicals'.

The story revolves around Ward Rossiter's combined discovery of a secret, larger-than-average room adjacent to their rented cubicle. As the two bask in the extra personal space that they have never known, things become complicated when they allow two other close friends to share the space, and the ensuing snowball effect of their invitees bringing family to live in the room. In the end, the "luxurious" space comes to be the same type of crowded cubicle that they were trying to escape from in the first place."
-- Wikipedia : Billennium

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