Ideal Cities

Ideal Cities

I've long been fascinated by the concept of arcologies - self-sustaining cities that need little from the outside world. In 2011 I wrote about the concept for Wired, and about how SimCity 2000 "made me", and in 2015 I tried to build one in a videogame.

So when I was strolling through Gothenburg City Museum the other month, part of the exhibit on the town's history caught my eye. It was a display featuring ideal cities designed by various architects over the centuries. Here are a few photos - excuse the potato quality, it wasn't well-lit in there.

These designs date all the way back to the 15th century, when they emerged in response to the cramped, dirty cities of the late medieval era. Some of the earliest surviving designs came from the mind of Antonio di Pietro Averlino (also known as Filarete, meaning "lover of excellence" - what a nickname!), who laid out in great detail his ideas on how to build a city called Sforzinda, tying together "the talismanic power of geometry and the crucial importance of astrology".

How could I resist? I snapped the shots above, and when I got home, set to replicating the designs in my favourite vector design software, Figma. I've done one so far - Sforzinda itself, which is bottom centre above. Here's my vector version:

Of course I had plot it. I used a gold Pilot G-2 rollerball pen on black cardstock, and the result is genuinely stunning.

I'm planning to replicate and plot a few of the others to make this a series. If you see any other similar designs then please let me know! I'd love to hear about them.