Imagining a present different from the one we live in is an essential condition for creating the future, even if often what we imagine is an utopia and it is unrealizable. Just as the Nobel Prize Ilya Prigogine stated, “Utopias of the Future build up the Present”. Phantom Architectures is a book full of fascinating illustrations proposing the theme of utopia in architecture, collecting over 50 examples of projects designed by great architects that have never been built. A skyscraper one mile high, a dome covering most of downtown Manhattan, a triumphal arch in the form of an elephant. In the projects included in the book architects took materials to the limits, explored challenging new ideas, defied conventions, and pointed the way towards the future. Some of them are architectural masterpieces, some simply delightful flights of fancy.
Curated by Philip Wilkinson the “Imaginary Architectures” (Italian title: Atlante delle architetture fantastiche – Utopie urbanistiche, edifici leggendari e citta’ ideali: cosa sognavano di costruire i massimi architetti al mondo) published by Rizzoli illustrated, gives great space to fantastic architecture.
Some of those unbuilt wonders are buildings of great beauty and individual form like Etienne-Louis Boullee‘s enormous spherical monument to Isaac Newton; some, such as the city plans of Le Corbusier, seem to want to teach us how to live; some, like El Lissitsky‘s “horizontal skyscrapers” and Gaudì‘s curvaceous towers, turn architectural convention upside-down.
Above: Asian Cairns, Shenzhen, Vincent Callebaut, 2013