Dream Cities-I

Integrative Studio Week 4


For this class,we had to submit 15 thumbnails based on any 5 cities from the book Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. Here are the cities I chose:

  • Baucis
  • Euphemia
  • Tamara
  • Octavia
  • Sophronia

For each of these cities, I had to make 3 versions/thumbnails. I usually started off by reading the chapter properly. I then broke the chapter into three parts if possible. If not, then I wrote down key words that described every chapter, around 5-6, and then used these in different combinations to create my thumbnails.

For Baucis, I first interpreted the ‘stilts’ in the story as made up of bamboo. I created a settlement imaging what a network of structures connected by bamboo stems would look like. I used structures resembling bird houses and pea pods, connected to each other with branches of bamboo, surrounded by clouds since they were so high up from the ground. The second way of representing it was as a single massive rock with a flat top, supported by thin ‘flamingo legs’. I showed the entire city on this rock , having rounded and smooth structures to help them stay rock solid against air resistance at high altitudes. The third interpretation was by describing the stilts as tall jutting shards of rock. I showed the entire city carved out from these rocks, and connected by man made roads.

For Euphemia, it was pretty straightforward. I broke the chapter down into three parts. The first frame about ships and trade, golden muslin and wooden barrels. The second frame was about merchants travelling from far off lands to trade in this city, and the yellow mats laid flat in the main market where everyone struck a deal. The third was about trading memories,sitting on barrels around a bonfire. I also depicted summer solstice,winter solstice and the equinox in the background of these frames.

Euphemia, Tamara And Sophronia

Coming to Tamara, this was pretty clear in its description so I did not have to make many assumptions. It was a city full of signs. Again, I split the chapter to help create my thumbnail. In the first frame I showed the thick forest which leads up to the city, the dolphin and lion statues and symbols , and various different wooden signboards around the city. I also showed the bridge from where fishing wasn’t allowed,and under which one could water their zebras. In the next frame,I showed different kinds of tenples which represented different gods.The chapter then talks about forms which represent their own function, such as the Pythagorean school, the mint,etc. I showed these structures as stacks of coins, perpendicular triangles, a single prison jail cell ,etc.

Octavia, the spider web city, is another chapter which has clear descriptions. But since it is not long, I split the thumbnails into different perspectives of the city. In the first one I showed the top view of two cliffs and a dense spider web stretched between them, acting as a base for all the structures that look like the woven up prey of the spider. The second one depicts a side view, showing the cliffs along the sides, and a huge fishnet structure suspended between them. Here I added the elements mentioned, the trapeze,rings, hammocks, houses with gondolas on top and hanging pots of plants, cable cars, stretched ropes to walk on,etc. In the third frame, I show a more zoomed in view of the living arrangements, so I put a faint grid in the background representing the rope network, and showed the possible structure of the house, plants, hammocks, trapezes and cable cars.

Sophronia and Octavia

Lastly,Sophronia was made of two half cities. I showed two blocks making up two different halves in the first thumbnail, in almost an isometric view. Making sure to show a rollercoaster to represent the carnival half, I used basic cube shaped buildings for the regular half. The second thumbnail is another interpretation of the city,where I put the two cities as two halves enclosed in a huge glass dome,separated by a wall. The last thumbnail is from the perspective of sitting inside the caravan. I tried to imagine a person inside the caravan in which the marble and stone city was packed, and seeing the carnival half of the city through the window.

For this class, we had to start imagining our own dream city. We had to come up with 3 concepts for an imaginary city. This basically sent me into a daze, and it took me a while to figure out what I wanted my concepts to look like. The problem I faced was that there was way too much to choose from. And I was mixing up themes that did not match, and realising it later, then starting all over again. But I finally came up with three ideas:

  1. City of Simulations – Each person would live their life in a personalised simulation.This would be controlled by the government. In reality they would not move even an inch from their homes, but lived their entire life within someone thr government had fabricated for them.
  2. City of Metaphors- Inspired by the city Tamara, all the structures in this city would represent the function they provide. Eg. Schools would look like stacks of books, banks would look like sacks of coins,etc.
  3. Rodent City- An underground city dominated by a rodent-human hybrid race. Would worship rodents as god-like entity, while humans will be considered below this race. City completely underground in the dark, with a network of burrowed tunnels branching out endlessly.

Out of these, the faculty and I agreed upon Concept 2, i.e the city of Metaphors. I was told to work upon the details and create 3 iterations of this city, representing how it would function and look like.

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