Thursday, 17 July 2014

Invisible Cities Project: Solari

There is a depressing sameness that pervades our urban spaces – deepened by the dulling realization that 50% of urban space is reserved for motor car use.

Perhaps the most radical modern architect was Paolo Soleri – who I have just learned died at the end of 2013.  Soleri envisioned cities where motor vehicles were excluded from urban space – and where urban space was re-engineered into fantastic shapes.  His cities have never been built – although a small model village has been under construction at Arcosanti in Arizona since 1970.

Below, I have imagined one of Soleri’s fantastical designs – the Hexahedron – a self-contained urban environment - on the Monaro Plains.  

If ever built, the city would replace a traditional flat surface city covering many square kilometres, with competitively small impacts on the environment.  The compact size would eliminate most transport costs and reduce power grid losses in larger areas.

In looking for alternative city scapes, as part of the Imaginary Cities Project the team is now actively looking for different architectural styles and approaches (which is why I turned to Solari).   I was shocked to find so few images of his work - I suspect that the genius of his work has been walled up behind copyright.  So I have drawn this version of a city from scratch.

The Imaginary Cities project team has now captured terrain and landscape skins for the first cities in the Imaginary Cities project – and collection of resources for the project is nearing completion.  Images from the work will start appearing in the next month or so.  A meeting on the project this week discussed methods of rendering the imaginary cities.  An obvious first choice is building terrain and buildings with the software product 3ds Max (for extreme photorealism).  However, a number of software platforms are under consideration including computer game engines like the cry engine ( or similar, but with day night cycles (  An interesting possibility is the free build capability of another game engine, City XL (

Peter Quinton
17 July 2015

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