Cities are universes in themselves; furiously spawning, spewing, hissing through time and space. They are cudgeled, raked, plastered, worshipped, fought over, set on fire; they are slippery wombs that cradle wars, victories, blood and brilliant storms. The built environment has always been indicative of its inhabitants’ fears, desires, and ideals. As such, it is one of the earliest, most powerful forms of human expression. For World Cities Day 2017, the new BBC Designed section of the BBC Culture website commissioned motion graphics designer Al Boardman to create The Perfect City, an animated video covering a brief history of humankind’s quest for the "ideal" and the "perfect" in urban design. With a voiceover and script by renowned architecture critic and writer Jonathan Glancey, the video is a remarkable 2-minute overview of some prominent examples in city planning, both old and new, successful and unsuccessful.
Tracing the story back to
If you were to identify, categorize and map the 21st century’s emergent architectural practices from the world over, all on one diagram, what would it look like? Considering how the current architectural landscape consists of several different approaches, attitudes and political stances, how would you map them without being too reductive? And how would you ensure that out of hundreds of emergent practices and firms across the globe, you don’t leave anyone out? Perhaps the Global Architectural Political Compass V 0.2 could offer a clue.
Created by Alejandro Zaera-Polo and Guillermo Fernandez-Abascal, the diagram is part of an ongoing inquiry into “the state of the art in (global) architectural practice” . In 2016, Zaera-Polo explored the subject in a comprehensive essay for El Croquis titled “Well into the 21st Century” in which he set down the framework for 11 political categories that now form the compass diagram.
Next, Zaera-Polo and Fernandez-Abascal
If the Great Pyramid were to be built today, it would cost between 1.1 and 1.3 billion US dollars, according to a cost estimate by the Turner Construction Company—not surprising, considering how that is roughly the same amount of money that it took to build the Trump Taj Mahal or the Petronas Twin Towers. Complicated structural requirements, delayed work timelines, complex building programs, the need for good earthquake or typhoon proofing, the use of advanced mechanical and electronic systems, and costly materials and finishes can all add up to the eventual cost. But sometimes—and especially in cases in which governments or powerful clients set out to beat existing records such as the “tallest building in the world”—money is spent for no real reason except for an unabashed display of wealth, power or strength.
Emporis, the renowned global provider for building data, has compiled a list