After a seven days’ march through woodland, the traveller directed towards Baucis cannot see the city and yet he has arrived. The slender stilts that rise from the ground at a great distance from one another and are lost above the clouds support the city. You climb them with ladders. On the ground the inhabitants rarely show themselves: having already everything they need up there, they prefer not to come down. Nothing of the city touches the earth except those long flamingo legs on which it rests and, when the days are sunny, a pierced, angular shadow that falls on the foliage.
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
I have always been influenced by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. As a work of fiction Invisible Cities offers a whimsical approach to thinking about cities and the built forms that shape them. Calvino’s imaginative descriptions defy the laws of physics and the limitations of modern urban design. He provided expanded views on how cities could be formed and how they could function. I have always wanted to reproduce the cities described in Invisible Cities a series of drawings but have resisted because part of the beauty is the imagery it elicits with each rereading. After reading Cities & Eyes 3 (excerpt above) about the city named Baucis I thought of the artist Sarah Sze. Her elaborate installations explore the space between art and architecture and the couple projects I am highlighting play with vertical structures like stilts, ladders and ‘flamingo legs’.
Life with Landscape, 2011, High Line, New York