If on arriving at Trade I had not read the city’s name written in big letters, I would have thought I was landing at the same airport from which I had taken off. The suburbs they drove me through were no different from the others, with the same little greenish and yellowish houses. Following the same signs we swung around the same flower-beds in the same square. The downtown streets displayed goods, packages, signs that had not changed at all. This was the first time I had come to Trade, but I already knew the hotel where I happened to be lodged; I had already heard and spoken my dialogues with the buyers and sellers of hardware; I had ended other days identically, looking through the same goblets at the same swaying navels.
Why come to Trade I asked myself. And I already wanted to leave.
‘You can resume your flight whenever you like,’ they said to me, ‘but you will arrive at another Trade, absolutely the same, detail by detail. The world is covered by a sole Trade which does not begin and does not end. Only the name of the airport changes.
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
We all have experienced a city like Trade, a continuous city. In North America, it can be hard to differentiate the suburban environments from one another because of the similarity in planned housing developments and smart centres. The title of this post is a riff off of a famous project, Il Monumento Continuo (Continuous Monument) by Superstudio, a radical group of Florentine architects. In 1969, Superstudio saw how globalisation was taking over the world and objected to how the built environment was becoming standardised. Continuous Monument was a visionary megastructure that would eventually replace every built structure on the planet with a continuous global grid. Seen as a dystopia, Continuous Moment commented on the dissatisfaction the group had with the uninspiring urban form that they believed was a result of globalisation and standardisation.
Around the same time Frederick Kiesler, in 1966 started a project titled Endless House. Endless House was a vision of continuous organic form that had no beginning and no end. While Kiesler’s notion of continuous form differed in scale from Superstudio both explored the ideas of uninterrupted fluid form which were common themes in the sixties.
I know that the sixties was a radical time for visionary architecture but with current technological advances in engineering I wondered who might be exploring and constructing the notion of a continuous form today. Here are some interesting developments.