Cities that never have been built – sometimes for the better

Every time I visit Paris I am positively surprised that even though the city center has undergone countless transformations over time, it still kept its human scale. In the past, many architects and city planners have, as for most other cities or urban developments, proposed radical changes to Paris. From brutalist architecture to garden cities – many proposers wanted to shape the city in a new direction, following their own philosophy and intentions. A good article – and behind it also a very good book – is “Never Built New York” by Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell (2017). The book allows us to view the city from a totally different angle and fantasize about how it would look now – respectively how its inhabitants would live. Another great exploration it this direction is the book “Bahnvisionen Im Engadin” by Jehli, Hofmann, Huber and Gross (2011) that looks at landscapes and how they would have changed if they where realized (from an alps grossing by boat to cities in the alps).

Overall, these projects and ideas all still have merrit today – mostly in a different context and size – and we should not forget what other persons before us have considered as technical and social solutions. When reflecting on these – and especially why they where not implemented – we can draw better conclusions what concepts we ought to pursue.




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