INVISIBLE CITIES

Esmeralda

2016

"I see them coming up,

late evenings, their dark eyes from the hell

big-eyed, I follow

into the dark tunnels of crookedness,

they did not love my curiosity as the heavens did

Terror!

I run,

but now the heavens seemed to have vanished!

the meandering pathways confusing..

I scream out

and up ahead I see the boatman

Relieved, I ran upto him..

the dark eyes disappeared in the darkness."

 

Italo Calvino

Esmeralda, described in Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities as the city of water formed from a network of zigzag routes that never repeat; a city happening on different levels. He also describes citizens with secret lives who make use of evident and hidden routes in a city full of secrets. The birds are said to reach all points of the city and they know all the routes, there are no secrets from the swallows. 

 

The aim of this design workshop was to create a representation of a city of our choosing selected from this book. The three main points described above summarize the description of the city of Esmeralda, and they were used as the starting points for the drawings executed below.

 

The sketches began by drawing the plan of the city as I could imagine it - a typical view used in architectural representation. This initial drawing led me to further experimentation on a sketchbook, where cut-outs in multiple pages were used in succession to provide 'windows' into each layer of drawing: into each 'layer' of the city. And here the initial circular plan took on another dimension, where the plan was extended into a 'tower' form. As Calvino describes, the paths are confusing with a network providing secret routes which inspired the inclusion of architectural features such as bridges and staircases of different widths, a mixture of elevated platforms and floors to create a seemingly connected structure - the structure of the city. 

 

The exploration of layers with multiple sheets created a three dimensional city, transforming a flat 'plan' or 'elevation' representation into something more: where cut-outs at each level reveal a little more of what is beneath as the viewer becomes the explorer and is transported deeper and deeper until the whole city is laid out in front of him.  

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