The New York Times today has a slideshow by Christoph Gielen (accompanied by a column written by Geoff Manaugh, of BLDGBLG fame) as part of its Living Rooms series. It’s worth a look. Gielen takes aerial photos that reveal the abstract beauty of unpleasant places, including subdivisions and prisons. The photos are all from the Southwest (Arizona and Nevada) and reveal just how perfect our mastery of the landscape can be. The images are especially appealing to me—not only am I a sucker for plan view, since I spend the majority of my work-time drawing, thinking, and studying plans, looking down on buildings and places real and imaginary—but I also get all excited whenever I see things posed so perfectly on the border between abstract and real.
Sadly these communities themselves seem dreadful, and strict geometrical urban planning beyond small landmarks has always struck me as design of last resort, bullying the landscape rather than engaging it. Yes, it looks cool from an airplane, but I can’t say I’d want to live there.