For its thirtieth birthday, the Princeton Architectural Press is re-editing some of its past book including the beautiful OneFiveFour by Lebbeus Woods which was first published in 1989.
This book is actually a collection of eleven projects drawn by L.Woods from 1984 to 1989. However, I feel that it is more interesting to consider the ensemble of drawings and models as one single project which constitutes his vision of a city somehow lost in time, driven by an ambiguous technology that recalls the steampunk of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (The Difference Engine).
The following text is an amazing excerpt from Woods’ introduction about his project Underground Berlin (see previous article) that creates a metaphorical and romanticized city out of the situation of Berlin in the 80’s:
What is happening in this city is much more than political unification. What is happening is acclimation of people to new conditions of life. Beneath the surface, within the planetary mass of the earth, a new climate of forces exists geomechanical forces that issue from deep within the earth -gravitational electromagnetic, and seismic forces that come to shape the forms and relationships comprising life in the underground city itself.
From the subtly vibrating planetary mass of earth come seismic forces that move the inverted towers and bridges in equally subtle vibrations. The inhabitants of the city feel them, perhaps in a way we would call subliminal because the structures they build are of metal sheets -steel and aluminum and bronze and copper. These living and working places vibrate and resonate in the great civic spaces of the city. Like musical instruments, they vibrate and shift in diverse frequencies, in resonance with the earth and also with one another.
A way of living is in this way formed. The builders of the city have sought political independence by going beneath the earth, under the Wall, subverting the designs of occupying political rivals, and have found something unexpected: a new world, a world of seismic wind and electromagnetic flux, a world of constant and not unpleasant temperatures, but also of continuous change. Their structures, built to connect inversely with the world above, are instruments of this change, measuring both the life of the inanimate planet and the corresponding changes of those living within.
Lebbeus Woods. OneFiveFour. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1989.