We have shown many visions for cities of the future on TreeHugger, from King Gillette’s grand idea for Niagara Falls (which I still hope they will build) to Sky City in China. So when I saw the image of the Cubic City, shown above, I was intrigued. It was an idea put forward in 1929 by a Reverend Louis Tucker, in a science fiction story called “The Cubic City.” and is not that different from many of the ideas for vertical cities that we are seeing again today,
It took a bit of digging to find the story behind the image that was evidently published in a 1929 issue of Science Wonder. According to Marten Kuilman of Quadralectic Architecture, the Reverend was “inspired by descriptions of the Bible (Revelation 4: 6-8) to create his utopian world.”
This got me very excited; when I was in architecture school I studied the Sharon Temple, north of Toronto, and learned these verses of Revelation because David Willson, the founder of the religious sect that built the temple, used the same passages as his blueprint, coming up with a perfectly square plan with doors on all four sides.
I started searching for the story and the only place I could find it was in an anthology of old science fiction, which I was able to buy on Amazon for ten bucks (I love the Internet). The Cubic City is a terribly written story, with a bit of racism, sexism and ableism thrown in. But there are some interesting ideas, including the concept of the crime of Inurbanity, of not being a good urban citizen:
It goes on to describe other crimes of Inurbanity, including being boorish or stupid, “people with complexes and phobias, “in short, who bother others too much and will not change, are classed as “Inurbane.” It then gets even more seriously politically incorrect, although this was written in 1929 and some of these ideas were pretty popular then. Let's stick to the architecture:
But there are also the descriptions of the city, where Reverend Tucker shows how if you don’t need windows, you can pack people into a very efficient building. The idea developed after cities became so crowded that regular skyscrapers couldn't accommodate everyone, and there simply wasn't enough room for lateral transportation, so they had to go vertical.
There are also vast sunbathing decks where people spend half an hour a day minimum in skimpy clothing to catch a few much needed rays and let doctors check out their bodies. There is terrific internet service that gives you all the information and entertainment you could possibly use.
Essentially, Reverend Tucker has proposed what Paolo Soleri called an arcology,
...a highly integrated and compact three-dimensional urban form that is the opposite of urban sprawl with its inherently wasteful consumption of land, energy resources and time, and tendency to isolate people from each other and the community....The multi-use nature of arcology design would put living, working, and public spaces within easy reach of each other and walking would be the main form of transportation within the city.
Reverend Tucker couldn't write much of a plot, but his vision of a cubic city was certainly prescient. And I do like the idea of making Inurbanity a crime.