Motopia: An Idea for an Upside Down City
via Tom Vanderbilt/Public Domain
Almost everybody has been saying nice things and showing beautiful photos of the work of the late Oscar Niemeyer, (Witold Rybczynski is an exception), but the fact is that Brazilia, the city he designed with Lucio Costa, is not exactly a model to emulate. Brazilia was the biggest built example of a planning ideal Le Corbusier's, a Radiant City where cars are separated from pedestrians.
At about the same time that Niemeyer was building Brazilia, British architect Geoffrey Jellicoe had a different idea: Put the cars up in the air. Matt Novak writes in Paleofuture:
“No person will walk where automobiles move,” is how British architect Geoffrey Alan Jellicoe described his town of the future, “and no car can encroach on the area sacred to the pedestrian.”
Jellicoe was talking to the Associated Press in 1960 about his vision for a radically new kind of British town—a town where the bubble-top cars of tomorrow moved freely on elevated streets, and the pedestrian zipped around safely on moving sidewalks. For a town whose main selling point was the freedom to not worry about getting hit by cars, it would have a rather strange name: Motopia.
It seems rather odd, putting the cars up in the air like that, but it certainly does clear up the ground plane for people in what appears to be a cross between a Fujian Tulou and Apple's new headquarters. For some reason it didn't catch on.