When I was a kid, this sort of glimmering, utopian architecture seemed unambiguously awesome. Who wouldn’t want New York to include “an imaginary tranquil oasis above the mega developed and polluted city”?
For that is what Tsvetan Toshkov’s MEGATROPOLIS project promises.
And then, sadly, life intruded, as well as art, and now it’s impossible for me to view projects like this, however far-fetched, without considering the social, environmental and aesthetic costs. Or the expressionist masterpiece “Metropolis,” which was itself inspired by director Fritz Lang’s view of the New York City skyline from the deck of a ship.
In Lang’s 1927 film, the beautiful outer skin of the vertical city conceals a dark truth, that of severe class stratification. And although Manhattan was once spectacularly diverse, it now contains the widest income divide of any big county in America: a mean income of $799,969 for the top 5%, and just $9,635 for the bottom fifth.
What’s interesting is that among all the oohs and aahs these images have predictably inspired are some clear notes of revulsion. And from what I can tell, these aren’t even New Yorkers complaining:
- "I’m sure they would let us up to do all their shitty work for them thou."
- "Not in New York. These buildings will destroy wonderful and unique view of the city!"
- "Great place for the elite to use to look down on us, create true separation eh?"
That said, I showed these images to my kid, and she had no such qualms. Like I might’ve said when I was her age, her attitude was unequivocally "Cool. Bring it on."