Charles Simonds

Floating Cities, 1978

With this “Floating Cities” project, Simonds imagined a new type of urban organization based on mobility, exchange and its inhabitants’ wishes. Refusing to adopt the widely accepted principle of a “specialized” city, i.e., one where each place is linked to a function, the artist proposes to transfer the sites onto floating barges, designed according to different typologies (housing, public buildings and office buildings, industry, green spaces, etc.).
With this method, the city becomes a space in perpetual mutation and recomposition, exponentially increasing relational possibilities and offering new ways of communicating and producing. Freed from its hold on the ground, open to other temporalities, Simonds’ “Floating City” has the value of a “radical” counter proposal, within the context of American society which has been deeply influenced by the foundation myth of land and property.
Through a series of photomontages, the artist offers a poetic and dynamic vision of a utopian city embarked upon the ocean. He utilizes little models made of wood, which he then combines in playful compositions. His typologies become pieces in a set of dominos that make it possible to build one’s “own city” according to the models’ features, i.e., their color, size and function.

Aurélien Vernant

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