The City as a Work of Art

Since the time of Plato and Vitruvius the quest for truth, goodness and beauty has been accompanied by thinking on the ideal layout of the city and composition of its space. It is thus no coincidence that the dream of the ideal city fascinated so many outstanding thinkers and artists of the Italian Renais-sance. The goal of achieving harmony and perfection by creating the ideal city plan – stellar, founded on the principles of regular geometricity – has largely, with a few exceptions, remained a utopia.In 1889 Camillo Sitte’s much-publicised book Der Städtebau nach seinen künstlerischen Grundsätzen was released, and its role evolved into that of a manifesto of thinking on the creation of urban space in artistic categories. It was also a bid – doubtless a very idealistic one – to oppose the negative effects of rapid urbanisation in the industrial age. So should Camil-lo Sitte’s ideas today be dismissed as nothing but the utopias of an aesthete who treated the city as a kind of stage set? Or was his text rather an act of impotence and capitulation by an urbanist? Neither. Sitte was protesting at the reduction of modernday urbanisation to the technocratic dimension, in a sense foreseeing a scenario akin to that which Fritz Lang showed in his apocalyptic Metropolis.But the city is more than simply idea and form; it is also function and process. In other words, the city is a reflection of its civilisation. This is the conception of the city that for twenty-five years has been at the heart of the ICC – our research, our exhibitions, our educa-tional programmes and our publishing activity. The very first conference organised by the centre, Managing Historic Cities. The Case of Central Europe, in 1991, was focused on the tensions that arise between the processes to which contemporary cities are subjected and the heritage amassed in them. Our logo – inspired by the Vitruvian ideal of man and the concept of the golden ratio – expresses a pursuit for beauty through the creation of ideal forms that are at once open and dynamic. It is thus no coincidence that in this double issue of our quarterly Herito accompanying our jubilee marking twenty-five years of the ICC’s work we have decided to tackle the question of whether the city – and in particular the contemporary metropolis – can be a work of art.

    • 1

    • 4
      Worth a Look

  • City as a Work of Art / Landscapes
    • 12
      City as a Work of Art?
      Jacek Purchla

    • 30
      In the Flying Houses of the Future
      Beata Chomątowska

    • 56
      Landscapes of Communism
      Owen Hatherley

    • 68
      Utopia and Exoticism
      Michał Wiśniewski

    • 86
      Architectural Reconstructions as Works of Art
      Małgorzata Omilanowska

    • 112
      Art for Everyone? On Public Art in the City Space
      Monika Rydiger

    • 130
      Falsifying the City: Modernism and the Avant-garde
      Jakub Kornhauser

  • City as a Work of Art / Portraits
    • 142
      Minsk: The Sun City of Dreams
      Artur Klinau

    • 160
      Bratislava: A City without a Plan
      Henrieta MoravčÍková

    • 176
      Bielsko and Max Fabiani: Erasing and Restoring the Memory
      Ewa Chojecka

    • 184
      Who Wrote Trieste? About the Pioneers of the “Paper City”
      Natalia Chwaja

    • 204
      Skopje. All Over Again
      Łukasz Galusek

  • City as a Work of Art / Cityscapes
    • 220
      Nowa Huta: Poland’s Unfinished Utopia
      Katherine Lebow

    • 236
      The Residential Workers’ Estates in Upper Silesia as Total Works of Art
      Irma Kozina

    • 254
      The Culture Zone in Katowice: The Art of Urban Landscape
      Elżbieta Rybicka

    • 272
      Modern Zagreb. Plan, Tradition, Identity
      Fedja Vukić

  • Interview
    • 286
      Prague: Inhabited Ruins of Central Europe

      Derek Sayer in conversation with Robert Kusek and Aleksandra Szczepan

  • Ideas in Practice
    • 298
      Beautiful City
      Ewa Rewers

    • 310
      In Search of the Urban Utopia

      Osamu Okamura in conversation with Martyna Obarska

    • 318
      Nostalgia for the City of the Future
      Janusz Sepioł

  • Reflections, Impressions, Opinions
    • 332
      Worth a Thought

      Magdalena Bystrzak, Karol Kurnicki, Aleksandra Paradowska, Jan Balbierz, Katarzyna Jagodzińska, Wojciech Szymański, Jakub Muchowski, Beata Nykiel

  • By Myself
    • 348
      Connoisseurs of the City
      Wojciech Wilczyk