Broadacre City

Iris Burgers

When it comes to memorable cinematic airport architecture, Preston Sturges’ THE PALM BEACH STORY (1942) is an interesting example. At the beginning of the film we are shown a scale model of a new type of inner city airport. The architect/engineer explains the practicality of his design to a rich investor. A steel mesh made of stretched cables hung above a city functions as a runway. According to architect Tom Jeffers [Joel McCrea], his design is a safe solution for having an airport in the centre of the city. This idea might look highly ridiculous, yet it really wasn’t. Architects and planners have always used utopian designs for instance to test possible solutions for complex questions, or to convey shared values (Reiner, 1984: 136). At the beginning of the twentieth century the airport was a new building type and it was uncertain how aviation would develop. Architects therefore experimented with ideas in designs to explore the possibilities of airports. This is exactly what happens in the movie as Jeffers was trying to find a solution for the increasing demand in air travel in combination with its proximity to urban areas. Well known real life examples of experimental designs that place aviation in the inner city are: ‘La Nuova Citta’ (1914) by Antonio Sant’Elia; ‘Plan Voisin’ (1922-25) by LeCorbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright’s ‘Broadacre City’ (1930s – 1959). While these plans may not be called realistic, they are however important in the way visual representations generated new meanings for new developments, like the combination of aviation and daily life. (source: paper 'Transient Glamour' for the Liverpool conference 'City in Film'. Iris Burgers)

Articles

Architect Jeffers shows his utopian air city design

The Palm Beach Story (1942)

1942

Explaining the air city design to a rich investor

The Palm Beach Story (1942)

1942

Tiny airplane lands on model of air city

The Palm Beach Story (1942)

1942

Closer view of air city model

The Palm Beach Story (1942)

1942

ontwerp King's Cross

ontwerp voor een luchthavenstation King's Cross, Londen.

1931

La Nuova Citta’ (1914)

Futuristische stad, incl. luchthaven.

1914

Plan Voisin

Ontwerp voor een nieuwe stad, incl. luchthaven.

1922 - 1925

LA airport skyscraper

1926 - 1925

Moon Doom

cartoon

1928 - 1925

Liverpool Street Station

1945 - 1925

Broadacre City

plattelandsgemeenschap met luchtvervoer

1950 - 1955

Lehigh Wheel design

'Looking far into the future, this design submitted by H. Alvater of New York, suggests a huge wheel resting on the roofs of many skyscrapers.'

1929 - 1955

Rush City Reformed

Moderne Metropolis incl. luchtverkeer. (late jaren twintig - jaren dertig)

1928 - 1932

Flying City project (Ville Volante)

Georgy Tikhonovich Krutikov (1899–1958) was a Russian constructivist architect and artist. Zie: Cooke, Catherine, (et al) (1990). Architectural Drawings of the Russian Avant-Garde. The Museum of Modern Art.

1928 - 1932

Flying City project (Ville Volante)

Georgy Tikhonovich Krutikov (1899–1958) was a Russian constructivist architect and artist. Zie: Cooke, Catherine, (et al) (1990). Architectural Drawings of the Russian Avant-Garde. The Museum of Modern Art.

1928 - 1932

Flying City project (Ville Volante)

1928 - 1932

Flying City project (Ville Volante)

1928 - 1932

Aero City

1926 - 1932