London-based architect Peter Barber is developing 365 urban masterplans, in a project called One Year 365 Cities, to prove that it should be possible “to design a city in 10 minutes”.
Peter Barber is sketching a city every day and sharing the
results on the Instagram account One Year 365 Cities
“One year 365 cities is an attempt to design a city a day for a year,” said Barber, founder of Peter Barber Architects.
He said the inspiration behind the idea was a statement by American theorist Lewis Mumford.
“The idea arose from Lewis Mumford’s assertion that modernism has ‘failed to produce even a rough draft for a decent neighbourhood’, and from a pub remark made by my friend and colleague Ben Stringer, who said that you ought to be able to design a city in 10 minutes.”
The quick sketches, including a town in a ravine, are meant to question the form of cities
Barber, who has designed and built numerous housing schemes in London, has been sketching a design for a city every day since 17 August and uploading them to his One Year 365 Cities Instagram account.
Some of the cities that Barber has designed so far include a town in a ravine in the Basque region of Spain, a farming cooperative in Wiltshire, UK, and a island village of fish farmers in the Thames estuary.
Baber has designed a 100-mile city that would surround London as part of the project
Through the project, Barber hopes to start discussions and reflect on the current form are cities take and how they are designed.
“We need to think deeply about our priorities and how those might be reflected in the production and arrangement of space and how we want our cities, towns, villages to be designed,” he said.
This fisher’s village would be located in the middle of the Thames estuary
“To a significant extent the layout of our cities, and London is a very good example, are products of neo-liberal economics, the commodification of housing and the arbitrary flow of global capital,” he continued.
“In London, which is surely one of the richest cities the world has ever known, this is leading to misery and a segregated city, with 170,000 homeless people and 20,000 empty investment flats, while social housing bequeathed to us by a more idealistic post-war generation is bulldozed.”
Along with prompting serious thoughts about the nature of our cities, the project has helped Barber to structure his own thoughts about design. He hopes it will encourage other people to sketch.
The cities include a farming cooperative in Wiltshire, UK
“I’m an inveterate sketcher. The project structures that a bit,” he explained. “In the course of my day it’s a little 10 minute mental workout, kind of light relief too, and a chance to think beyond the here and now.”
“I wonder if the project will remind people about the joy of jotting down a thought in a quick sketch, the sketch book as a place to escape to, a place to be playful, dreamy, speculative, idealistic even,” he concluded.