New Babylonians: Contemporary Visions of a Situationist Cityby Iain Borden
Renowned for its decadence and hanging gardens, ancient Babylon was a cosmopolitan cultural centre which established the civic principles of freedom and law. In 1959, a member of the Situationist International, the Dutch artist Constant Nieuwenhuys, entitled his utopian vision of a unitary urbanism "New Babylon". With the aid of coloured perspectives, plans and models, as well as a potent narrative, Constant delivered a shocking image of a metropolitan future.
Today over 40 years later, there is a renewed interest in Constant and the thinking of the Situationist International. In two seminal essays by Mark Wigley and David Pinder, quite how substantial their impact on urbanism has been revealed. It is, however, through the publication that a highly disparate group of architectural practices and cultural thinkers emerge - the New Babylonians - all inspired in very different ways by situationism.
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