At the sides of the highway, the children saw the forest: a thick growth of strange trees blocked the view of the plain. Their trunks were very very slender, erect or slanting; and their crowns were flat and outspread, revealing the strangest of shapes and the strangest colours when a passing car illuminated them with its headlights. Boughs in the form of a toothpaste tube, a face, cheese, hand, razor, bottle, cow, tire, all dotted with a foliage of letters of the alphabet.
Italo Calvino, Marcovaldo trans. William Weaver (London: Minerva 1993) p. 37
The regular block that Cerdà put forward, as the supporting element of the buildings, was a square, 113-metre-wide block, with a 19.8 m chamfer. The intervention was carried out following complex, detailed and concise reasoning, whereby he introduced variables like the surface of the plot of land, the height of the building, density, etc. After obtaining eight possible main sizes and eight small variants, he finally chose the 113.28-metre-wide block. However, as you would expect of any good technician, he omits the decimal points and is left with the 113 metres used in the project.
Miquel Corominas and Joel Bages, ‘The Morphological Base of the Block’, in Joan Busquets and Miquel Corominas (dirs/eds), Cerda and the Barcelona of the Future: Reality Versus Project (Barcelona: Diputacio de Barcelona and Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, 2009), p. 74.
In Ersilia, to establish the relationships that sustain the city’s life, the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses, white or black or gray or black-and-white according to whether they mark a relationship of blood, of trade, authority, agency. When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave: the houses are dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain.
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities trans. William Weaver (London: Vintage 1997) p. 68