How Does Your City Stack Up...Sideways?

A project by French artist Armelle Caron looks at what happens when you take the patterns of blocks that make up a city's form and organize and stack them sideways. Robert Krulwich investigates what such an exercise reveals about a city.
September 15, 2012, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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By dismembering, dissecting, categorizing, sorting and stacking the shapes that make up a city's blocks, Caron has constructed her own visual language of cities. So when you look at some of the urban areas that have come under her knife, what might they be saying? Krulwich takes a stab at translating some of the forms. 

On Berlin: "Berlin, of course, contains mainly rectangles. It also has trapezoids, triangles and, down in that last row, weirdly shaped squiggles that represent actual city spaces. So, if you are walking through Berlin, the cityscape isn't going to repeat endlessly. There will be surprises. There are some totally irregular nooks and crannies there."

On New York: "Take away the bums, the fashionistas, the food carts, the cabs, the colors, the smells, the sounds, cut it up and stack it on a table, New York's grid system seems more than a little monotonous."

And on Istanbul, seemingly the most diverse set of blocks illustrated in the article: "Check out the top few rows - these are blocks, remember - and then imagine wandering around these curves, angles, sudden narrowings. Walking that city has to be amazing."

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Published on Thursday, September 13, 2012 in NPR
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