The feverish, uncontrolled proliferation of contemporary cities motivates the conception of new design strategies to curb the anticipated chaos. As early as 1920, Hendrik Wijdeveld concludes that the modern metropolis is in danger of exploding. He considers the city an outmoded phenomenon and introduces spacing as one of the positive qualities for the ideal of the Cityless City.
Travelling around the main cities of Europe in the early years of the twentieth century, Wijdeveld senses even then that the rapidly-emerging modern consumer culture is a bringer of peril, as well as progress. Increasing individual mobility and the emergence of today’s mass media rob the city of its physical coherence, replacing it by a chaotic deluge of impressions. Using perceptive psychology Wijdeveld investigates experiences of the city and formulates suggestions for the design of the new world, where theories of seeing and being seen, drawn from the world of theatre, prove a valuable starting point.
In the idea of the Cityless City, Wijdeveld sees the potential to create an ideal metropolis. Seeking a more organic integration of city and nature, the architect aims to establish order from the perspective of the landscape, rather than from the standpoint of the urban environment. Buildings must be liberated from streets and squares and should create constantly changing situations, in harmony with the landscape. Existing cities must be sealed off by a ring of towers beyond which the landscape will be criss-crossed by a network of highways and boulevards. As dramatic accents in the landscape, the sole purpose of the towers is to act as a monument. Within this master plan, Wijdeveld mobilises his experience as a theatre designer to design the natural world, and aims to evoke collective experiences to glue the fragments of society back together, and create a community