An Invisible City

Tension reimagines the city of Octavia from Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. This piece explores the relationships of traversable volumes in three-dimensional space, capitalizing on the hanging nature of the city. Materiality influenced the placement, connections, and flow of movement between the structures.


Fall 2015

Studio: Architecture I, Dartmouth College

Instructor: Zenovia Toloudi

Skills: literature analysis/reinterpretation, storytelling, prototyping, sketching, photography

Above a limitless void hangs Tension, a city of depth and suspension. Each house droops like a fruit on the end of a branch and is joined to others by ropes, ladders, cables, and nets at all angles. Some are taut and tight and others slacked and swinging in the thin air. A three‐dimensional matrix is woven between Tension’s people.


A gradient of heights forms the city; no two buildings are on the same level. A sense of the z‐direction is intrinsic and profoundly felt. You are just as likely to find your neighbor underneath you as you are to find him in front of you. A sense of security and balance is lost once you feel the quivering ropes tugging your house off balance.


The same structures that form these necessary connections also create fatal opportunities beyond the transparent nets. Here, you are routinely reminded of the obviousness of such a powerful downward force. Gravity pulls you away from your home, not towards it. You experience the tension that is responsible for suspending the city, not as a sense of support but as the anxious strain that accompanies knowing that you will one day slip from your rope or ladder.


Tension has no elderly and experiences no overpopulation. Once you are unable to climb through the system, you are simply let go. 

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