Edited by: Enrico Mancini firstname.lastname@example.org
Architecture: Gilles Trehin
Proofreading: Bianca Baroni
Gilles Trehin is a French artist who has spent his last 20 years drawing the city of Urville.
The interesting thing is that, not only he drew it, but he actually wrote its story. Because Urville doesn’t exist at all.
It sounds like a wet dream for all architects, being the God and the father of an entire city since its first wails to his contemporary complexity and stratifications.
Probably the only architect who has lived this kind of dream in real life is Oscar Niemeyer designing Brasilia.
In the case of Trehin, everything lives only within the boundary of his special mind.
Uta Frith explains, in a foreword to Trehin’s Urville book, what makes his talent so special:
“It is an obsession with the physical world… It seems as if the spotlight of attention sweeps indiscriminately and equally intensely over the important as well as the unimportant, the interesting as well as the tedious.”
Trehin has also imagined the city’s cultural and economic history, which begins almost three thousand years ago:
“Urville was founded under the name ‘Qart-Sous-Yam’ in the twelfth century BC by the Phoenicians. It became Urbis (Urville) under the Romans in the first century BC […] In 1789, at the time of the French Revolution, Urville had 2.8 million inhabitants, but the housing was too limited to cope with the sharp increase in population resulting from the Industrial revolution. Faced with this problem, the Prefect of Urville called on the architect and town planner Oscar Laballiere (1803-1883) to undertake extensive work which continues to shape Urville to this day.”
The funny thing is that these remarkably beautiful drawings look like a naïve mix between Paris and Nice, but the scary thing is that, more widely, they look exactly like a contemporary European city. A totally generic city. A fictional city in which we can recognise the place where we live, work, or simply a place where we’ve been before. And it could perfectly be an entirely fake city.