Alex, the Trypophobiac (Dystopian city)


AUTHOR: José Arturo Joglar-Cadilla
PLACE: Detroit, USA
YEAR: 2017
STATUS: Unbuilt
INSTAGRAM: @martes_rosado


How can we imagine a dystopian city in which architecture become a tool of awareness by disrupting standardization of the built environment by using a science fiction narrative?

Conventional architecture has made people unappreciative of how architecture can shape space, like how technology has made us numb to our own being-in-the-world, as Martin Heidegger would say.  Architecture in general exists to make peoples’ lives as comfortable as possible and, therefore, inhabitants of the built environment no longer pay notice to the architecture that surrounds them.  Unconsciously, people have been conditioned to live within a routine.  People are inured to allotting their time organized to specific activities instead of having the ability to act by reacting to their needs.

Humanity has gotten to a point in evolution where we have built everything for our comfort, and it has gotten slowly out of hand.  While technology has improved our lives tremendously during the last century, we have grown lazier and weaker.  This project intends to propose a type of high intensity architecture that has the possibility of provoking a sensation that could make people more sensitive to architectural possibilities. As Aldous Huxley once said, “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what man does with what happens to him.” 

One of the most effective ways of freeing ourselves of conventional limits is by creating or imagining alternative realities in which existing conditions are intensified, a dystopian city. Which led me to creating my own science fiction narrative in which the architecture is the main character and we perceive this alternative world through its point of view. The narrative suggests a reversal of the roles where technology (artificial intelligence) takes over the design and construction of a futuristic city while humans become a product of it. Thus, the city is built on top of the existing city of Detroit and is built based on the technology’s needs.  The narrative begins to suggest parallels with existing conditions that set in motion inquiries into the readers and free ourselves from the conventional limits within architecture. In some ways it deconstructs the rule of the architect and that being an architect is a waste.

The graphic choices relied heavily on the role that science fiction plays in society, primarily new wave science fiction during 60’s and 70’s.  The graphics are based on a world that is based on the existing reality where some conditions are intensified. As a result, it was inevitable to be influenced by many architects who had created similar graphic decisions in the past, such as Superstudio, Yona Friedman, Lebbeus Woods, Archigram, and Archizoom.

I decided to take images of existing conditions and superimpose a collage-like reality based on the narrative.  This encouraged an infinite number of realities within the existing one in one drawing and it was important to distinguish reality with what was fantasy.  Reality is often pictured in the background and in black and white.  Fantasy is seen in color and the proposed architecture in itself has to be seen through 3D glasses, so that the viewer goes through a different type of lense or layer in order to view this alternative reality.


José Arturo is an architectural designer based in Detroit, MI.  José was born and raised in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.  He attended the University of Detroit Mercy, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Science and Architecture degree and later with a Master’s of Architecture degree.  His graduate thesis project questioned the integrity of architecture by using science fiction as a tool to examine and explore disruptions in economics, politics, and human nature within architecture.  José currently works at VolumeOne Design Studio as an architectural designer, where he has been a part of the development of the city of Detroit, after it’s half-century decline.  José continues to question and explore the integrity of architecture through his practice and everyday life.



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