Friday, 20 October 2017


By way of a new documentary that covers its history and the vision that was far ahead of its time, City Lab introduces us to the space-age utopia that was never realised, a modular, scalable settlement that could accommodate a quarter of a million individuals, conceived by geophysicist and oceanographer Athelstan Spilhaus in the mid-1960s and designated Minnesota Experimental City (MXC).  Aspiring to what EPCOT was originally meant to be Spilhaus’ ambitious plans anticipated the rise of working and shopping remotely and was centred around recycling, energy efficiency and generally minimising mankind’s environmental footprint.
Prohibiting internal combustion vehicles, the compound was to make use of a novel, dual-carriage mass transit network that addressed the last-mile conundrum that continues to vex public transportation and discourages people from taking the bus. MXC, however, proved too revolutionary and support began to flag once Hubert Horatio Humphrey Jr (a fellow Minnesotan and avid cheerleader for the project along with architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller) lost his bid for the US presidency to Richard Nixon and locals began picketing the proposed site. It’s sad to think that such a bold departure from toxic urbanisation seems just as unachievable today as it did all those decades ago—and even less so in some places.