The Phantom City

  • Humans are curious, and they love their curiosity being triggered. In regard to this, the New York-based Museum of the Phantom City does a very good job by using personal digital devices to transform the city into a living museum.

    Architects Irene Cheng and Brett Snyder are the initiators of this project, which is sponsored by the Van Alen Institute. Aim of the museum is to let people “tour the city that never was” with a special iPhone app. The Phantom City allows users to digitally discover never-realized visionary architecture and urban designs for New York City, showcased at the physical spots where these projects should have been realized. This ubiquitous museum has collected dreamy thoughts and big ideas by all kinds of thinkers and designers that represented their future for the Big Apple.

    “Users can view images and descriptions of speculative projects ranging from Buckminster Fuller’s dome over midtown Manhattan, to Antonio Gaudi’s unbuilt cathedral, to Archigram’s pop-futurist ‘Walking City’, all while standing on the projects’ intended sites.”

    Museum of the Phantom City, New York

    Museum of the Phantom CityMuseum of the Phantom City

    In fact, the Phantom City shows what New York could have looked like – it shows an alternate future. What sets this project apart from other decentralized open air museums, is its focus on the imaginary. Besides that, museum’s collection isn’t tangible, but rather consists of a locative data flow which can be accessed with the interactive application. I tried browsing with the app, but as I was in Amsterdam and not in Manhattan, I was too far away to get access to the museum. And that makes the Phantom City even more adorable.

    Click here to read a New York Times article about the Museum of the Phantom City.