Top 10 comic book cities: #7 Urbicand
From Radiant City to Mega City One, the Architects’ Journal presents a selection of the greatest illustrated urban spaces
As comic book critic Paul Gravett writes, the Belgians ‘have a nickname for the urban planners’ disease: “Bruxellisation”.’ One Belgian comic book author has explored this phenomena in his 1990 bande dessine Fever in Urbicand.
Schuiten was born into a family of architects in Brussels and trained as one himself before switching to comics. Fever in Urbicand’s allegorical yarn is heavy handed but the art is beautiful and, well, the lead character is an architect. Urbicand is split north-south by a river. Its north bank has been ‘regularised’ by city architect Eugene Robick but the south bank remains scattered, dilapidated, unfinished.
As the story unfolds we find Robick in his office overlooking the city as he inspects an artefact, a metal lattice cube, unearthed in a recent dig during construction works. Gradually, and then with pace, the cube grows, replicating and expanding into a massive three-dimensional structural field which links both halves of the city…
Fever in Urbicand is one story in the City of the Fantastic series.