An exploration of the city of Irene depicted in Italo Calvino’s seminal book Invisible Cities:

“Irene is a name for a city in the distance, and if you approach it, it changes.”

Our city of Irene stems from exploring proximity and juxtaposition. How feelings and ideas about a place can often be formed by conjecture, from incomplete information.

We used the text as a tool to explore these themes in one of our current projects. The project is sited at the bottom of a steep quarry, over the “edge of the plateau” and enclosed by its walls. Here the man-altered landscape forms an opening, where we imagine a cluster of buildings that form a seemingly small but alluring city “spread out in the distance below”. The carved out form of the quarry either appears as a glitch in the distance, or within it, imposingly close. We observed it by sending a camera high above it, and by standing at its bottom.

The model examines a moment in this proposed ‘city’ that draws many parallels with Irene. It uses colour, texture and materials to articulate proximity and contrast. On one side an opening allows a glimpse of the quarry face, offering an idea of the atmosphere within, on another it opens up, and the rock face becomes the fourth wall of each room.

Isn’t every model a version of Irene, allowing us to wonder “if it would be pleasant or unpleasant to be in Irene that evening”.



Irene, Invisible Cities
Status: Research Project
Date: 2018


Next Project
Cannon Place, 2019