In the sort of urban future envisioned by Buckminster Fuller and others, urban traffic congestion would be conquered by personal flying cars, which could use all that empty vertical space to avoid gridlock. There’s something of that spirit found in contemporary Brazil. Sao Paolo, which has legendary traffic, also has some of the highest helicopter traffic rates in the world, as Tom Phillips reports in this Guardian podcast. Wealthy Paulistas, it seems, eschew the city’s cluttered roads, whisking from helipad to helipad, turning two hour slogs into 17-minute jaunts.
I couldn’t help notice one strange detail, lurking in the captions accompanying the wonderful photographs by Eduardo Martino. One of the frequent destinations of helicopters, it seems, is a place called “Alphaville.” It’s a luxury exurb, begun in the 1970s, that seems something of a piece with J.G. Ballard’s Super-Cannes. I know that real estate naming schemes are often risibly pompous or woefully inaccurate, but there’s something astoundingly perverse in naming a city that shares its namesake with the dystopian metropolis of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 film, a place where emotion is banned and absolute conformity assured. Then again, the motto of Alphaville in the film is “Silence – Logic -Safety – Prudence,” (these are not necessarily overabundant qualities in Sao Paolo) so maybe the developers were sticking closer to Godard’s vision than we know. I’m just not so sure about that “silence” bit with all the helicopter traffic.
This entry was posted on Monday, June 23rd, 2008 at 9:20 am and is filed under Cities, Congestion, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.