Armelle Caron

What if blocks could be extracted, stripped of all but their essential form, and lined up for inspection? Would we know a place by the sum of its parts?

What if city blocks could be extracted, isolated, stripped of all but their essential form, and lined up like soldiers for inspection? Would we know Paris or Berlin by the sum of their parts?

French artist Armelle Caron has satisfied this curiosity in "Tout bien rangé," an assembly of what Caron calls "graphic anagrams" of well-known cities. The series, whose title translates roughly as "All in order," is composed of digital images of cities printed on canvas -- cities whole and cities disassembled, catalogs of parts for some Borgesian Ikea project.

Here's Paris (original city above) after Caron has gotten through with it:

In some cases, such as the orthogonal symmetry of New York (blue) or the ancient routes of Istanbul (gray), the shape of blocks does seem to be a prime root -- an uncommon key to a city's character.

Oddly enough, the winding suburban blocks of Tamarac, Florida -- at least in my view -- have an uncanny resemblance to those of Istanbul:

In others cities, like Le Havre or Berlin, the lowest common denominator of urban design, the city block, seems more similar than different -- it's how they fit together that counts.

And then there's the French city of Montpelier, whose large and unwieldy blocks could be printed out and made into a puzzle:

Check out some of Caron's other street-related projects here.

All images courtesy of Armelle Caron.

HT Per Square Mile.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    The Problem With 'Fast-Casual Architecture'

    Washington, D.C., has a huge new waterfront development that’s fun, popular, and easy on the eyes. Is anything wrong with that?

  2. Transportation

    If You Drive Less Than 10,000 Miles a Year, You Probably Shouldn't Own a Car

    Up to one-quarter of all U.S. drivers might be better off using ride-sharing services instead.

  3. Life

    Google Announces Plan to Turn Toronto Neighborhood into Living Laboratory

    The development is the company's first foray into what it has described as "rebuilding cities from the Internet up.”

  4. Maggie Gyllenhaal walks the mean streets of 1971 New York City in HBO's "The Deuce," created by David Simon.
    Life

    David Simon Does Not Miss the Sleaziness

    The creator of HBO’s “The Deuce” talks about the rebirth of Times Square, other cities he loves, and why bureaucrats can be TV heroes, too.

  5. Transportation

    How Seattle Bucked a National Trend and Got More People to Ride the Bus

    Three experts in three very different positions weigh in on their city’s ridership success.