SchoolArts Magazine

MAR 2019

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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L O O K I N G & L E A R N I N G SCHOOLARTSMAGAZINE.COM 31 E R I C W O N G V I S U A L A R T I S T A N D A R CH I T E C T L O O K I N G & L E A R N I N G Utopian Visions E ric Wong uses digital techniques to create dizzyingly complex architectural designs that go far beyond typical architectural renderings by incorporating elements of fantasy, science fiction, and illustra- tion. His designs are epic in scale and could easily serve as designs for immersive video games. Much of his work proposes bold architectural solutions for the future of the United Kingdom, where he lives and works. A Bold Proposal Wong's Cohesion project, created as his graduate school thesis, is a vision of a "truly United Kingdom," with the capital moved from London to the Isle of Man, its geo- graphical center. The design helps distribute food and resources throughout the UK in efficient, eco-friendly ways, with new housing to accommodate refugees and pop- ulations displaced by gentrification. Through his design, Wong hopes to provide a better future for the disenfran- chised and increasingly multicultural British population. The astonishingly detailed individual drawings of Cohesion document each aspect of the "ideal city." Swan Settlement, a suburban housing development prototype, is a logical grid of squares, each containing residences and green space. The utopian spirit of the composition is similar to Frank Lloyd Wright's (1867–1959) model town Broadacre City from 1935. Home Street Home (see centerspread) shows a closer view of the buildings and outdoor spaces. Wong's dizzying combination of one- and three-point perspectives simultaneously create fascinating views reminiscent of prints by M.C. Escher (1898–1972). The desire for improved urban planning increased in the 1900s, when Western cities exploded in size and complex- ity with little planning. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Envi- ronmental Movement prompted the desire for buildings that have a minimal impact on the environment. Schemes for utopian cities (in which everything is "perfect" for every citizen) have existed since the ancient world. The idea became especially attractive to Westerners during the mid-1800s, when rapid industrialization and urbanization threatened the quality of life for vast numbers of people. Wong's Cohesion can be compared and contrasted with Hieronymus Bosch's (1450–1516) altarpiece painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, Le Corbusier's (1887–1965) 1924 cold, steel-and-cement Radiant City (Ville Radieuse), and Congolese artist/planner Bodys Isek Kingelez's (1948– 2015) installation, Ville Fantôme (1996). About the Artist Eric Wong studied art and architecture at the Byam Shaw School of Art, Central Saint Martins. He completed his undergraduate degree at Cardiff University and earned a master's degree from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. He later graduated from Cambridge University as a Part 3 qualified architect. Eric Wong presenting his Cohesion thesis at the Bartlett School of Architecture to guest critics Wolf Prix, Colin Fournier, Joseph Mias, Yael Reisner, and Catherine Slessor.

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