Architects are inveterate dreamers. They think up buildings all the time and, given the chance, are quite capable of producing master plans of entire cities, complete with fanciful designs for the towers and tenement houses, whirling roadways and flyovers that would populate them. But rarely do they do this in pen and ink, let alone with the virtuosity that artist Mark Lascelles Thornton possesses. Thornton is currently underway on a massive drafting endeavor: a fully-realized skyscraper city that spans an 8 foot by 5 foot spread. “The Happiness Machine,” as he is calling the project, collects the world’s most iconic superstructures and lines them up along a monumental axis that forms the spine of the imaginary metropolis.
Thornton’s impossible skyline borrows towering landmarks new and old from eight major cities, including New York, Chicago, London, Shanghai, and Taipei. The Willis Tower (aka the Sears Tower) and Taipei 101 bookend the piece, while its center is occupied by the likes of One World Trade Center, the Gherkin, and the Shard. A visual barrage of angled construction cranes, spiraling ramps, bobbing water towers, and an insufficient number of housing blocs populate the foreground, filling out any gaps in between the skyscrapers. The effect is both thrilling and disheartening, with urban disjunction taken to perverse extremes. See many more of Thornton’s drawings over at his Tumblr.