Twelve Thousand Seven Hundred Forty-Two KM of Continuum

Farnoosh Farmer

Adolfo Natalini (1941–2020), Sketchbook 11, 1969. Pen, ink and coloured crayons, 175 × 250 × 10 mm. DMC 2084.18.

There is a handwritten phrase in red ink at the bottom of this sketch, which reads in Italian: ‘for the continuous monument (genesis)’. This drawing is from one of Adolfo Natalini’s sketchbooks and depicts a series of studies about the earth.

In the same sketchbook, he drew multiple sequences of The Continuous Monument, Superstudio’s critical response to the untruthful and flawed side of mainstream theories. The project is a continuous strip of urbanisation, including generic megastructures, grids, bridges, and pathways with no end, that form a belt around the globe.

The four diagrams at the top of the drawing depict the earth as the subject of study, showing the project’s strategic scale. Below, a larger sketch shows a transcontinental megastructure that encircles the earth, displaying the co-existence and interaction of the natural and human-made environment. The dashed lines in the second diagram might represent the direction of the megastructure. The orbicular dotted lines in the sketch resemble gigantic clouds that could have a remote association with the atmospheric circulation. Obscurely, the drawing reads like a blueprint for the synergic nature of megastructures with the ecosystem, oceans, land, and the corresponding climatic repercussions.

Natalini wrote on the cover of his sketchbook: ‘[at] times you imagine you are thinking when you are not, and this often happens when you are not drawing.’ He had thought of the globe as a designable space and articulated that through quick drawings and sketches. We can read this sketch as a study on the geographic and environmental impact of Superstudio’s megastructures.

Farnoosh Farmer is a Los Angeles-based architectural and urban designer.