Hello. Who in the room knows what “a city ex nihilo” is? Yes, Michael? Ouiiii bravo, Michel, toutafé! It means well “a city built from scratch, without having anything as a starting point”. Now, who can give me examples? Ah, there you go… There’s no one left, huh! Luckily we’re here for you, phew.
1. Brasília, Brazil
Founding date : 1956.
Story : Barely elected, Juscelino Kubitschek (the new president in place) decides to build a new capital in the center of his country, to promote its development. He chooses an area almost devoid of life, a small agricultural space near a lake. A call for projects is launched, and out of the 5,000 proposals, the architects Lúcio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer and Roberto Burle Marx are chosen to build this city, which, seen from the sky, takes the shape of an airplane. Today, the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has 3 million inhabitants. Nice perf.
Founding date : 1791.
Story : the construction project of the federal capital of the United States is written in the Residence Act of 1790. A few months later, in January 1791, the work is launched, following the plans of Pierre Charles L’Enfant (a Franco-American , as its name subtly implies). The city is named “Washington” in honor of George Washington, the country’s first president.
3. Abuja, Nigeria
Founding date : 1991.
Story : With Lagos being overcrowded, Abuja was chosen as neutral ground to replace the metropolis. A project that has not really taken since twenty years later, it has only 10% of the population of Lagos. Oupsie.
4. Canberra, Australia
Founding date : 1913.
Story : Quite a funny little anecdote: Canberra was created so that Sydney and Melbourne would shut up. Literally. The two cities on the east coast were vying for the role of capital. Since they failed to agree, bah… Australia built Canberra to make it a capital. A bit of a twist in history, Australians have long dubbed it “a graveyard without light” and “six suburbs in search of a city”. IT SMELLS THE SEEEEUM.
5. Naypyidaw, Burma
Founding date : 2002.
Story : a not trivial story since this city was built in soum soum, with the aim of becoming… The new Burmese capital. On November 11, 2005, 1,100 military trucks moved a whole heap of equipment and civil servants from Rangoon, the former capital, to its replacement. While the inhabitants knew nothing, a military junta would have erected this flashy city, based on large hotels, oversized ministries, shopping centers worthy of Dubai and immense gulfs. Vibe.
6. Magnitogorsk, Russia
Founding date : 1929.
Story : this not very famous city (it must be admitted) was one of the projects of Stalin, who was not afraid of pomp and monumental things. In its five-year plan: the construction of the largest steel production complex in the world in the southern Urals. And since we have to house the thousands of workers, hop, we build a small town, normoul. This is Magnitogorsk. Today, it is the second largest Russian city with no administrative function. Its metallurgical Combinat still employs a third of the population.
7. La Grande Motte, France
Founding date : 1965.
Story : in 1963, the Prime Minister, Georges Pompidou, wanted to develop tourism in Languedoc-Roussillon. He then launched the “Racine mission” and several seaside resorts were created. This is the case of Cap d’Agde, Port Leucate, Port-Camargue and La Grande-Motte. There, you now know how one of the ugliest places in France was born, hihi.
8. Charleville-Mezieres, France
Founding date : 1606.
Story : yes, building cities from scratch is not a purely contemporary ambition! In modern times, already, some rather ambitious little guys already decided to do this kind of thing. This time, it was Charles de Gonzague, Duke of Nevers de Rethel, who undertook the construction of a town which he humbly named “Charleville”. Located along the Meuse, on the lands of the Holy Roman Empire, the new city offers very attractive tax conditions. In 1966, it merged with its neighbor, Mézières. We’ve been talking about Charleville-Mézières ever since.
9. Karlsruhe, Germany
Founding date : 1715.
Story : legend has it that the history of this town begins with a guy who sleeps in the middle of a hunting trip. Charles-Guillaume, Margrave of Baden-Durlach, then dreamed of a city built in the sun around his own castle. Hardly narcissistic. Since you have to make your life a dream and your dream a reality, bah…Go in factch. The guy has built his quiet little town. A city established around 32 axes, without walls, to welcome free spirits. I don’t know what he was smoking, but it looked nice. Thank goodness he didn’t dream of building an exact replica of Cholet. We were lucky again.
10. Sun city, USA (Arizona)
Founding date : 1960.
Story : a city a little more closed-minded than the previous one: in Sun City, only little old people. Finally… Only people over 55 years old. It is exactly with this in mind that real estate developer Del Webb wanted to build this city: to offer housing and services specifically designed for retirees. Obviously, and for obvious reasons, there are several hospitals and churches there, if you see where I’m coming from. The average age currently exceeds 72 years. YouhooUUuuuUUUU.