EVERYDAY MAGIC

The Beauty of The ’Burbs (PHOTOS)

It may seem humdrum when you’re there on the ground. But photographer Christoph Gielen’s images of suburban areas shot from above reveal their arresting abstract beauty.

Christoph Gielen

Christoph Gielen

It's only when we fly that we see how very organized human beings are—well, in how we build our towns and cities at least. High above we see the startlingly calculated execution and evolution of city centers and suburbs. The latter is the subject of photographer Christoph Gielen's wonderful book of photographs, Ciphers (published by Jovis, in which all manner of suburban development—ribbon and rosary-shaped, with roads delicately snaking through—is photographed abstractly to produce, as Geoff Manaugh, editor of Gizmodo writes in his introduction, "optically provocative geometries." All manner of images are evoked in Gielen's pictures, from flying saucers to cell-like structures, circles, and bulbous fingers, all radiating from or pointing toward some defined center. On the strength of these fascinating pictures, Manaugh proposes a new branch of the human sciences: geometric sociology, "a study of nothing but the shapes our inhabited species make." 

 

Arizona
Sun City, Maricopa County
Developer: Del E. Webb
Construction: Late 1950s

Christoph Gielen

Arizona

Sun City, Maricopa County
Developer: Del E. Webb
Construction: Late 1950s

Christoph Gielen

Florida

Sterling Ridge II
Cavanagh Communities Corporation
Construction: 1973

Christoph Gielen

Arizona

Sun Lakes, Maricopa County
Development: Ed Robson/Robson Communities
Construction: 1970's


Christoph Gielen

Germany

Former East Sector and Peripheral Berlin VI
Nue Dreitz, Potsdam-Mittelmark, Brandenburg
Developer: VEB Wohnonungsbaukombinat Potsdam
Construction: 1986


Christoph Gielen

Nevada

Summerlin, Las Vegas, Clark County
Developer: The Hugh Howard Corporation
Construction: 1990s

Christoph Gielen

California

Interstate 5 interchange (I-5/Route 14/San Fernando Road), San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles County
Developer: State of California Business and Transportation Agency, Department of Public Works, Division of Highways
Construction: 1977


Christoph Gielen

California

Interstate 15 interchange (I-15/SR-210), San Bernardino County
Developer: State of California Business and Transportation
Construction: 2002

 

Christoph Gielen

Arizona

Venture Out RV Resort, Mesa, Maricopa County
Developer: Busby Associates Limited
Construction: 1968

Christoph Gielen

Nevada

Anthem, Henderson, Clark County
Development: Del Webb
Construction: 1995

Christoph Gielen

Christoph Gielen: Ciphers Published by Jovis
Text by Geoff Manaugh, Johan F. Hartle, Galina Tachieva, Srdjan J. Weiss, Susannah Sayler, Edward Morris.