‘I wanted to create a transition between the cities we live in today and the places where we want to live’

June 2021

Words by Fabrizio Lenci

The idea behind this illustration was to create a transition between the cities we live in today and future cities – the places where we want to live.

Fabrizio Lenci is an illustrator and animator based in São Paulo. He's inspired by colours, urban shapes, immigration and diversity


We know that the pandemic is really changing our relationship to urban areas. The main challenge is to understand how we can be safer in them. Social isolation is really hard in dense cities, like São Paulo where I was born and raised. But thankfully we have now the tools, technology and a lot of good professionals who can help us create these amazing places we want — and I’m not talking about erasing cities and starting from scratch.

My view is that engineers, architects and urban planners can provide the answers for how we can improve our quality of life. Maybe creating a park with more open spaces to enjoy leisure time, saving a river — and especially thinking about how housing should be in a post-pandemic world. During the crisis one thing has become crystal clear for me: we need to solve the housing problem. The first step to having dignity is to have a roof to sleep under, which is a basic right like food or water. The virus has spread a lot here in Brazil, and one of the causes was the super-dense neighborhoods. So my hope for the coming years is that we build enough, good housing for everybody. To live in a safe and comfortable home is the key to creating a better society and a better city. After more than a year living indoors, we know how important it is!

The illustration is a transition from a front view to an overview. The idea is to use the front view to show the density of the city today, with a lot of buildings, signs and almost no greenery. Through the perspective, it turns into an overview and we start to see more smart ideas like better, more integrated buildings, tram lines, more open spaces – until we have a full overview of the city where everything is planned, organised, green, clean and breathable. A lot of the references here comes from modernist thinking, like Bauhaus, Corbusier, Gordon Bunshaft and others.

It was super-fun to work on this cover — I have a degree in architecture and urban planning, so it’s a subject that I love!

How the idea developed

This graphic shows the evolution of the perspective and density of the piece. When the city is super-dense, we have a front view perspective. As the city becomes less dense and more green, we have a more overview perspective.

Here we can see how the perspective works through the piece. At the bottom, we have a fully front view. At the top, after the transition, we find a fully overview. We can see a lot of rational shapes at the top, and a dense city at the bottom of the composition.

Here we can find some images of the kind of cities I’m referencing to create this idea of transition.


Art direction

Most of my drawings are made by shapes without outlines. But for this piece I wanted to use strokes to create this beautiful scene. Outlines are very present in architectural plans, and I think it’s really important for this piece to reinforce the idea of urban planning, of a city that has a technical drawing behind it, and not just a city that grew naturally.

The idea of the palette is to bring this sense of rationality through colors. To achieve this, I worked with a classical palette made up of the main colours of the spectrum: blue, green, yellow and red. This kind of palette is often part of architectural plans, and modernist compositions, like the Bauhaus posters for example. But I also thought it would be good to desaturate the colours a bit, and add blacks and whites.

The completed outline

The final cover

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