Perhaps no idea speaks to the epic ambition and scope of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions better than his ideal city. This invention focuses not just on a single area but combines da Vinci’s talents as an artist, architect, engineer and inventor to create an entire city.
Da Vinci’s ideal city idea came about after the plague had ravaged Milan, killing off nearly a third of the city’s population. Leonardo wanted to design a city that would be more united, with greater communications, services and sanitation to prevent the future spread of such diseases.
His ideal city integrated a series of connected canals, which would be used for commercial purposes and as a sewage system. The city would feature lower and upper areas – the lower being canals for tradesmen and travelers and the upper being roads for “gentleman”. The roads were designed to be very broad, most likely in response to Milan’s narrow streets where people were jammed together, probably contributing to the spread of the plague.
Being an artist and architect, da Vinci’s city also would be a vision to behold, with elegant buildings featuring large arches and pillars. Da Vinci said of his style of urban planning: “Only let that which is good looking be seen on the surface of the city.”
Da Vinci detailed many other great and small aspects of his city. These include special stables for horses, which the animal-loving da Vinci saw as integral to the workings of the city, and fresh air vents in buildings. However, since da Vinci’s design was so grand in scale and required an entire city to be rebuilt, his ideal city never actually came to fruition.