If you are anything like me, you spent an unhealthy amount of time as a child playing SimCity — there was no greater satisfaction than assuming the role of all-powerful mayor, conjuring up the ultimate pixelated metropolis and watching it expand in all its axonometric glory. Now though, you can hold those objects of municipal megalomania in the palm of your hand: Ittyblox enables you to build your own miniature cityscape, with each edifice 3D-printed in full color.
From miniaturized landmarks such as the Guggenheim Museum and London’s Westminster Hall to city-specific sets, the buildings are available from Shapeways at a minuscule scale of 1:1,000 — slightly larger than the prodigious Panorama of New York City — but are still wonderfully detailed thanks to the microscopic accuracy of digital fabrication.
Ittyblox are increasing their inventory of structures all the time: Recent additions include the Art Deco hotels of Miami, uber-modern Chicago skyscrapers, tree-studded public parks and fragments of elevated highway. The windows of each tiny building can also be illuminated with the help of some well-placed LEDs.
The most intriguing element of the Ittyblox offering is the inclusion of gridded tiles, allowing you to connect your buildings, parks and roads together in any configuration imaginable. This ability to mix and match raises the potential of fantastical hybrid cities, with fragments of global destinations coming together as an unreal urban amalgamation, akin to Foo Fighters’ latest album cover.
The modular nature of Ittyblox combined with the flexibility of 3D printing opens up future possibilities that will excite urban design enthusiasts: how about a whole city of unbuilt icons, a Metabolist metropolis, or even the reimagining of ancient empires? As long as there are people out there willing to model these structures and make them available online, it seems anything is possible.
Now, excuse me while I dust off my copy SimCity 2000 – I’ve been neglecting my mayoral duties for a while…
Yours in miniature,