The visions for NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s linear megacity in the desert, reveal contemporary shortcomings more than a future utopia

The glittering images of the envisioned Saudi city NEOM, shared publicly in late July, quickly circulated around various social media platforms. Many commented on the formal and visual similarity the megalomanic vision has to an array of linear-city precedents in the history of architecture, from Michael Graves and Peter Eisenman’s proposal for a linear New Jersey in 1965; to Rem Koolhaas’s infamous graduation thesis, “Exodus, or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture” from 1972; or, most obviously, to Superstudio’s late 1960s critique in the form of the Continuous Monument. The slew of images and videos giving architectural form to Mohammed Bin-Salman’s latest lunacy do more than evoke an

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