Alexander Weygers (1901 – 1989) developed a series of techno-artistic proposals that made him admired in his time. Among his projects are from a vehicle similar to a flying saucer, to an aerial version of the city of San Francisco. The newspapers of the time nicknamed him “the Leonardo da Vinci of the 20th century” and, although that may have been a bit exaggerated, the truth is that his designs were interesting enough not to deserve the oblivion in which he finds himself. submerged.
There is no doubt that some engineers or artists tend to excel in their area of interest thanks to the daring or advanced nature of their projects. This is – without a doubt – the case of Alexander Weygers, a versatile American painter, sculptor, philosopher, inventor, engineer, writer and publisher who was born in 1901. Weygers’ adolescence was spent in a world in which he was invented or popularized every day some kind of machine designed to change the way the world would work, and there is no doubt that this whirlwind of novelty influenced the development of his ideas. Strangely, and interesting as many of his works are, Weygers has been practically forgotten, and his great designs can only be found in a handful of museums.
Weygers was born in Indonesia, the result of the union of a Dutch couple. After earning his engineering degree, he left his home country behind and traveled to the other side of the ocean. At age 30 he settled in the United States, although he returned several times to his native Indonesia. He was one of the millions of soldiers who participated in World War II, during which he was part of various intelligence operations for the United States Army. The death of his wife caused a disaster in his life, and he practically gave up his work as an engineer to dedicate himself to art. However, his technical training permanently marked his work.
One of this engineer’s obsessions was flying vehicles. The expressions “flying saucer” or “flying saucer”, today replaced by “UFO” were – 60 or 70 years ago – used to name anything that flew and its origin was unknown. It was in this context that Alexander Weygers began to develop his designs, which harmoniously integrated the artistic with the technology.
The first of his “inventions” was a flying device, obviously in the shape of a saucer, which he even managed to patent (US patent number 2,377,835) in 1944. Seeing the drawings that accompany the text of the patent today it seems unlikely that this machine could fly, but the truth is that the design of that device triggered Weygers’ inventiveness and became the cornerstone on which he would build the rest of his work.
Indeed, this flying apparatus, which Weygers called a discopter, was the model on which he based his most ambitious artistic project: a flying city. Extrapolating the basic principles employed in his helicopter – large horizontally mounted turbines, the circular shape of the fuselage, and the blueprints intended to provide the steering system – the engineer envisioned something much larger, a fact that earned him the nickname with which it was used. some newspapers reported: “the Leonardo da Vinci of the twentieth century.” Perhaps exaggerated, but by no means inappropriate.
Weygers envisioned a future in which the entire city of San Francisco flew hundreds of feet high. Although his work is only artistic, the plans and drawings of the city have an indisputable technical “touch”.
At that time everything seemed possible, and it was believed that anything that someone could imagine would be built sooner or later. ..