elana: (Default)
 I was helping J-M with his Jane Jacobs paper and it came up: what kind of city would I build?

Imagine a city where all of its urban resource types — schools, libraries, hospitals, civic buildings, arts buildings, markets, residence zones — were situated in a lattice pattern. So there would be a school lattice, and each school would be situated as far away from its neighbour schools as possible; there would be a hospital lattice, and each hospital would be as far away from its neighbour hospitals as possible; there would be an arts lattice, and the opera house would be as far away from the ballet and the theatre as possible and they from each other, etc. These lattices would be overlaid on each other but slightly offset, so that each grid square in the city wouldn't necessarily have exactly the same distribution of resources on it, but any given point in the city would be walking distance from any single example of the above categories. The result would be a consistently heterogeneous urban mass.

This rules out housing projects, arts compounds, enormous same-age shopping malls, and all the other stuff that Jane Jacobs thinks become urban dead zones over time.

There would be no downtown, because even huge office towers would be zoned according to their own lattice, and they would be spread equidistant from each other across the city.

The city's edges/suburbs would be defined merely as a gradual drop-off in density.

Instead of a bunch of little parks inside the city — which are really just useless, dangerous, junkie parlours — I'd have the city be right next to an enormous green space, equal in size to the city itself.

It would be big enough to house all kinds of activities so that it would be in use at all hours of the day. There could be a central area for concerts and raves at night; a lake for water sports; children's parks; zoos; and of course an actual nature preserve. A low-footprint monorail would make all points in the park accessible. A real, functional city next to a real, functional park.

Everyone would be able to walk from their homes to get to all their basic needs: groceries, civic resources, education, jobs. They would only have to leave their walkable range on special occasions, like to get to a particular type of arts event that isn't housed in their region, or to visit a specialized type of library or civic centre. Small local business and entrepreneurial ventures would flourish. Cost of living would be much much lower. The environmental impact of driving commuters would be greatly reduced.

Each little region could have a name and have a small local council to bring out its local flavour and personality, and run projects and events to foster community. This would be possible because each region would have a full complement of resources with which to work: people, buildings, businesses.

What do you think?

I think I should make some pictures or something.

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elana

December 2016

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