buildings are replacement Cities by Jane
Jacob's [link] definition [rbtfBook].
impose a small footprint upon the landscape and allow
population density and open, natural, evolving
idea of this 1974 concept is to minimize the impact
on the landscape while creating for the inhabitants
a circumstance that allowed them to live IN Nature.
All you have to do is go down the vertical transportation
and step outside. On the raised platform, there are
gardens, parks and recreation facilities. These are
commingled and can be on more than on level. Below
this human focused landscape is parking, mass transportation
access and infrastructure. Beyond this raised
platform is “natural” landscape. Most likely, this
will be in rings ranging from more “domestic” and
progressing to pure “wilderness.” There will also
be numerous parks and landscape areas in the upper
the superstructure. In fact it will be encrusted
with living matter. It is critical not to interpret
these sketches, and the mega-city concept, as one
would “read” a drawing of a building as
we know know it. These forms are massive - they are
VOLUMES - and are to
be understood to be superstructures with
that creates a series of external facing and internal
facing multistory spaces that can be “developed”
as a city
word normally grow
over time. The superstructure is just human-made
cities can be built in ecologically sensitive areas
- which are often the most beautiful and subsequently
ruined by improper development and over use. The
concrete base connecting these three structures
were conceived to balance each other by turning static
loads and dynamic wind loads into tension (counteracted
by post tensioning) by the parabola forms that connected
them. In the “cup” created in the center
of these structures, organized human activity would
Parking is below. On the outside of these parabola
forms, landscaping is introduced. Other than this,
the beach with its natural, shifting beach-building
processes is left in a natural state. Access is kept
to a level that the beach can self-repair and sustain.
way a substantial population can enjoy the amenity
while not destroying it. Projects like these can
be spaced some distance apart while matching the
population density of the “peanut butter spread” strategy
of traditional beach development which is destructive
to the host environment and vulnerable
to destruction by common weather occurrences which
are misnamed as “tragedies” with equally misidentified
“victims.” Of course, this requires an entirely
new approach to
and zoning [link].
like these can be manufactured and built to withstand
flooding and hurricane force winds. It is always
interesting to me that my car can drive through rain
that would destroy my conventional built house and
that we routinely fly airplanes through storms that
routinely destroy cities. One wonders that sometime
someone might start wondering about this.
cities can be built of super modules. The helix form
shown here is composed of three modules, linked together
into super-modules with an assembly rule that
can be applied in a right hand or left hand mode.
This offers a beautiful “dna” helix form creating
a high variety of exterior exposures to view, wind,
sun and multiple different “interior atrium” volumes.
horizontal and vertical intersections create
a great number of different kinds of
spaces. Complexity generated from simplicity. This
kind of structure can be built of prefabricated units
of several scales of recursion - “super bricks” for
fast site assembly.
cannot be shown with drawings and models of this
scale is the landscaping and zoning algorithms. The
model that people hold in their head is that of the
massive monolithic concrete apartment building with
long halls of artificial light. This is a poor model.
Think of the super-structure as Armature [link] and
Infrastructure [link] and
think of this - as a whole [link] -
as a human built mountains where humans, animals
and plants can live on and
The open space default rule will be much like was
employed in the Boulder Affordable
housing design [link].
the links provided above do not give literal examples;
you have to generalize from them and be aware that
the same ideas are being illustrated at different
recursion levels and in different contexts.
Soleri’s Arcologies [link] illustrate
brilliantly. The design of his that I most want to
see executed is Hexahedron, an Arcology for 100,000.
It is one of his earliest designs and one that is
to Thesis Criticism
MegaCity - 1976
megacity is designed to be built in extreemly remote
areas. It is accessible only by walking of my mono-rail.
the scale can be appreciated when you realize that
the “stalagmite” structures hanging down
from the bowl-like form are, themselves, 20 to 30
It is also important to realize that you will never
see the structure as it is drawn. Its entire skin
is a metabolic strategy that changes from reflecting
to translucent to transparent to open based on a
complex “breathing” strategy that is “controlled”
by both users and an algorithm for optimum heating
cities themselves can have a focus and draw an affinity
population to them around a variety of principles:
scientific, political, religious, economic, recreational,
lifestyle, goods production, experiences and
so on. This is how cities in the past were developed.
Today, they just seem to grow with no rhyme or reason
- most modern cities lack focus, they have no theme.
They are simply the consequence of population expansion
and economic exploitation with some planning and
better development thrown in now and then.
This is not how the great cities of the past were
created. With the exception
of a few core city areas, the US citizen has to
go to Europe to discover what a city really can be.
impacts on the Earth must be minimized at the building
site, as well as, to the larger landscape that surrounds
the development. The amount of open natural landscape
in relationship to the scale and scope of the building
- and the impact of its use - must be scaled as
is appropriate, by the capability of the landscape
to sustain itself and the project.
first started thinking about the issue of urban sprawl
and land coverage by Human construction (if it can
be called that) in 1956 with my San Francisco Apartment
Building project [link]. At that time, I was
concerned how the Bay Area had been developed since
experienced it 10 years before. What has happened
since the mid 50s, I will not comment on here.
Mega City was conceived as a health retreat
center of those displaced by rapid change or disasters
- or simply for those who want to recuperate and retool. The practitioners of
these services - from health to learning - would
live in the City as residents. Guests would come
and pay a daily rate to live there for some period
of time with some surcharges for specific professional
help. The population ratios would be about one third
providing general living support services, one third
specialize health and learning services and one third
guests. These numbers work out quite well. The typical
capital represented by a successful professional’s
home, office and infrastructure contribution in a
typical city multiplied by the number of working
professional in this health center will capitalize
Cities are capital intensive; they are best built
This is true for mega-cities, however, they can be
less capital intensive per capita given
that an artifact of this sort can be far more economical
and efficient than traditional development strategies.
It is important that they still be “built” as
a traditional city is built: evolving over time.
is that the Armature-Infrastructure-Structure is
designed to accommodate this growth and evolution
and that a predetermined density is known from the
beginning. This “density” equation pertains
to the ratio of city to open landscape, to the various
within the mega-structure, to public space and individual
spaces and the layout of individual working and living
units. Far more density per acre yet far more individual
space and amenity can be achieved in the mega-city
than with traditional schemas. This is the consequence
of employing VOLUMN. All the Pattern Language
values that Alexander [rdtfBook] has
identified can be achieved in the mega-city - it
is a matter of design and following the principles
of The Timeless Way of Building.
of the economic principles that can be designed-in
on the Domicile [link] scale
work even better (to a point) with these Mega City
should be dense. This is what makes them hot fun
and productive. The fact that they are crowded, dirty
and almost impossible to get around in, most of the
time, and have obliterated the landscape (that originally
attracted) is not intrinsic to the density - it is
the result of the wrong conceptual frame and poor
design. This is the natural consequence of the process
by which we make them - and employ them - or overuse
them to be exact.
mega-city concept does not challenge nor replace
the role of the traditional city. There is still
an important place for this artifact in our history,
culture and economy. It is just that the traditional
city schema can be pushed only so far in terms of
horizontal growth. It is a scale issue. In fact,
the patterns of the Medieval city still make
some of the finest city habitats on the planet. Add
modern technology, limit the use of the car, provide
well designed mass transportation and rejuvenate
the landscape that once was there in Medieval times
(the crowding came later), and the “core” city
comes to life as we have seen with numerous examples
where this has been done in Europe. Mumford has a
point on this subject [link].
There is a reason that Frank
Lloyd Wright’s year in Italy circa 1910-11 had such
a profound impact on his work that followed (a point
often overlooked in the “scandal” of it all).
turn, Mega-Structures do not have to loose human
scale and overwhelm all sensitivity to the natural
setting - again, bad design rules the day (of our
existing sprawling, undisciplined mega-cities and
with many of the apartment buildings on steroids
masquerading as mega-city proposals). The construction
process, itself, does not have to
destroy the site. These is no sense to what we do
and it is not economical [link].
warning is in order. Any kind of city can
impose tremendous negative consequences on the landscape,
peoples, animals and , ultimately, on the planet
Today, we have no way to deal
with these consequences because our organizational
structures exist on one
level but are creating negative conditions on a “higher”
level at which no governance structure exists. A
traditional approach to “government” at
this global level would
be a disaster beyond measure. Not putting
a process in place, however, will ultimately destroy
of life on a scale that is almost incomprehensible
- and unforgivable. A better approach is required [link].
Xanadu project [link],
predates these Mega city concepts - in architectural
concept - but was not put on paper until 2000 [link].
It is on a somewhat smaller scale than the others
(Wilderness Mega City is nearly three times taller
and much greater in volume) but employs the same
kind of design strategy. The range of population
that can be appropriately served
strategies and configurations is somewhere between
1,000 and 100,000 (and even much more) in a single
structure. It should be remembered that downtown
million people in a single structure.
these concepts certain principles predominate: Small
foot print surrounded by minimally obstructed, natural landscape.
Vertical and horizontal transportation schemes that
promote fast access. A three dimensional view point
rather that the flatland architecture
of today (we do not build multi-story buildings,
we build one story building stacked on top of one
another). A wide variety of architectural space types
accomplished with a
geometry. Mass automated transportation
to the Mega city for larger structures; self-contained
parking for the smaller ones - minimal use of landscape
for transportation in either case. Maximum use of
off site prefabrication to minimize on site disruption.
Mixed use. A greatly enhanced ability to design and
manage the nuances of different kinds of human interactions
and their attendant support mechanisms.
Mega city is a scaling up of what MG Taylor has been
doing with NavCenters and knOwhere Stores and Disney
Corporation has been doing with Theme Parks: Designing,
building and operating integrated environments that
are finely tuned to support specific human processes.
Traditional cities do not allow this degree of refinement.
of what is negative about traditional cities can
be eliminated: crowding, too much resource dedicated
to transportation, the unnecessary impact of weather,
the covering of the Earth and crowding out of other
species, pollution, and a schema that allows and
encourages endless growth.
of what is wonderful about traditional cities can
be kept: neighborhoods and open spaces, organic development,
individualized building, urban interaction, population
diversity, unique character and expression on the
meta level of the city itself.
people, of course, think a Mega city is a large apartment
building scaled up. This certainly does not have
to be the case. The typical apartment building cannot
be justified as a human habitat let alone thinking
it can be scaled. A Mega structure can have orders
of magnitude more variety and actual space per individual
than traditional solutions because they make use
of three-dimensional space - they are not flat.
layout makes full use of “ribbon streets” (each
a zone) and NODE organization (each
a hub of several zones crossing, creating an
urban “hot spot” and connecting
vertically to others [link].
Armature [link] of
the Mega city is its basic structure and service
components. All the rest of the structure can be
built over time, replaced, changed, evolved individualized.
feel that Mega cities (as a concept) are inhuman
in their size. This is a non issue. Is a village
of 5,000 inhuman per se? What about a city of 20,000?
Or, 100,000? These are considered small, today. The
issues is not the size, it is scale - and design.
In fact we build Mega Cities today, they are just
The important scale issue is that of human scale.
One reason that traditional cities try to spread
out is only horizontal space is considered as space. One
reason that large buildings seem crowded is because
they are designed that way for reasons of false economy.
Imagine the cost of roads and spread out utilities
and what kinds of amenity even a fraction of this
wasted money could bring to a Mega structure if properly
employed. More individual space and access, in less
overall space, is possible in a Mega structure for
the same reason MG Taylor/AI can get more
knowledge workers in less space [link] with
more individual work space and sense of space. It
is in the configuration schema.
ideas intrinsic to the megacity concept are highly
applicable, as noted, on recursion levels smaller
and larger. DOMICILE is an example of a
multi-family scale co-housing project that employs
many of the
same design strategies and economic principles. Xanadu is
larger and far more diverse than Domicile yet
still an order of magnitude smaller that a true megacity.
Most of my megacity concepts have been on the modest
scale of the size range mostly because my focus has
been on concepts that may be build-able in the near
term (if you can call 50 years, near term); I have
Charted a series of projects from house size, EcoSphere - each an order of magnitude greater than its predecessor
- to Domicile, Crystal Cave, Xanadu,
megacities to space colonies. The idea being that
in structure, mechanics, fabrication processes, building,
financing; and, social structures, governance and
economics learned on one recursion level will promote
for the next. This is the notion of systematic R&D
and prototyping to accomplish an otherwise too complex
future goal. Megacities cannot be done from nothing
to mature state all at once, yet, they do not evolve
out of the traditional city. A strategy is
required if you are serious about doing it.
time, we will be “forced” [link] to
do mega-cities. The questions are: will be be ready?
Will we do it
or poorly? Will the mega-city of the future be the
already over extended traditional city [link]?
This is the result we will have if we approach this
issue by “not thinking about it.”
|A city of 100 thousand is proposed for Siberia, designed by Russian architects Ab Elise, to be build 1,804 below ground in an abandoned mine with a glass roof. A good use - assuming health issues can be dealt with - of a consequence of the industrial era. A good response to the Siberian climate.
|Good Magazine reports: “ ...if it's actually built, it could serve as an object lesson in designing cities for the future's potentially volatile climate.”
|I find this project encouraging. The design looks to be conceived well, it deals with a scar in the ground and makes a great deal of ecological sense. The primary design issue that there may be risk of ignoring is that of the cultural and governance aspects. the time has come for mega cities however the issues of ecology that Soleri raised long ago and the the social-economic issues that I raised in the 70s have not been addressed by a progression of “doubling” projects as I have proposed starting with Domicile scale projects.
click on graphis and logo for more information
Domicile One is a co-housing project designed to increase the standard of living of it’s occupants while radically cutting costs and ecological footprint. It is also a step in a series of “self-contained” environments with, if doubled each iteration, can provide real world experience with the many technical, biological and human systems necessary to the successful making of a mega-city.
The question is not if we can make designs like what is profiled here work well. Not doubt we can. The question is if we have the time to take the time to do it.
|Robert Heinlein said “that when it is time to railroad, people will build railroads.” This is true and is certainly time to mega-city. The caution is that large scale projects, designed as a single piece and build all at once tend to fail. Cities that evolve increment by increment over a long period of time tend to be more human and full of amenity. They also tend to ultimately paint themselves into a corner. What we are dealing with here is the delicate balance between intent and spontaneity; between design and emergence. Learning how to do this well is one of the greatest challenges before Humanity at this moment of global transformation.
|Space Colonies - the L5 Inteview
One - CoHousing Alternative
One Design Development
Affordable Housing Project
Projects 1952 - 2004
February 21, 1999
voice of this document:
VISION STRATEGY SCHEMATIC
February 21, 1999
December 11, 2004
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this document is about 60% finished)
1974, 1976, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2010, 2011, 1012 Matt Taylor
Statement and Policy