Designing the Ultimate City

by Ben

The last forty-eight hours I’ve been balls-deep in Photoshop, mapping out what the Ideal City would look like from an unsophisticated aerial perspective. And before you query my mental resolve, I’ll point out that this was one in a handful of final projects in my campus collegiate life. Were the other members of my group slightly more conducive to creativity, I would have dominated this project even more than I already did. The theoretical concept of a pirate-themed “Aaarrr City” would have been far superior to boring Cielo Isola, but all the same I tried to make it as sexy as possible. Then again, one can only do so much before the words “fuck,” “this,” and “shit” are too overpowering.

The primary aspect, as can be seen in the above pictorial, is to design a city center from which the rest of the town radiates. Having an oblong island of roughly ten kilometres by three, it became an immediate challenge to have a loose radial pattern with such an obtuse shape. This was solved by adopting an asymmetrical diamond loose grid; this provides an overlay by which the city can be organised while breaking up line of sight significantly (variety is, after all, the spice of life). As a crowning aspect, a monument dominates a Manhattan-like central green space surrounded by townhomes and a rectangular road -this allows the park to remain vehicle-free and relatively devoid of auditory overstimulation.

The diamond-shaped city center provides a focal point

Abundant green space is also a vital aspect when designing a city from the ground-up. There must be sufficient green space in various allotments across the landscape (as opposed to zoned parks or a “park area”), which not only accomplishes skyline diversification but provides public forums through common property. In addition to a buttload of parks mingled around the city, there is a dedicated zoo and “major” park island to the southeast of the primary land mass. Such an island would allow for entertainment (flesh-eating lions, poo-flinging monkeys, bestriped zebras, et cetera et cetera) while simultaneously providing an open-air experience and location for friendly public interaction (sorry, no outdoor orgies here).

A dedicated area for dangerous animals minimises infant fatality rates

Mixed-use buildings are a crucial component to such a neo-city; here, there is no separation of commercial, residential, and entertainment spaces. While of course there are natural exceptions -such as government buildings, police and fire stations, utilities, museums, and so on- the bulk of structures in this ideal city are composites of various life necessities. Southeast and northwest of the main city center lie the sole suburban-type individual housing communes (it is only natural for some residents to favour more space over functionality). After wrestling with the absolutely-absurd 3D perspective tools in CS4, I created the following demonstration in approximately 45 seconds:

Notice the rooftop garden (and it's 3D impression on a 2D plane: LOL)

While the various residential city functions (housing, eating, working, education, blah blah and so on) are entirely integrated, other essentials are purposefully segregated. As a self-sufficient and largely-green society (read: organic food, lack of major corporations, absolutely no strip malls, or global grocery outlets), having land for growing food nearby is obviously a necessity. In order to maintain a clean and pleasurable experience on the primary island, the farms have been relocated to the mainland along with a plethora of wind generators to provide clean and emission-free energy.

Being self-sufficient also nixes the need for cross-country food prep and storage

While the island is not overly-large or populous (approximately 150-200,000), the need for public transportation is eminent. Having been raised in a place where mass transit is nonexistent I realise the demand for efficient transportation of residents from one area to another in rapid fashion. Thus, an underground metro rail serves the entire island, as well as running underwater to connect the farms and provide simple access to the mainland. As there is no large airport of any kind, international or cross-country visitors would have to fly to a nearby city or sail to the copious port occupying the southern coast.

Lack of an airport reduces noise, pollution, and tourist activity

Everyone poops. Even more, everyone creates a great deal of waste. As a pleasurable environment, there is no place on the island for a recycling plant, additional power generators (or transformers, satellite dishes, and various other electronic or natural services), or waste and water treatment facilities. In the full-size image you will notice a road to the northeast leading nowhere. Even after waking up at 06:00 (after bedding at 03:00, for a note of referent) I was unable to complete the utility island so instead I placed a road leading to imagination. To minimize vehicular traffic, the metro rail also runs to this far-distant locale (roughly thirty kilometres from the main island).

These are but a few of the considerations put into effect when creating such an ideal city. Mixed-use buildings, abundant green space, mass transportation, and self-sufficiency were the primary bullet points, but many other aspects were taken into account which I won’t go into detail here (such as a religious district on the northeast corner of the central park which accommodates every religion in a dedicated building – Frank Lloyd Wright’s community praise building was total fuckage from the start). While the actual image isn’t close to my normal quality of Photoshop production (excepting, obviously, the purposefully-bad header images around here), the time I had dedicated to the project allowed for minimal experimentation.

Good thing I’m awesome. Full image is below for your amusement (click for full-size).