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Strange, Beautiful and Unexpected
November 29, 2012 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Planned Cities Seen From Space posted by zinon (34 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ha, I saw the Chilean one out of context earlier and assumed it was burning man.
posted by elizardbits at 9:59 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Someone made New Haven on purpose?
posted by maryr at 10:06 AM on November 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


And then you have your planned suburban clusterfucks like columbia, md.
posted by empath at 10:07 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never understood Columbia's penchant for making roads loop in on themselves. On my old route home, I always got caught at the intersection of Columbia Gateway Dr. and... Columbia Gateway Dr.
posted by spaltavian at 10:11 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are we going to talk about subdivision clusterfucks? Because I'm always looking for an excuse to point out Lang Farms, the hangout with it's wang out.
posted by maryr at 10:28 AM on November 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


"...have to be seen from space to be appreciated."

That statement says more than it really was intended to convey. How about a space that can be appreciated from your own personal perspective, while you live in it, drive in it, walk in it, shop in it?

Because those spaces don't look cool in plan view. Look around you. How many shrubs are cut into balls and boxes? Do they need to be? Yes, from the landscape maintenance guy's perspective, they do. Only because he wants to communicate that he has done his work, for which he is to be paid. It's a metric, not a necessity, not even desirable.

Urban planners, engineers, the same thing. It has to "look designed" or they haven't earned their money. It's design as a metric of effort, not as a layout of function.

That's not entirely the case with all of them. L'Enfante's Washington was designed to be a civic space, with focus on nodes where civic thingamabobs were supposed to happen. It's underlaid by a functional grid. The design in that case is what it is, but if you look at other civic spaces, many of them are entirely focused on the center or major node - making the space much more difficult to actually live in. You don't always have to be reminded every minute of every hour of every day that the capitol is RIGHT OVER HERE, HERE IT IS, HERE HERE HERE!!!111!!!
posted by Xoebe at 10:42 AM on November 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


La Plata looks like one of those mathamatical, idealized cities built in SimCity.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:47 AM on November 29, 2012


Too bad they left out California City, which apart from a central populated area, is basically just a bunch of empty named streets out in the desert. It was planned to rival Los Angeles in size.
posted by zsazsa at 10:54 AM on November 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


New Delhi is really interesting, though I know nothing about its planning.
posted by with hidden noise at 10:55 AM on November 29, 2012


Too bad they left out California City, which apart from a central populated area, is basically just a bunch of empty named streets out in the desert. It was planned to rival Los Angeles in size.

This looks more like what happens to me in SimCity.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:01 AM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, how I WISH DC was a planned city!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:13 AM on November 29, 2012


Lang Farms, the hangout with it's wang out.

You may want to have one of those testicles looked at.
posted by goethean at 11:17 AM on November 29, 2012


Nifty! I had never heard of Palmanova before, thanks!
posted by katya.lysander at 11:24 AM on November 29, 2012


Came across this earlier today, was surprised by the omission of Dubai, though "planned" is a bit of an understatement.
posted by obscurator at 11:37 AM on November 29, 2012


Relevant: Chris Alexander's A city is not a tree (PDF)
posted by Tom-B at 12:10 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Islamabad is pretty weird, if you've ever been there in person... The grid-sector system master plan sort of broke down when it ran into reality and roads were re-routed organically.
posted by thewalrus at 12:28 PM on November 29, 2012


>California City is eerie. Shiver.
posted by hot_monster at 12:43 PM on November 29, 2012


Islamabad is pretty weird, if you've ever been there in person... The grid-sector system master plan sort of broke down when it ran into reality and roads were re-routed organically.

Toronto's initial planning was done by military surveyors, which left behind a couple of legacies: a surveyor's chain is 66 feet in length, which means that many of the major streets were laid out as being 66 feet from curb to curb (later construction has altered that in some places) while minor streets were often 33 feet from curb to curb; as well, from Queen to Bloor, from Bloor to St. Clair, St Clair to Eglinton and so on were planned as being 6600 feet to the the inch. Slight imperfections in terrain means they are not that precise, but these same imperfections were ignored by the grid system, which leads to the other legacy: there is a vast system of ravines, the small valleys that feed the Don River (or directly into Lake Ontario).

The grid paid no heed to these, and traversed them with bridges. After WWII there was a housing shortage and people began building wherever there was space, including in the previously largely-ignored ravines. Hurricane Hazel in 1954 killed 81 people and destroyed hundreds of houses, disproportionately in the ravines. The city declared the ravines off-limits to developers and they have largely become parkland again; some very prettily overgrown. It is possible to walk a surprising distance in the middle of the biggest city in Canada and see not a single building.

Still, "planning" is not the best word for it. Robert Fulford wrote a fine book called Accidental City about how some of the best characteristics of Toronto eventuated through lack of central planning.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:09 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sort of the opposite is what's happening in China. That house in the middle of the road [via MeFi's own &c.] is basically the result of an attempt to impose a massive grid system of arterial roads on a formerly organically-grown community. [Example, don't know where the house in question is though.]
posted by dhartung at 1:20 PM on November 29, 2012


Having lived in both of the Australian cities on the list, I think I'm qualified to say: if you're going to live in a planned city, make sure it was one of the ones planned before the invention of the motor car.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:08 PM on November 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


I had to go to Milton Keynes earlier this week.

It was like an image of despair rendered in concrete.
The place is so soulless that even the cows are made of concrete.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:48 PM on November 29, 2012


A very good video for anyone who is interested in city planning: Jan Gehl: Cities for People. He calls this kind of city planning "bird shit -method".
posted by hoskala at 2:59 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Having lived in both of the Australian cities on the list, I think I'm qualified to say: if you're going to live in a planned city, make sure it was one of the ones planned before the invention of the motor car.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:08 PM on November 29


How come?
posted by yoga at 3:21 PM on November 29, 2012


You can design a city for people or for cars but not for both. The things you do to make life easier for one make it harder for the other. Once you live in a place where you can simply walk to places you don't go back willingly to the alternative. Unfortunately, a lot of post-motor car urban planning favored cars.
posted by ifandonlyif at 3:34 PM on November 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Unfortunately, a lot of post-motor car urban planning favored cars.

Like Rosemeadow (AKA Rosegetto) - one of the few remaining unlamented Radburn designed housing estates.
posted by ninazer0 at 4:18 PM on November 29, 2012


These are beautiful. El Salvador looks terrifying--like a lunar colony or a dusty dystopia in a resource-exhausted future or something. Conversely, Palmanova looks like a beautiful utopia where everything is built in accordance with sacred geometry.

It's fun, what distance does to imagination.
posted by byanyothername at 4:49 PM on November 29, 2012


Jaipur looks like Toronto.
posted by pravit at 4:56 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


How come?

Canberra was designed based on the idea that cars would be the only mode of transport. It's quite spread out and there's no rail system. If you don't have a car you're beholden to our woeful bus network.

On the plus side, it's a very pleasant place to drive around. Many of the major roads are surrounded by open parkland or nature reserves.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 5:29 PM on November 29, 2012


Another designed city I'm aware of is South Hedland, up in the Pilbara of Western Australia. Its design originally was "... initially based on a quasi-Radburn concept, with four circular residential cells, including cluster housing, built around a central commercial centre, like flower petals." (source).
posted by barnacles at 6:08 PM on November 29, 2012


the duck by the oboe: "How come?

Canberra was designed based on the idea that cars would be the only mode of transport. It's quite spread out and there's no rail system. If you don't have a car you're beholden to our woeful bus network.

On the plus side, it's a very pleasant place to drive around. Many of the major roads are surrounded by open parkland or nature reserves
"

Every time I go down Northbourne avenue the central nature strip galls me. It was design and meant to accomodate trams! Curse the ACT for not putting in street cars!
posted by barnacles at 6:10 PM on November 29, 2012


No Savannah, with its 22 squares?
posted by Panjandrum at 6:14 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here I was all set to point out Salton City, with its empty grid, but California City really does blow that away. I've seen the same general pattern a few other places, so I figure it must be pretty cheap to just grade out a bunch of placeholder gravel streets in the desert.
posted by ckape at 7:15 PM on November 29, 2012


maryr: "Are we going to talk about subdivision clusterfucks?"

Previously on MetaFilter... (self-link)

Also, DC's great, except for the places where architects/planners had the hubris/ineptitude to fuck with the plan. We're still trying to fix those, and restore a functioning street grid to the city.

Superblocks are always bad, no matter how cool your building is, m'kay?

posted by schmod at 10:18 PM on November 29, 2012


Mesmerizing Visualizations Show Mass-Transit Patterns of Major Cities
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:25 AM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


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