Cities in Community

Version 1

The audio version is available via SoundCloud.

The video version is available via YouTube.

 

Transcript: In this media release I am going to give a general overview of what cities are like in community, and then, provide a brief description of one possible configuration of a city system. This city configuration I will describe would be a part of the global socio-economic community network of integrated city systems. Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities. And, the number of people moving to cities is increasing daily. With that fact in mind, it is important recognize that there is a direct correlation between the design of these city systems and the daily happiness, well-being, and fulfillment of everyone on this planet. Humankind will continue to make cities, and it is extremely important to design these city systems in an intelligent manner with our mutual global fulfillment in mind.

Cities in community are designed to function sustainably for our fulfillment. They are openly shaped and updated by us, based upon our evolving understandings of how we are most naturally fulfilled. To the best of our understandings and abilities, community-based cities are designed to incorporate elements from (and otherwise reflect) the natural environment of our species. These community-type cities are created in harmony with nature (and our larger habitat) to obtain the highest possible standard of living for everyone. In order to accomplish this, their designs are coherently integrated into, and formed from, our unified community information model. It is their well-thought-out and intentional social design that allows individuals therein to decide their own lifestyles and personal preferences.

The vast majority of the community’s population would live in these continuously updated, pollution free, energy efficient, and self-sustaining cities. These cities emphasize safety, simplicity of construction, and efficiency in modification. They feature clean air and water, health care, optimized nutrition, recreation and entertainment, personally customized housing, and access to a wide-variety of enriching opportunities for self-development and community contribution. All structures in these cities are designed to be relatively maintenance free, meaningfully fire proof, and virtually impervious to adverse weather and geologic conditions, while maintaining the potential for being continuously updated and customized (as demand arises). Through the application of automation technology, they are significantly self-sustaining in their operation – leaving people the freedom and space to intentionally experience the world around them. And, for those of us that don’t want to live in these cities there are stand-alone modular homes that can be easily built anywhere, even on the sea, and are mostly self-sustaining.

In a community city, buildings are no longer hidden in concrete jungles; instead, they are aesthetic pleasures unto themselves. Additionally, cities in community are immersed in lovely gardens, because that is what people need for their well-being. Instead of having “parks”, the whole city is a “park”. Enjoyable sites and activities, and growth opportunities, are built into our environment. We design our cities to meet human needs, and hence, our cities do not have the social and ecological problems that are prevalent in cities in modern society (due to their poorly thought-out designs). Our cities are simple in their design, elegant in their appearance, and efficient in their operation. When cities are hugely complex, poorly thought out, and inelegant, then they are not likely to operate well for humanity. A city that operates for our fulfillment has to be efficient; an inefficient one would have a difficult time evolving and would likely self-destruct under the weight of its own needs.

Through the use of a common information model, cities in community are quick to plan, easy to assemble and disassemble, efficient to maintain, aesthetic in appearance, and highly durable. They are designed so that they can be disassembled as easily as they were assembled. Construction techniques for this type of living system would be vastly different than those employed in modern society. Most of the elements that comprise the structures of these cities are interchangeable, interlocking, and modular. Our approach envisions, at least in part, assembling entire cities by standardizing basic structural elements, some of which are prefabricated in automated plants and assembled on site. Prefabrication, printing, extrusion, and self-erecting structures ensure an optimized construction process.

Here, we recognize that it is easier (less problematic and more efficient) to build newer cities from the ground up than to attempt to update, restore, and reconfigure old ones. While some people advocate the adaptation of existing cities to community, these efforts fall far short of our capabilities, and are not likely a feasible option (for most cities) due to their layout, and also, seriously complex issues with ownership and jurisdiction. Modifying outmoded cities does not go far enough and will simply delay (or worse, obscure) the appearance of their structural problems, and hence, their inevitable negative social and ecological consequences. Today, we can re-architect and construct cities toward our fulfillment in ways and with speeds that were unimaginable 20, 50, or 100 years ago.

Modern city systems are laid out in an organically un-organized manner and without forethought to human fulfillment or to future modifications. They often appear to be constructed (and sometimes even operated) at random – of course, their operation isn’t random, it is based upon bureaucratic and market-incentivized logic, which only makes their functioning appear random. In these cities, facilities such as hospitals, shops, schools, work spaces, and playgrounds are often not easily accessible, and getting to them can be a less than pleasant experience. Modern cities are polluted concrete jungles with very little greenery, which would otherwise facilitate human health and allow nature to co-exist with us. These cities are overwhelmed with cars, which have a variety of negative consequences, including noise, traffic jams, accidents, pollution, and simply taking up space. Most modern cities have an abundance of poverty stricken families – in fact, they have become centers of poverty. Nearly everywhere you go there is maintenance, or the necessity for maintenance. They are prone to gridlocks and breakdowns. They are dependent on (and sometimes even defined by) the constant inflow of resources, which means they can never be sustainable. Also, highly preferred cities are overburdened by a continuous influx of new residents, which drives up prices for their inhabitants and reduces the space available per inhabitant, making the living situation less pleasant for all inhabitants. Many people in these cities are so busy accumulating wealth as money, property, and power that they have lost an awareness of what it means to be a human being among a community of all beings. They have become disconnected from the source of their fulfillment, and their architectural materializations have adopted similar distortions.

When cities in modern society are engineered (or re-engineered), they are done so in a manner that is better for business[es] and political control. They are essentially the constructions of commercial and State entities, and hence, must remain acquiescent to their dictates. And, as we in community know all too well, the interests of corporations and States do not align with the interests of organisms.

These modern cities have themselves become products in the market, some of the most famous being London, Paris, New York, Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, Dubai, Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. They are products marketed aggressively in order to attract tourists, residents, new industry, and investment. It may be interesting to note that films are an important form of marketing for these cities. Which is, of course, one reason why the production of a film depicting a community-type city is important for our own marketing [of community].

In modern society, when most people think about living in proximity to one another, they think in terms of modern urban cities, their suburbs, and traditional rural environments. Many people have a difficult time imaging an integrated community-city system. Their perception of what a living environment is and could be is contained within a fixed, limited socio-economic and architectural view. And so, that is why the production of a film and a virtual reality experience of our form of city is so important in the facilitation of an understanding of what we are creating. The experience of a city in community is so different than how people have been brought up, and live in modern society, that they have a difficult time perceiving what we are proposing, and hence, must be met at their own level with media that they are attentive to and resonate with.

The Life Radius:

Continuing on with our description of cities in community, I would like to introduce the idea of a “life radius”. A city in community is essentially a demarcated architectural “life radius” within which we sustainably control environmental variables and optimize human fulfillment. The term “life radius”, itself, describes the space where we spend the vast majority of our lives (~80 - 90%). Everything we do within that life radius is considered to have an impact on everything else. When we have to drive a car that radius can be quite large. But, the ideal life radius is much smaller than city arrangements where cars are necessary. In community, we design cities at a scale based upon the human being, and not the motorcar. We look at cities and their pathways in a people-oriented way. The average human being walks two kilometers in approximately twenty minutes. What if that two kilometer walk was beautiful, attractive, safe, enjoyable, and you could meet your needs, contribute, and develop yourself, with others who are doing similarly. A bicycle extends the radius, or makes movement in the radius more efficient. But, the point is that you want most of the things you are going to do, for some large percentage of your time, to be inside that radius. Having access to what is needed within a walkable radius is strongly correlated with well-being. Think about your own life for a moment: Where are your friend’s homes, your enriched gathering and relaxation spaces, and the locations that produce and distribute your material necessities? Of those key things that compose your life radius, how many can you access by foot or bicycle, and is the experience safe, comfortable, and enjoyable.

Self-integrated systems:

In order to create a life radius that fulfills our needs, cities in community are designed in an integrated manner, and hence, they are often referred to as “integrated city systems”. An integrated city system (a.k.a. total city system) is a city in which every element operates together efficiently as a whole system. In other words, all aspects of the construction and functioning of a community-type city are well integrated. Instead of leaving city functions under the control of isolated organizations, individuals and obscured programs, cities in community integrate their control. All functional aspects of these cities, from food cultivation to sewage and energy production are processed together as one system (i.e., they are ‘integrated’). In community, we think through our ideas and integrate them coherently into our unified information model before encoding and constructing them into our environment, whereupon they are tested to ensure desired alignment. A total city system approach requires systematic design and overall planning to attain a high standard of living for all the occupants.

Now, I think it is important to address an issue here: the notion that intelligent core-systems planning, implies mass uniformity, is not accurate. Cities in community would be uniform only to the degree that they would require far less materials, save time and energy, and be flexible enough to allow for innovative changes (through modularity), while preserving the local ecology. Cities in community are planned so that they are capable of fulfilling the needs, wants and preferences of all community inhabitants. Through planning and testing we are able to produce a pleasant and desirable living space that removes urban sprawl and can effectively account for social, economic, and ecological problems. The integration of function is necessary for the optimization of our fulfillment, as well as an accountable solution-orientation to any problems that may arise.

Herein, information processing and automation systems are combined with sensors and human effort (where necessary and/or desired) to optimize the operating efficiency of the city. The use of up-to-date technological methods, including electronic feedback, digital information processing, and automation, is applied to the entire city system. The use of automation ensures that what we intend to happen, actually does happen, every time we want it to happen. Through the application of computing we are able to process trillions of bits of information per second, which is useful (though not absolutely essential) for the facilitation of complex multi-variate decisioning, and hence, the coordinated operation of these cities. Intelligent coordination keeps a city’s services operating at peak efficiency and uptime, maintaining our materially desired fulfillment, and creating an optimized economy that avoids overruns and shortages. For example, the irrigation and fertilization of a primary food cultivation belt (within one of these cities) is programmatically controlled through an automated irrigation system involving environmental sensors, integrated circuitry, and various mechanical technologies. Hence, the emergence of a service system that frees humans from unnecessary labor, makes the most efficient use of resources (water in particular), while ensuring a sustained healthy landscape. Waste management, energy generation, and other services are managed by these “smart” (i.e., “cybernetic”) methods. This integrated control is openly programmed by us, for us (as a community), and applied throughout these city systems for social and ecological concern.

Additionally, an integrated city system is also defined by the consolidation of as many functions as possible (or desired) into the least amount of material area. For example, most of the outer surfaces of buildings convert solar energy into electricity, and the surfaces are themselves fitted with automated cleansing systems.

A circular walking garden configuration:

Generally speaking, at the level of the material architecture of a human community with a sufficiently large population, and access to digital information technology, are circularly configured walking-garden cities. As we zoom out from one of these cities we see a branching network of cities, each separated by nature. Different cities in the network may display different functional configurations and architectural aesthetics, although they are all still based around a unified community information system. While many of the cities in the network would be circular, others may be linear, underground, or constructed as floating cities in the sea.

The proposed circular configuration of many of the cities in community is not a just stylized architectural conceptualization. It is the result of reasoning and evidence into providing an environment that can best serve the needs of the inhabitants and conserve resources. The circular arrangement effectively permits the most sophisticated use of available resources and construction techniques with minimum expenditure of energy. The efficiency of the circular design allows us to make available to all people the most advanced amenities that our knowledge and energy can provide.

A circular city is most practically divided via pathways into areas known as [radial] sectors and circular belts (a.k.a. “circulars” or “rings”). The radial sectors (separated by pathways) are subdivided by circular belts (also separated by pathways), which extend outward from a central point, forming a widening circular grid structure. As the circle widens, more circular belts follow until the perimeter is reached wherein the environment is allowed to return to wild nature without any form of sprawl. In other words, these circular cities are composed of a central area beyond which the geometry takes the form of radial sectors and circular segments. In most configurations, there is a differentiation of primary functioning between belts (and sometimes within segments of a belt itself). In other words, each circular belt (and/or radial segment) maintains a particular set of functions, some of which will be unique to that circular belt and will give the belt its name. Other functions are shared between belts. The core function of the recreation belt, for example, is to provide recreational services and structures. Secondarily, however, the recreational belt maintains permacultural land and aquatic spaces for the growth of food and natural beauty. Although every circular belt will have a core identifying function, all belts are multi-functional.

There are a variety of reasons why a circular city scheme is more efficient than other city layouts. Firstly, when you start at one point on a circle, and move along that point, you eventually come back to the same point. When it’s a linear city within which you are moving, you have to travel back again (i.e., backtrack) over the same area [instead of just going around). Hence, when traveling within a circular city someone could easily return to the same place from where they started without having to take the same route back, as is the case with most linear cities. Secondly, circular designs place frequently used facilities (mass transit, medical, and other common access locations) near the center. This puts most of the residential population very near (in time and space) to the city center, and ensures that travel throughout the city is relatively easy. Hence, no matter where you are in a circular city, you would be within a reasonable distance to access every facility the city has to offer. A circular shaped city ensures that no [access] point on the circle is ever further away than half the circumference of the circle itself, which is an important design consideration for emergency response. Conversely, a squared shape maintains that no point is further from another than the “Manhattan-distance” (i.e., the distance between two points, as 90° horizontal and vertical paths on a square grid; versus an acute diagonal(s) with a circular grid). Fourth, a planned circular design minimizes the length of all transportation and distribution lines (in comparison to a linear design) -- less to build, less to maintain, and hence, more efficient. Fifth, consider that a grid inside a circle would combine the advantages of best use of space with a most understandable addressing system. Of course, either a square grid or circular grid are better than a random or disorganized configuration. A circle, however, provides the most efficient form of infrastructural elements required for its outside perimeter. Only 1 shape of interlocking element is required over 2 shapes (straight and right angled) for a square. Sixth, the circular design allows for one “pie-like” sector of the city to be designed, and then replicated around the circle six to eight times (with slight adaptations for functional differentiation) to form the entire city. In the design and production of a circular city we work out 1/6th or 1/8th of the city system, and then we reproduce it around a central point. The replication of a radial sector around a central axis (returning to the original sector itself) uses fewer resources than conventional construction methods for linear cities. In market terminology, these cities are extremely cost efficient because only one radial sector needs to be designed, which can then be duplicated repeatedly and slightly versioned for the completion of an entire city. Seventh, a circular layout is easily replicated at different scales. These cities can be designed for a couple hundred people, or scaled up to population sizes of 100,000 or more. And finally, at least for this discussion, the circular arrangement is also a useful geometric design for mirroring natural symbiotic cultivation cycles. Circular symbiotic farming, for example, is often applied as part of the last circular belt of these cities.

In general, a well-designed and aesthetic circular city tends to feel more harmonious and open than its equivalent as a linear city. We do live on sphere (of sorts), and from a two dimensional perspective the planet upon which we live takes the shape of a circle. It may be further interesting to consider that our eyes, the stars in the sky, including our sun, and the moon are also all circular in shape. Even our galaxy has a circular symmetry. It may be interesting to consider that the motions of nature move in spheres and rings, and all cosmic bodies seem to move in spiraling arcs.

It is true that squares can be more easily compacted than circles, but when designing city systems for community, beyond the perimeter of the city, we allow the environment to return to wild nature. So, whereas a linear or squared city would just continue to add more “blocks” [to itself]; instead, community would allow a return to nature prior to the creation of another [circular] city. A city with square blocks can expand indefinitely by placing another block next to the prior, while a city with a single circular block cannot do so with geometric alignment. A circular city is one circular grid reducing to a central axis. Of course, if a circular city requires expansion for some reason, it is still possible to do so with geometric alignment by extending the city radially, segment by segment. In fact, this is one method by which to assemble the city in the first place. And furthermore, if circular farming was used on the outer segmented belt during the city’s phased construction, the soil base could be built up as the city was assembled (belt by belt) to its planned size. But remember, in community, we don’t want indefinite [city, economic, or otherwise] expansion on our finite planet. In general, when a city reaches carrying capacity, another city will be built, separated by nature some calculated distance away from the prior. Alternatively, some elements of the city could expand vertically to widen its carrying capacity.

Of course, it is also worth noting here that cities aren't generally built on a flat surface, even planned cities have to work around natural features in the terrain; that is, to the degree to which the site has been appropriately selected and the terrain is capable of being modified. The circular city is simply a theoretically "optimal" design, local topography and geography will, in many cases, change the design slightly.

Now that we are done with our introduction to cities in community, I shall begin to describe a possible configuration of one of these circular walking-garden cities. I will first start with a description of the center of the city and work my way outward through the different circular belts. Take note that the stylized elements of buildings and areas in these cities can be customized to the preferred and traditional cultural aesthetics of the local geographic population. For example, buildings in a community-city in China, Japan, India, Europe, the Americas, Africa, or the Middle East may have stylized design elements traditional to those locales.

The central area:

The first area of the circular city arrangement I would like to point out is the city’s center; its central access point. Here in the center of one of these circular cities you may find medical care, conference centers, exhibition and art centers, and a whole host of other spaces where social interaction occurs. This central area may also be a transportation hub if the city includes a mass rapid transportation system. Note that if medical facilities are placed in the central hub, then you are never further away from receiving medical care than if you were in the same belt in another sector of the city, which is an important consideration for an active and playful population. And of course, under other city configurations the central area may not have any buildings, but instead it may be a garden for common gathering and natural beauty.

Permacultural gardens:

Moving out from the central area, this configuration [we are imagining] has permacultural and aquacultural walking gardens and parks. These are beautiful landscapes organized for food cultivation and aesthetic relaxation. As you walk through them fresh food is available seasonally for harvest, and there is ground for playing and contemplation.

The habitat systems service sector (InterSystems Operations Sector):

The next circular belt out is mostly composed of buildings used for the completion of work relevant to the continuity of the entire city system (it is more commonly known as the InterSystems Operations Sector). These buildings house access hubs, maintenance and operations facilities, as well as research and production spaces. Here, we primarily complete work which updates and cycles services and technologies through the city. All belts are multi-functional, and so within these buildings there are also many common access spaces for a wide variety of technical- and creativity-oriented activities.

Recreational area:

As we move away from the service belt we come to the recreational area, which has courts, gyms, and all of the games and recreational activities that people require, amongst beautiful terrain and landscaping. This belt has art centers, theatres, and various spaces for practice and entertainment. There may also dining facilities here, and other amenities.

Low-density house dwelling area:

As we move outward, again, we come to the low-density dwelling and housing area where there are winding streams, ponds, waterfalls, and lovely gardens throughout, giving each dwelling a view of beauty and a feeling of being at restorative peace with the world. The residential area of the city continues the idea of coexisting harmoniously with nature. All of the houses are similar in their modern rounded design, but at the same time are very different. Their uniqueness is a reflection of the owner’s personality and desired functioning of the home. The architectural elements of all dwellings are flexible and coherently arranged to best serve individual preference. The features of all dwellings in the city are selected by the occupants themselves.

In between every home are natural barriers like bushes and trees, isolating one from another with lush landscaping. So, people who prefer to live in houses and maintain gardens may prefer to live in this area.

High-density dwelling:

The next belt we come to primarily functions for high-density dwelling. Its dwellings are for those who prefer apartments. The reason some people may want to live in an apartment is because the apartment buildings themselves have a large number of services built into the tower, providing immediate and close access for those who might want that sort of dwelling placement. People who choose to live in apartments may prefer a more socially dense dwelling arrangement. These dwellings are also above the ground, and so, they provide beautiful views of the city and the surrounding natural environment.

Secondarily, this belt maintains energy production systems, as well as lovely gardens and relaxed common gathering areas.

Water channels and controlled cultivation:

Passing out of the high-density dwelling belt on our way to the outer ring of the city we come to the primary food cultivation belt in-between two water channels. On the food cultivation belt we organically grow a wide-variety of plant and insect species, both outdoor and inside greenhouses. Here, a beautiful walking and bicycling path encircling the entire belt. The primary function of this cultivation belt is to grow sufficient food for all the inhabitants of the city.

When looking at the water channels consider for a moment the wisdom of our ancestors in their choice to developed their living systems around a water source. Here, the waterways provide water storage, harvesting, irrigation, and purification. On the water channels there are water harvesting atmospheric generators with solar distillation units. These evaporative condensation systems are one means by which the city creates clean drinking water. And, at least one channel is always available for swimming.

A natural barrier:

Just beyond the final waterway is a ring constructed as a geomorphic vegetation-barrier. It is designed to prevent ecological disruption to the inner city and purify environmental run-off from the next belt outward. The vegetation selected for this natural barrier will have a second purpose, it will be used for harvesting into food, textiles, and many other useful materials.

A circular farming system:

In this configuration the outer perimeter ring is [in part] a “circular farm”, a holistically planned grazing system also known by the names circular symbiotic cultivation, regenerative agriculture, rotational grazing, and syntropy farming. It is a biomimicry process that mirrors what occurs in nature. Here, the “farming” follows natural ecological cycles. This circular area is primarily a combination of pasture and orchard land that we move different animals through in a particular order to mimic natural cycles, which builds our soil base and provides food.

In this area there is grass between trees, and often, when left unchecked, the grass will grow up and choke out the tress (same with shrubs). Modern society generally prevents this consequence by using a lawn mower. But, nature provides an alternative. Imagine running a number of different organisms around this circular ringed area. We send cattle through the orchard and let them mow down all the grass. And, as they go the cattle fertilize the tress. They deposit their waste, and then, trample it into the ground to create fertile, carbon rich soil. A few days after the cattle, we send the goats, who eat the shrubbery that the cattle wouldn't necessarily eat. The goats also climb up and prune the bottom 6 feet of the trees. They also fertilize. Pigs are run through as left-over waste consumers. Then we send through the chickens in a mobile chicken coup. The chickens also fertilize the soil and eat all the bugs that hatch from the manure of the first two ruminants that went through. Chickens come in after the pigs have dug up big clumps of grass. They “cleaning out” the area and fertilize with their high nitrogen manure. So, at the least, we intentionally run 4 different animal species through this area, and as a result, we get multiple cultivations, we build up our soil base, and we have the opportunity to play a role in the well-being of other symbiotic species, while giving ourselves a picturesque environment to enjoy in a variety of fashions.

Among the circular farm, this ring may also be used for recreational activities such as biking, golfing, hiking and riding. Areas herein may be set aside for renewable, clean sources of energy, such as wind, solar, heat concentrating systems, geothermal, and others. There may also be large activity domes positioned around this ring if that is what the population of a particular city desires. Further, there could be lower-rise apartment type structures close to the outer edge for people who prefer apartments, but would like a more outdoorsy type of living, close to where the city returns to wild nature. And finally, this outer perimeter could be considered another natural barrier, designed to prevent ecological disruption to the inner city.

Return to nature with care:

Beyond the outer belt we allow the environment to return to nature, while still caretaking our total habitat. When a city reaches its planned size, we stop, and let everything go back to nature between this and the next city. There is no urban sprawl; mostly, we let everything return to nature between cities -- we let the environment return to its natural homeodynamic equilibrium. Out in nature we can wild food forage and re-learn the skills or our ancestors. Here, we ask ourselves, “What is it like to be just another animal in the wild?”

Transportation:

In concern to transportation, these cities generally contain two to four primary transportation gateways (i.e., entrances and exits). Few transportation gateways are needed for the city because of its efficient design. Transportation within the city and between cities is shared between autonomous transveyors, specialized electric motor vehicles, self-powered vehicles (e.g., bicycle), and mass rapid transporters (MRTs) – all in the form of emissions-free transport. The design of these cities removes the need for each individual (or family) to have a personal automobile. Of course, mostly, these cities are designed for walking. Some cities, however, are large enough to necessitate transveyors and/or an MRT system within their limits.

I would like to leave you with one final thought: With a population of over 7 billion people on the planet it is essential for us to merge our knowledge of nature with a fulfillment-orientation that can guide the things we do and the cities we create.