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Thread: Where to build a new city?

  1. #1
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    Where to build a new city?

    Hi, I'm really interested in working on a new city for my thesis.

    A city that would be pragrammaticly planned from the study of several cities by their production of food, waste, Co2... their industry and transportation...

    The aim is to designed a city which would be more efficient and sustainable, not just because of new technologies but to focus on morphologies and typologies, programmatic complementarity and careful planning.

    I would like some help to find a good country/site for this project. I was thinking that if the city has for example a huge capacity for recycling it would be smart to put it in India where the garbage is already sent from all over the world but treated in a dangerous way. That way it would create a new local economy based on existing international flow.It would also create safer working conditions, jobs for the people in the slums and maybe an impact on world recycling.

    Please comment if you have a good idea of where to implement a new city (the recycling city is an example it could be something else).

    I would also appreciate very much references and books to read!

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Interesting project!

    Consider where cities have historically developed: at natural ports, break-in-bulk points (where goods are transferred from one form of transportation to another), fall lines, and convergence points (for example, someplace equidistant between various sources of raw materials and markets). With the advent of very low-cost transportation and air conditioning, classical city placement theory has been turned on its head; consider Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Canberra, and Dubai.

    With a city based on an ecological concept such as recycling, it might make sense to place it near where a city should develop, so less energy is involved in transporting the goods to be recycled.

    The greenest option could be to revitalize an economically troubled but established city with a central location and good infrastructure; maybe Charleroi, Belgium for Europe, or Youngstown, Ohio USA for North America. They're not new cities, though, so they might not work for your exercise.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  3. #3
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    Definately not in a farming region. I would say any region that is advancing in technology and with different economies is a good place to have a new city. I think the green trade will be short lasting. It will be big for a while and then die off. Just as the car and steel industry was big.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I would agree with Dan, we have lots of older cities that have good bones that should be used prior to building anything new.

    Please build your new city on the site of Detroit Michigan. The infastructure is there. We are in close proximity to farmlands as well as multimodal frieght facilities. We have an endless supply of fresh clean water, though winters can be a pain.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    Successful examples of new city (as opposed to new town) creation in the last 50 years or so have been limited. Before that, Alonzian/Cristallerian central places theories seem to be pretty much good predicters of where cities emerge/have emerged.

    First, you need a catalyst industry. Mostly, this has been government, since this can be moved anywhere as long as there's enough of a government fiat... often due to political compromise between conflicting regions, often in the context of decolonialization. Brasilia, Islamabad, Abuja, Chandigarh, Yeongi-Kongju (now under development in South Korea), Canberra, the really really weird example of Naypyidaw, etc. Our own capital, WDC, much earlier in history falls into this category. A few cities in the ex-Soviet bloc could be put into this category as well: while their purpose was not government, they were created by governmental fiat.

    Truly and organically growing a successful new city outside of central planning regimes, and in a place not a suburb of something else and driven by a (non-government) economy is much more difficult and very rare these days. Historically, it has occured due to overwhelming and non-replicable locational or natural resource advantages (perhaps from a newly exploited natural resource or technology.. like the Panama Canal and Panama City once upon a time.. or cities like Calgary and KC for rail heads, once rail took off as a new technology)... or landlocked cities desiring their own seaports to support emerging industries (Sao Paulo-Santos). Sert's model for automative cities (cities developed around mid-20th century Ford and GM manufacturing plant complexes) in Latin America comes to mind. Regulatory advantage is another possible driver (Las Vegas, as Dan cited below).

    The only successful, comtemporary technology-manfufacturing-based "new city" I can think of is Langfang, Hebei, China (about 800,000 people), but that's more of an outer outer suburb of Beijing, so it's debeatable whether it can truly be classified as a new city or just a bloated version of the more traditional tech-industrial new town phenomena (a la Milton Keynes, and so forth). Other big new Chinese communities are either satellite citiies/new towns of existing central places, well within their suburban bands, or they were simply the result of high growth rates in what was large towns before. Shenzhen is often cited as an example of a new city, but in actuality it sits well within an existing metro area (Hong Kong-Guangzhou-Zhuhai/Pearl River Delta). Dubai is often cited as an example of a new city, but there really was a port there before.. and a lot of the growth was bubblish, as opposed to fundamentals driven. MASDAR is less a new city than one of several satellite new towns of Abu Dhabi.

    Personally, I'm having a hard time imagining non-politically-based arguments for new city creation these days. Post-Panamax hull sizes for ports maybe, given the particular bathymetric and topographic requirements.... but there are few existing ports that can't be reengineered for that purpose. Punta Colonet in Baja Norte, Mexico is a case worth watching... where Mexico abetted by American port operators is trying to develop a new port city ostensibly capable of post-Panamax support outside of LA-San Pedro's urban congestion, for all the maquiladoras-related manufacturing south of San Diego. Even here though, the real motivations are debateable, and likely have as much to do with a desire (of the port operators) to build a port outside of the power of the Longshoremen unions rather than a genuine necessity driven by new technology (the hull sizes).. in other words, build a city to reduce costs by breaking the labor unions by putting them on the opposite side of an int'l border line.. the ultimate tail-wagging-dog project, to make Scott Walker proud. It's real purpose (crushing organized labor) is pretty thinly veiled.. and sometimes quite explicit in the promotional literature.

    I'm generally with DetroitPlanner - build where there is existing infrastructure and people to leverage. Where it is attempted, a real examination of the motivations is often necessary. Are you building it because it's truly needed, or because it fulfills some agenda to impose geo-political or territorial control, advance political agendas, or create opportunities for a real estate bubble? Colonet seems like an exciting project on the surface of it.. certainly, an architect's dream, but the real motivation of exploiting the presence of a border wall and differences in laws and wage scales to wipe out the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO, is morally questonable at best. The consequences are also important to consider: whose economy are you harming with your new city? If Colonet transforms Long Beach or San Pedro into ghost towns, creating mass unemployment and social crisis, because the employers there financed a new city just to dump them, who should pay that price?
    Last edited by Cismontane; 11 Apr 2011 at 12:05 PM.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    With the unthawing of the Northwest Passage and growing demand for oil from northern Canada, a major port city on Hudson Bay (northern Manitoba shore) might be a site for a future city.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Howl View post
    With the unthawing of the Northwest Passage and growing demand for oil from northern Canada, a major port city on Hudson Bay (northern Manitoba shore) might be a site for a future city.
    Well, grow Churchill, MB from its current 1.5K or so into a major 1M+ port city, complete with much upgraded transport links ('interstate'-standard motorway, etc).

    Churchill is a long-standing export port, active when the ice is out.

    Mike

  8. #8
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    Well, grow Churchill, MB from its current 1.5K or so into a major 1M+ port city, complete with much upgraded transport links ('interstate'-standard motorway, etc).

    Churchill is a long-standing export port, active when the ice is out.

    Mike
    That would be a good way to p!$$ off the polar bears even more! Churchill may have a good poty connection, but its land connections leave much to be desired.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    How 'bout right on top of Cairo, Illinois? It sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Ohio Rivers and equidistant between St. Louis, Nashville, and Memphis so it makes sense geographically. There are recreational opportunities nearby. It could be made to be mostly floodproof if built correctly. There is even a small town named "Future City" right there so it's calling to be rebuilt.

    We can rebuild it. We have the technology.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Rygor View post
    How 'bout right on top of Cairo, Illinois
    What would happen to Cairo,IL in that case? hehe.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian UrbaneSprawler's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Nebu View post
    I would also appreciate very much references and books to read!
    I'm a couple chapters into Edward Glaeser's "Triumph of the City" and his thoughts thus far I think would give you plenty of good food for thought.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    A planning effort in Arizona just wrapped up that took much of what you mentioned into account. Here is the link:

    http://www.superstition-vistas.org/
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    A planning effort in Arizona just wrapped up that took much of what you mentioned into account. Here is the link:

    http://www.superstition-vistas.org/
    Seems to be a satellite city/suburb though, of Phoenix.. not a new city as such.. also, very residential.

  14. #14
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Tornagrain in Scotland was planned as a new town in an existing region and on a surface highway and passenger rail line.
    Last edited by mendelman; 14 Apr 2011 at 12:17 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    Tornagrin in Scotland was planned as a new town in an existing region and on a surface highway and passenger rail line.
    Cool. Looks like aesthetically speaking it might even make Prince Charles happy though.

  16. #16
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cismontane View post
    Cool. Looks like aesthetically speaking it might even make Prince Charles happy though.
    Yeah, I thought it was/is a pretty successful way to design/plan a new town. The renderings with the rather twee "England Market Town" style buildings seems a bit forced, but the urban form looks good.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    urban form looks good.
    Yeah.. but where's the big box store district, with the huge parking lots, at the periphery? Where's the 1/2 acre lot mcmansions? What did they do with the Nascar track? Where's Wal Mart? Who do these Scots think they are?

    I thought this was going to be the future of Scottish planning:

    http://www.golfbusinessnews.com/wp-c...olf-Resort.jpg

    The Trump Int'l Golf Resort outside Aberdeen!

  18. #18
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    In today's day and age is there really any possibility of building a 'new' city? It seems like any city anywhere would need to tap into an existing framework of some sort, or else face the task of building brand-new long-distance forms of transport. Shenzhen, China would be the closest example I could think of, but that was a very, very special case.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    I am thinking of some of the innovative planning recently done in Rwanda by AECOM. Not new cities per se. But the concept is those countries with populations which are still growing rapidly. Much has been made of the debate regarding emergence of mega-cities, with fears that mega-cities, with their physical inefficiencies and large slums, will not serve the lower half of developing societies well. In this case, how do medium-sized cities grow; or new cities emerge; that can sustainably provide housing, economy and society for millions of newly urbanizing people within a public-private framework (i.e. not moving people by government fiat, as this usually ends badly ...) I think the challenge would be to overcome centralizing economic forces to the megacities, but I think there is already evidence that growth is shifting to mid-sized regional centers.

    Perhaps new locations in these countries can also address population shifts that may occur as a result of global warming - to higher land in Bangladesh or away from desertifying areas in Africa, etc.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by docwatson View post
    I think the challenge would be to overcome centralizing economic forces to the megacities, but I think there is already evidence that growth is shifting to mid-sized regional centers.
    This is going off-topic somewhat, but from your statement I started to think that one solution to this problem could be conurbation-style megacities. I think that mega-cities will happen either way, but starting several smaller centers in an urban region, and having each of those grow until a patchwork of semi-megacities has created a larger metropolitan area, might result in more equality in opportunity for residents as there are more centers around which to gather, not just one that would develop less wealthy ring suburbs that just go further and further away from the economically viable area. In some ways that might be a solution to the centralizing economic forces you are talking about. Just thinking.

    edit: An example of this would be the Pearl River Delta region of southeast China - the major centers of Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou, as well as the semi-Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau, have created what is fast becoming a massive supercity along the lines of the Boston-Washington corridor. This supercity, which would have at least 30 million people (that's the lowest estimate I've heard), has multiple centers and thus multiple areas of opportunity to gather around. It is far from one city with a suburb, but a group of cities again similar to the Boston-Washington corridor. My point is just that creating smaller (but still large) cities around a megacity's center might be a way to fight poverty. If anyone cares to address this here or in a private conversation I would be very interested in your opinions.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    With the resource industries and the state of their explorations and discoveries the way they are these days, I would think that a great place to do some 'new major city' exercises would be Williston, ND (population 14716 - 2010 USCensus).

    Mike

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    It seems to me that cities that are reliant on resource extraction and processing would be very vulnerable to fluctuations in the commodities markets. Then of course if the resource becomes exhausted or is no longer in demand, the city will have to reinvent itself or begin to slowly die. Like gold mining towns in the west are text book examples of that. Admittedly resource extraction is probably the most likely reason for the development of a new city.

    One place I can see potential for a resource extraction city popping up is in Bolivia. They apparently have the largest lithium reserves in the world which are largely untapped. Lithium is possibly going to become a strategic resource as the demand for batteries goes up. The problem is that as I understand it, most of the lithium is located in some salt flats in the middle of a desert. So there are a number of environment issues at play if they were to want to build a city there to extract it. It would definitely provide a lot of jobs to a poor area of the country though. Lithium is also interesting in that its extraction probably isn't the most environmentally friendly process but it is required for a lot of "green" products such as electric cars.

    I definitely think you selected an interesting topic. Most proposals for new cities that I read about subscribe to the idea that if you build it, people will eventually come. I definitely don't think that's a smart way to go about creating a city. There needs to be a viable economic draw inherent in that location. Like I was reading about a guy who wants to create a Russian version of Las Vegas in the middle of Siberia... good luck with that.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blide View post
    One place I can see potential for a resource extraction city popping up is in Bolivia.
    Anyone remember San Luis Potosi?

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    I hadn't seen that before. It looks like that area and its namesake in Bolivia both have some terrible mining conditions. I guess that begs the question as to whether a city focusing on mineral extraction can even be sustainable, especially in the developing world. Then I guess building a city in the middle of the desert where there is little water wouldn't be too sustainable either.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    Uh, I guess the San Luis isn't part of the city I was referring to, the Bolivian silver mining town of Potosi, but you found it anyway Blide. It was the ultimate mineral extraction city back in the day and became roughly the size of London at the time (200,000 people). But unlike London the population was mostly workers laboring in primitive mines that were very, very sketchy and caused a lot of deaths. It was hell, supposedly, and is no better off now in a lot of ways. I didn't mean it as a dig to your 'mineral extraction city' idea, it just reminded me of the past.

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