Some time ago I produced some pictures of a linear city. It looked rather like a huge greenhouse and attracted some criticism. These pictures show a modified city with separate buildings, town centres and rather more variety. I hope they are self-explanatory.
Just like the earlier version this city copies Manhattan. It is only 2 miles wide but it is as long as required.
The aim is to house millions of people but ensure that none are more than a mile from open countryside. Public transport is provided in the form of trams and trains. Cycleways are built into the city from the outset. Housing density is high so that distances are short. Energy consumption on travel and home heating will be less than 20% of current UK average levels. At that level renewable energy could meet the need, making the city effectively zero carbon.
What do you think of these sketches of a future city? I think it could cut energy use, save lots of countryside and offer a great lifestyle.
Every home is close to the countryside. There are restaurants galore. Millions of job opportunities within 30 minutes commuting time. A wide range of sports can be played or watched. There are plays, concerts and cinemas. There is a choice of schools, universities, hospitals, museums, art galleries all within easy reach.
The disabled, the old, children and cyclists can travel safely. Trains are used for travel along the city, moving walkways aid walking across the city. All services, and all deliveries are electrically powered and underground.
A roof and triple glazed walls protect the whole city and keep it at the right temperature. It is easier to control the temperature of the whole city than many individual homes because the external surface is very much smaller. There is no fuel poverty because homes do not need to be individually heated. There is no sweltering heat either if the city is built in the tropics.
The city could be built up to 20 storeys high and perhaps 2 kilometres (1 and a quarter miles) wide. At that scale it could provide homes for millions of people. It would have added attraction if an existing, fast growing city was at one end of the line.
The linear city offers a new alternative. A life that combines a place in the country with the buzz of a major city. A place where a family could be brought up. There is no need for a car, except perhaps for occasional trips at weekends when one can be hired.
The city duplicates the dynamism of similar linear cities like Manhattan or Hong Kong, and by keeping things compact it leaves the environment available for all to enjoy.
Best of all, energy use on cars and heating/cooling will be a fraction of their current level. Follow this link. The red column on the left estimates individual energy use in the UK. Other developed countries will be similar. You can see that cars and heating/cooling represent a good chunk of the way we currently use energy. The linear city could be a big part of a sustainable future, especially with a couple of billion more people to house on the planet by 2050.
I hope the pictures tell the story. I really struggled with some of these, and nearly gave in and used Powerpoint. Sketching is more fun, and I’ve put in for a course starting in January!
Why can’t this be done now? It can, and to an extent it is. There is however a big leap from a suburban world to living in close company in a city. People still aspire to leave the cities for the suburbs. The city presented here may not seem attractive until the fuel price rises to the point where individual homes and cars become unaffordable.
I’ll probably enter this concept into a competition in early 2014 to see if it gains any support there. But I’m not hopeful, I think that its time has not yet come.
What do you think? Would you live here? Let me know your views by clicking on the poll or posting comments.
I’ve done a page with a little more information on linear cities in the ‘Background and Assumptions’ section.