People congregate in cities for many reasons.  Shelter, food, social life, and opportunities are all on the list.  How well connected the physical aspects  of our city is determines how well all of these work for us.  As the quality of connections between elements of the city improves, the ability live in the city improves.  When an optimum number of quality connections is achieved the city becomes a great place to live.   This is proximity power in action.

Efficient sequencing is a way of improving the quality of connections by how various businesses and activities are located by relationship.  Put a business that has some kind of waste or trash made by its processes close to another business that uses that waste or trash and you have an example of efficient sequencing.  Another example would be grouping businesses close to each other to allow waste heat from one business to become process heat for a different business.  This allows the energy to “cascade” from one business to another as it cools off. 

Workable City Defined
Minimum energy per capita (this is related to energy optimization)
Healthy living conditions for everyone
Mutually supporting systems in close proximity (synergistic power)
Useful voids  (the space between buildings is useful)
Minimal footprint of the city (shared resources yield synergistic value)
Efficient sequencing of businesses and services (transportation minimization)
Proximity power (accessibility, transportation minimization, energy minimization)
Effective connections minimize transit interruptions
Accessible (paths for everyone)
Energy minimization lowers associated pollution
Simple elegance (culture fair design -- universally appealing)
Powered by renewable energy (locally available energy resources)
 Living in harmony with the Biosphere results in less damage to the natural world.

Improving Connections

Cities are the largest machines we have ever built.  They are also the most difficult machines to improve.  Try transforming a 747 jumbo jet into some other kind of flying machine while it is in flight!  Although cities can be transformed, the process is often gradual unless natural disasters or war cause massive destruction which forces rapid reconstruction.  Because of this, making cities more workable and sustainable is often similar to an evolutionary metamorphosis.  Existing cities are nudged toward greater sustainability and workability by replacing old structures with new technologies and designs.

If we think of cities as life support systems, how well people who live in them are nurtured is a measure of the quality of the the overall design of the city.  Cities that provide healthy living conditions as well as opportunities for education and personal growth, for all its citizens, rank high in this measure of the city's workability. 

Nurturing is not enough.  Cities that nurture with lower energy cost per capita score higher than cities that require vast energy resources to provide the same level of nurturing ability. 

Cities that make it possible to live very close to the food supply reduce the per capita energy involved in feeding their people.  This principle lowers the associated pollution caused by using high energy systems to deliver food over great distances.

Future cities may be powered entirely by renewable energy.  If we keep this as a goal, progress towards this goal will depend on finding ways to reduce the required energy for any process involving energy.  This is load minimization.  This is where complex design and synergistic effects  play an important role.  Tight recycling loops, transportation minimization, and effective connections become as important as improving the efficiency of motors, making products with durable quality, or making robotized warehouses.  The most important energy principle is not needing large amounts of energy to get the job done!

In our efforts to integrate these design principles, we should not forget ergonomics.  Human scale design makes human energy an important part of the energy mix. Ergonomic tools, architecture, and transportation systems may make cities with greater population densities much more workable than the sprawling, automobile-centric cities will ever be.  Psychologically appealing architecture may be one of the most important  of the tools used to attract people to live in these new cities of the future.

Cities for People
Automobiles are an insidious and pernicious problem that will not go away soon.  Cities are built so cars can move around in them.  This necessitates parking lots, excessive road networks, excessive city plumbing for sewage, water and electrical systems, street lights, traffic lights,... the list goes on and on.  This infrastructure that exists to support automobiles causes the architecture of sprawl by forcing the perception that cars are a necessity.  There are much more efficient and effective transportation systems than automobiles but we must be willing to redesign cities to get them.  

Sprawl costs energy and using energy causes a variety of pollution problems which culminate and concatenate to result in an ever increasing human impact on the weather systems of the world.  Global warming is happening at an increasing rate that is linked to per capita rise in energy use and fossil fuel consumption.  Take cars out of the equation and the total of all resources needed to support the life of the city drops dramatically.  Complex, 3 dimensional  design, makes it possible to lower the energy cost of living while raising the standard of living.  

Sprawl causes global warming in another insidious way.  Flat, grid cities have large amounts of synthetic surfaces that are practically devoid of living flowers, bushes and trees.  Incoming solar energy striking synthetic surfaces gets changed from visible light to infra red which, in turn, contributes to global warming.  To make matters worse, thermal heat island effect soaks up this infrared energy and makes the city hotter than it would have been if it were more organic.  Turning on refrigeration systems and air conditioners doesn't help the global warming problem because they just move heat from one place to another which makes the city even hotter which causes more use of air conditioners.  Buildings should reject heat while accepting light in the summer and accept broad spectrum solar energy in the winter.  

Viewed from this kind of perspective, passive solar design may make the difference between cataclysmic and armageddon like failure of the Biosphere due to global warming.  While transforming existing buildings to passive solar design, we should also be looking at architectural solutions that help us get rid of the need for automobiles as the main means of transportation in cities.  This means more high rise built on transit paths and more complex design of the essential elements of cities to make mechanistic transit practically minimized. *******

Build cities for people, not for cars.

We may be seeing ever more need for disaster relief for large populations in the future.  Many people have been made suddenly homeless by natural disasters and human caused problems.  Tower Towns can be a way of helping people made homeless have a place to live.


Welcome to Imagine City               Audio Topics                  Global Renaissance

Moving Fast          Empower City            Renewable Cities            Connect City

Human Scale Cities        Super City       Tower Towns       Design Considerations

Restructuring for Activists        Sustainability Indicators         Subsidy by Design 

Linear City Concepts                Network Megalopolis               Urban Agriculture
High Rise Greenhouses                Magnetic Levitation Trains              City Links

Coloring Book 


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