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Strange, Beautiful and Unexpected: Planned Cities Seen From Space

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posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 12:00 PM
While I was originally researching what advancements are expected by the year 2030, I read this section from this article that piqued my interest:

Although the Council does allow for the possibility of a “decisive re-assertion of U.S. power,” the futurists seem pretty well convinced that America is, relatively speaking, on the decline and that China is on the ascent. In fact, the Council believes nation-states in general are losing their oomph, in favor of “megacities [that will] flourish and take the lead in confronting global challenges.” And we’re not necessarily talking New York or Beijing here; some of these megacities could be somehow “built from scratch.”

Megacities built from scratch. If you web search "cities built from scratch", you will get plenty of hits and it seems as though China ("on the ascent" as we all know) is currently very aggressive in these projects. You can revisit some threads about China's newly constructed cities:
Chinese Ghost Cities Popping Up in...Africa? by seabag
Why is China building eerie 'ghost cities'? by hawkiye

This topic of China's technological aggressiveness could spawn other threads as well, whether the discussion revolves around "China's technological advancement and economic ascent" or "China is much more of a futurist country than America". Either way, it's very apparent that China has a vision and they are certainly dedicated to making it a reality. But that is for another day, as it is not the main topic of this thread.

Anyway that paragraph I read led to this article that shows some cities as viewed from space. Here are the first few with their backstory:

Brasília, Brazil
Brazil's capital is one of the best known planned cities in the world. From space it looks like a bird, or a plane... or Superman.

Brasília was almost entirely built in 41 months, at great expense, and opened in April 1960. It was intended to be a more central, neutrally located capital for the country whose previous capital, Rio de Janeiro, sits on the southeastern coast in the midst of much of the country's commercial activity. Today, Brasilia's greater metropolitan area is home to nearly 4 million people. It is one of the largest cities in the world that was built since 1900.

Palmanova, Italy
This nine-pointed fortress is perhaps the best example of a planned city from the Renaissance. Palmanova was built in 1593 and is located in the northeastern corner of Italy near the border with Slovenia.

It was intended to be home to a completely self-reliant utopian community that could also defend itself against the Ottomans. It had three guarded entrances, ramparts between each of the star points and eventually a moat. Sadly, nobody was willing to move there. Eventually it was used as free housing for pardoned criminals. Today it is a national monument, a tourist destination and home to around 5,000 people.

El Salvador, Chile
El Salvador is a small town in the middle of nowhere in Chile (see below). After discovering a huge amount of copper ore in 1954, the Anaconda Mining Company had to build a self-sustaining town to house its workers. Designed by an American architect, it is supposedly built in the shape of a Roman helmet. The town was finished in 1959, the same year that the El Salvador mine was opened. The city was home to as many as 24,000 people but today has around 7,000 and is still an active mining town.

Canberra, Australia

At the end of the 19th century, Australia's two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, were vying to be the capital of the country. The compromise was to build a brand new city in between the two, and in 1908, Canberra was chosen as the site for this new planned city.

A competition was held to decide who would design the new Canberra, and in 1912 the plan of American architect Walter Burley Griffin (right) was chosen.

"I have planned a city that is not like any other in the world," Griffin famously said. "I have planned it not in a way that I expected any government authorities in the world would accept. I have planned an ideal city -- a city that meets my ideal of the city of the future."

Griffin was eventually ensnarled in bureaucratic infighting and was kicked off the project in 1920 when barely any construction work had been done. The legislature did not move in to the city until 1927. The city continued to be expanded for decades. Today it is home to more than 350,000 people.

Considering Palmanova and Brasilia were constructed 100 years ago, and given the speed of technological advancements of today, it is exciting to think about what "new" cities will look like... and even more exciting to imagine their capabilites. Here's to building a better, more sustainable future rather than allowing our governments to destroy each other, our cities, and humanity.

edit on 1-1-2013 by six67seven because: Video added

posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 12:11 PM
Put's the term "Planned opolis" into a whole new light.

Happy New Year!

posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 12:18 PM

These planned cities remind me of the work of Jacques Fresco of the Venus Project.

The Venus Project

Jacque Fresco on Wikipedia

This man has always been a hero of mine.

I often wondered what it would look like if somebody actually implemented some of Jacques's architectural designs.

I never knew these designs actually existed in real life.
Great post.

edit on 1-1-2013 by QMask because: Had to tidy up a bit.

posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 01:05 PM
reply to post by QMask

Given the priorities of some governments (ahem, the U.S., ahem), I don't see these sustainable cities being constructed. The west will watch and be left behind as China, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, etc. build the future they believe will allow their populations to thrive. We (the US) will still be here with an incompetent, short-sighted government; society crumbling before our very eyes as we continue to bicker about high capacity magazines, abortion and the next big distraction.

posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 01:31 PM
Check out this article titled Instant Cities

Two years ago, developer Stan Gale cut the ribbon on the world’s newest city—a man-made island in the Yellow Sea named New Songdo. The chairman of New York-based Gale International had pledged in 2001 to borrow $35 billion to build a city the size of downtown Boston modeled on Manhattan, complete with a hundred-acre “Central Park” fronted by South Korea’s tallest building. Songdo won’t be finished until 2016 at least, but Gale isn’t waiting around. These days, he’s pitching China’s mayors on his “city-in-a-box”—a kit to build their own smart, green city of the future in as little as three years. “We’re going to be the special sauce of city-building,” he vows.

The most ambitious instant city of all remains New Songdo, which aims to be the template for dozens to follow. Originally commissioned by Korea’s government to lure multinationals from Singapore and Hong Kong, Songdo is less of a Korean city than a Western one floating just offshore from Seoul. Eschewing the sci-fi trappings of Tianjin or Mentougou, Songdo’s architects at New York’s Kohn Pedersen Fox chose to cherry-pick the signatures of beloved cities and recycle them as building blocks. In practice, this means its streets and Central Park are modeled on Manhattan’s, its canal inspired by Venice, and its gardens borrowed from Savannah’s. (The golf course is courtesy of Jack Nicklaus.) This model has proved wildly popular with middle-class Koreans, who bought the first 1,600 apartments in a wild weekend scramble in May, 2005. Roughly a third of Songdo’s 65,000 envisioned residents now live there; the rest are expected to move in by 2017.

Songdo, too, is being touted as the greenest, most energy-efficient city in the world. All of its water and waste will be recycled and buildings will boast solar panels and sod on their roofs, specially glazed windows, and superefficient fixtures for efficient heating, cooling, and ventilation. It’s also meant to be “smart” in the sense that every square inch of the city will be wired with digital synapses—from the trunk lines running beneath the streets to the filaments branching through every wall and fixture. To what end? Stan Gale and his partners at Cisco Systems aren’t sure, but imagine if a city operated like an Apple iPhone—they would like to sell you the apps for everyday life.

Pretty interesting stuff. At least some have the foresight, commitment and funds to make this a reality. Even if it fails, every detail of these types of projects will be scrutinized and studied, which will give new investors and designers the information they need to adjust and try again. Failure is what drives us.

Video - Shenzhen, China: An Instant City
edit on 1-1-2013 by six67seven because: (no reason given)

edit on 1-1-2013 by six67seven because: Video removed and added to OP

posted on Jan, 1 2013 @ 01:48 PM
From space, our societies look like bacterial colonies at the bottom of a petri dish.

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