1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. I will no longer be hosting XLNation as of March 1, 2017. Skullz613 will be taking the reigns of the site in early 2017 and XLNation will be moving to a new web hosting service. During that transition there will be an interruption in service of up to two weeks. Skullz613 is now a full administrator of XLNation. Be kind to him.

Discuss Real Life Architecture, Structure And Sociology

Discussion in 'XLN Watering Hole' started by kipate, Sep 29, 2014.

  1. kipate

    kipate Governor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    1,626
    Likes Received:
    1,355
    Hey Guys!

    *crowd saying "hey kipate!" in a bored voice* :p

    What I have missed here recently were all the discussions about
    the thing we all get our inspiration from, but that some of us just rarely face :p
    Real Life, and especially, as we all love CXL :xllove:, real life architecture, structure
    and sociology. I remember some thread opened by Wheelbarrow (Cheers, Mate, by the way)
    where we discussed about the possibility of having cities with a 100 million inhabitants
    in the close future (I think I was on the contra-side), a thread that gained even aitortilla01's
    attention (Cheers, Master) and quickly turned into one of the most viewed threads on Old XLN
    (in the dark ages :p ).

    So I hereby would like to refresh such kinds of threads and maybe channelise the threads,
    hence this long title :(

    So what could be an appropriate topic for a first discussion. Well, I recently heard some
    people complaining about cities looking "griddy" (it was not only you, Roy, there were at least
    five other people who said that chessboard-grids were not good :p ).

    So, why not discussing the grid plan?
    What are its advantages against other road layout forms like circular roads,
    what are its disadvantages, why do people dislike this road layout and,
    interesting for all people here, what could be done to change people's
    dismissal?

    The grid layout in general is the oldest form of road layouts and dates back
    more than 4,000 years in the past.
    In ancient Rome, so around 2,000 years ago, it had been the standard road layout
    for any new town that they built. And, as most of you will know, has been the
    standard road layout for American villages, towns and even cities that were
    planned in the late 19th and early 20th century.

    220px-American_Grid_Comparison.jpg
    (source: wikimedia)

    Of course, π was approached already in ancient Egypt, so planners could theoretically
    have chosen circular layouts over grid layout. And it was rather easy to make
    circles and curves into the terrain. So why they did not have other road layouts?
    In my opinion, because people were pragmatical: with grid plans, you could
    simply copy some buildings, e.g. having 8 square buildings forming a ring.
    Having circular shapes, people would need to calculate any new building
    beneath the roads, a process that takes rather long not having any machines
    working for you, and I'm not talking of abaci :p

    So the advantages of grid layouts are clearly that the time needed for
    creating the layout was rather short, and the costs for the buildings
    were merely low, as creating extras for circular-shaped building complexes surely
    raises the price of constrution.

    What could be the disadvantages that other road layouts have not?
    Well, if the city was rather large, people could get confused about all the
    roads and walk though the city without knowing where to go.
    Well, nowadays, with all these apps, this seems rather impossible anymore...

    But, grid layouts do not take into account topographical features,
    e.g. forests, swamp areas, hills. Especially if you place a grid layout
    on a hilly terrain, it could be that cars won't be able to pass
    in winter.
    267px-Baldwinstreet.jpg
    Baldwin Street, Dunedin, NZ (source: wikimedia)
    Or think about San Francisco...

    One problem that arises in cities that have extensive grid layouts could be that
    the traffic is rather the same everywhere, if there are no major roads...

    So, a solution of how to overcome the boredom of such grids
    was given already by the grid layout of Savannah, Georgia:
    220px-Savannah_Portland_NewYork_City_Blocks_FG.jpg
    (source: wikimedia)
    Savannah has small greenery areas between the blocks. Now you can decide
    for yourself whether it does look better than the blocks of NYC or not.

    So, let's start the discussion, what do you think, or what do you know that I missed.
    Don't hesitate with arguments and feedback :)
     
  2. royb 98

    royb 98 Elite

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2014
    Messages:
    380
    Likes Received:
    142
    Nice article kipate! I must confess I don't like any of the grids, but that's just my opinion. Of course it's a rather easy way to build a city, so that's why I really don't like grid cities in CXL :mad:. A city should evolve, so to me, a grid layout is a sign the city has been built in a couple of minutes. Get yourself a piece of paper, a pencil and a ruler and draw some lines on it, no creativity needed.
    But yes, it is the most practical. A sedan is practical too, but I'd rather get myself a space shuttle or a tank (okay, a sports car will do). Practicality isn't always good. Or practical, like in Baldwin Street...
     
  3. kipate

    kipate Governor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    1,626
    Likes Received:
    1,355
    Well, I would agree that grid layouts should not be seen in organically grown medieval parts
    of a city. But if you have parts that were planned, e.g. half of Manhattan in the 19th century,
    a grid layout would be fitting, even though it may be looking unimaginitive...
     
  4. veija2

    veija2 Mayor

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2014
    Messages:
    625
    Likes Received:
    475
    Great topic idea, kipate. It's really at the heart of many city planning debates. Hope I didn't get too carried away here.

    Cities across the globe have been laid out on a grid pattern since as early as 2600 BC (present-day Pakistan, Egypt). Even though nearly every reigning empire in antiquity built grid cities, they are most often associated with the Greeks and Romans, because the Romans built a whole -Ism around the concept (Roman Urbanism).

    In Europe, grid cities developed between the 12th and 16th centuries. Spain mandated them for all new colonies in the Americans in 1483, and by 1582, Philadelphia was planned out as the first major grid based city in the USA.

    Why a grid?
    For ancient and medieval times, a city built on a grid was easier to rule.
    1. It's easier to count your stuff. "I own 100 [grid units] of stuff in Camelot, and 16 [grid units] of stuff in Timbuktu." I can tax Camelot how much more than Timbuktu?
    2. It allows for standardization. Hippodamus, who devised the Greek grid system and who is often called the "father of urban planning," believed in allotting resources according to three classes of citizen, and dividing land into sacred, public and private spaces. All easier using grids.
    3. You can use it to remind people that you are connected to God. In Many grid cities, beginning in pyramid based cities, a north-south axis from the royal palace and an east-west axis from the temple/church would meet at a central plaza where King and God merged and crossed.
    4. A grid city is easier to defend. Grid cities don't just spring up at common crossroad like villages do. They are strategically placed to defend your kingdom. Based on Roman military camps, grid cities are square, with fortified barrier walls and two main streets that intersect in the middle of the city and divide the it into quadrants. There is a city gate at each end of both main streets, and guard tower(s) by each gate. You can control all access to your city. You hope.
    5. Grid cities allows for rapid expansion. When you don't have to spend all you time counting, preserving and defending your territory, you have more time to go out and conquer the rest of the world. Or, in the American fashion, go west young man and purchase your new homestead that is all nicely plotted out on a geometrically based (grid) map.

    There are modern day reasons to support a grid based city - like uniform building codes and straight sided houses with 90 degree angles, or consistent street numbering.

    What killed the grid?
    1. The automobile. The city grid was run over by a car.
    When you are no longer concerned with defending them in hand-to-hand combat and are not reliant on public transportation, grid based cities are walking-person friendly, not driving-person friendly. A driver wants large superblocks with fewer continuous through streets that have more and faster car travel lanes. (I think the dynamics of CXL favor this type of city.)

    In the 1920s - 1940s, owning a car in a developed country could get you out of the "cramped and cluttered" city to the freedom and prosperity promised by the suburbs. "Live on your own private cul-de-sac with easy access to the freeway!" To be fair, urban areas were often not only cramped and dirty but also disease and crime riddled.

    2. Boredom. Most planned cities worldwide are grid based. Rather than developing gradually over a long period of time in sporadic jumps, street patterns are uniformly square or rectangular. Many grid based cities used to ignore local geographical highlights as well, dummying down the cityscape even more.

    3. Technology. Buildings in grid based cities are located along the perimeter of a block, with entrances facing the street. This design was intended to provide good social interaction among people. That's face-to-face interaction, people.

    CXL: my move back to the grid
    I've been playing city building games since the original SimCity came out twenty-five years ago. Since then, I began working in urban transit management, and became interested in urban planning. Mixed use city planning, Livable Cities, Sustainable Neighborhoods - these are concepts that are important to me. So I've gotten back to using some grids in my CXL cities.

    I used to layout every single road by hand. Now I like a mix of free-flowing streets in hilly and/or suburban areas, and a variety of grid configurations in urban areas. That seems the most realistic and challenging to me at the moment. Good urban is hard to create. You can look at a CXL city and tell if it's based on just dropping grids. There will be a whopping traffic nightmare, for one thing. I fit any grid shapes I use to my master road plan, and place the new building grouped how I want. You can tell the difference. For Harriet Island, I built large apartment complexes using identical buildings, because that fit the storyline. And although some people have said otherwise, I really like how it looks. And it was more complicated than I had thought it would be to make it actually work.

    resources:
    http://www.andrewalexanderprice.com/blog.php#.VCndjmd0yc9; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grid_plan; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_the_Indies;
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippodamus_of_Miletus; http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/building/townplanning.html; http://globalmoxie.com/blog/nyc-grid-design.shtml; http://www.thegreatamericangrid.com/archives/777
     
    kipate likes this.
  5. prismaticmarcus

    prismaticmarcus Unskilled Worker

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    5
    i think you'll find this interesting.

    there was an international competition to design Canberra, the capital of Australia. the winner was an american team, Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion Mahony Griffin.

    this is the final version of their winning design:

    Image7-big.jpg

    Lake Burley Griffin (as it was named) was created by damming the Molonglo River. you might want to have a google to see what other designers did with the river :)

    what's interesting is the blend of grids and circles. the city was actually designed around axes and vistas:

    Aerial_View_of_Canberra1.jpg

    some, but not all, of Griffin's vision is still visible today:

    canberra_large.jpg

    (incidentally, the Black Mountain telecoms tower is where the 'i' is in this photo, at the top left)

    the funny thing is that people who are not from Canberra HATE driving there! 'It's all circles! You don't know where you are!' i think it's probably easier to retain a sense of direction in a grid i.e. ' i turned left, so now i'm heading west'.
     
  6. KevinTheCynic

    KevinTheCynic Executive

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    28
    I lived in a suburb of Canberra in the 1970s (I was still in primary school, just in case you're wondering!) Many suburbs that were on the outskirts in the 1970s had a conformity to them but avoided using a strict grid pattern as the main layout (and they had other variations to take terrain features into account). They still followed a circular overall pattern but they weren't as strict as the CBD/government district in this.

    Many people want some sort of order when they move about and a grid pattern makes them feel as though a logical progression is happening and it also makes transport easier. But... people also like some beauty in their vistas and a grid pattern just appears as completely artificial and doesn't suit that desire. There's no doubt that a grid pattern is more efficient (if there aren't major deviations needed to account for terrain) but it isn't the most pleasing. For example, I find central areas of New York City to be quite ugly, they just look like row after row of slab sided buildings - the phrase "concrete canyons" seems to have been invented for New York.
     
  7. veija2

    veija2 Mayor

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2014
    Messages:
    625
    Likes Received:
    475
    Yeah, that is interesting. Let's see, two American architects designed the Australian capital city, using a design concept based on the British urban planning method called the garden city movement, which was itself based on literary works about Utopia, written by two different Americans. You Aussies are fearless.

    And Canberra looks really cool, too. (y)
     
    prismaticmarcus likes this.
  8. kipate

    kipate Governor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    1,626
    Likes Received:
    1,355
    But only a few people live there, it looks almost deserted, even being only a few kilometers
    away from the city center (1 mile = 1.6 kilometers, for all the English people here :p )
    One can really understand when people say that Sydney or Melbourne are the capital of
    Australia. They are represantive, have many highlights, and are economically powerful
    (It is the same with some other planned capital cities like Brasilia or Washington DC-
    the population of DC has declined for the past decades).

    Nonetheless, Canberra is a good example of how to avoid boring looking road layouts.
    If it had taller and more representative buildings around the Capitol Circle, this would
    have made it a fantastic city (so only 3 stars in my review, the creator should download
    some more high rise mods :p )
     
    prismaticmarcus likes this.
  9. prismaticmarcus

    prismaticmarcus Unskilled Worker

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    5
    to be fair to the Griffins and canberra's planners since, Capital Hill was to be the site of Parliament.

    22892-1000x800.jpg

    that's the temporary Parliament House down the hill. temporary, of course, means 1927 - 1988. i think it's neat that the prizewinning competition design (yes, an american won this one too) involved lopping the top off the hill and recreating it in the shape of the building. the principle was that the citizens would be able to walk over, and be higher than, the politicians.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. KevinTheCynic

    KevinTheCynic Executive

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    28
    While Canberra might seem underpopulated when compared to European or North American cities, it isn't underpopulated by Australian standards. You have to take into account that Australia has a total population of just over 23 million in 2014.
    We only reached 20 million in December of 2003.
    There are states in European countries and in the USA that have more people than the total population of Australia.

    Our cities would be large towns by European standards but the other thing to take into account is that we have a lot more land for the population size. We don't have to have compact towns/cities and so we can have them spread out without worry about using up land needed for agriculture or industry and so on.

    For us, the distance between one town and another might be 30km or it might be 300km. For example, I used to live in the mining town of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. One of my friends lived in another mining town (Mount Magnet). The nearest town to Kalgoorlie was about 40km away while the nearest town to Mt Magnet was about 70km away.

    Once a month we would both travel to Perth for a weekend of pubs, clubs and movies.
    Kalgoorlie is about 600km from Perth while Mt Magnet is about 580km so we travelled about 1200km just for a weekend in the city.
    By train, the trip from Kalgoorlie to Perth was about eight hours.
    By comparison, the first time I was in the UK, I spent two and half hours on a train from London and in that time travelled a third of the length of the entire nation.
     
  11. veija2

    veija2 Mayor

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2014
    Messages:
    625
    Likes Received:
    475
    If I ever get back to Australia, I am definitely going to visit Canberra! Are there buildings standing empty and city decay, or is it just a spacious city? Hope I get to see it one day.

    Kevin - I totally relate to what you're saying. Just think, with another couple hours in transit, you could have been in a completely different country. Talk about a weekend get-away. I don't think anyone in the world is as lucky as people who get to travel.

    After a summer backpacking around Europe as a student, I came home to the American Midwest. More than anything else, I was struck by the how incredibly vast and unruly the countryside seemed. I can remember thinking I finally understood why some Americans are loud, obnoxious travelers... barely out of diapers, culturally.

    That fall I moved to Minneapolis. I lived in a studio apartment in an old Victorian mansion, right on Loving Hill. Another new sense of space developed.

    All this just to say that one's sense of space is relative, I guess. As in, maybe my diverse background is why I like a mix-up in my CLX cities.
     
  12. kipate

    kipate Governor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    1,626
    Likes Received:
    1,355
    So I would like to just mention that I read a bit about Canberra and found out that
    the city has always been expanded in an even widespread manner, what appears
    strange to me, as it makes people car-depending as long as there are no efficient
    public networks (apparently, there are no such efficient networks in Canberra,
    as the public transportation usage there was only 5%, what the ...).
    Don't know if that was the best for youths who hate boredom :)

    Well, anyways, I will rather see this as just part of another culture I may not
    totally understand yet, but which I could at least respect.

    I do not want to interrupt your talking about Canberra, but we are
    leaving a bit the yet given main topic. I don't want to dictate you what to talk
    about, no no, but what you have been talking about would maybe deserve
    its own discussion/session, so maybe we come back to the grid discussion
    and discuss the comparison between widespread communities and
    narrow towns later (Canberra here served as a role model for the first one)?
    Then we could bring in also all your experiences a bit more, I would really like to hear about these.
    Do you agree?
     
  13. veija2

    veija2 Mayor

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2014
    Messages:
    625
    Likes Received:
    475
    Excellent.
     
  14. kipate

    kipate Governor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    1,626
    Likes Received:
    1,355
    Okay, so what I would like to clarify regarding grids was whether
    there could be a simple ruleof thumb to make the grid layout attractive
    without destroying its entity. I mean, Canberra cannot be declared a
    grid-layout city, or?
    Savannah, Georgia was a good example to make grids more
    attractive. The designer created little parks within the one grid block unit.
    So my question now was whether the only way to make grids attractive
    would be to place parks or square into the grid block units.
    And if so, which was the most effective attractive way,
    placing larger squares into the center of the block units or having
    for example a grid like in NYC but then reversing some houses and
    placing a square in front of...
    220px-Savannah_Portland_NewYork_City_Blocks_FG.jpg
    I know, we leave the part where we can argue rather
    with statistics but more will have to make
    subjective statements, but maybe we find some
    overall solution that can be accepted by anyone, though :)
     
  15. KevinTheCynic

    KevinTheCynic Executive

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    28
    You're right, the discussion of Canberra would be better done in a separate thread but I would like to mention one other thing that makes Canberra the way it is.
    It's a specialized city, a large portion of it's population is involved with government or the bureaucracy and they want their own cars, they don't want to travel on buses or trains - these people believe that public transport is for poor people!
     
  16. prismaticmarcus

    prismaticmarcus Unskilled Worker

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    5
    sorry, i did think maybe i was threadjacking. didn't mean to :)
     
  17. prismaticmarcus

    prismaticmarcus Unskilled Worker

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    5
    it's very spacious. spacious almost to the point of feeling empty.
     
  18. prismaticmarcus

    prismaticmarcus Unskilled Worker

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    5
    yeah, it's ridiculous. they're only just now talking about bringing in trams which is a perfect solution for canberra as a lot of the roads are very wide.
     
  19. prismaticmarcus

    prismaticmarcus Unskilled Worker

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    5
    another australian example (which i hope takes us back to the topic) is adelaide:

    ADELAIDE.jpg

    you might agree that this is an excellent way of maintaining a grid but making it more interesting. i really can't think of a more effective way of planning a city than to use grids.
     
  20. KevinTheCynic

    KevinTheCynic Executive

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2014
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    28
    Yeah I tend to agree, grids are a more efficient way of laying out a city but you can break those grids up by placing them as blocks at different angles to each other (with the spaces inbetween filled with other features or parkland and so on) to make the city seem less linear. Or even having clusters of grids separated by large parklands, natural features and so on.
     
    prismaticmarcus likes this.

Share This Page