9.13.2011

Instant Cities and Solipsism Disorder

Image from Gale International via sustainablecities.dk


I've been thinking about recent megacity projects in India and Asia, such as Songdo in Korea and several in China. Can we think about these extreme topdown master plans and constructions as falling victim to or generating a sort of Solipsism Syndrome? 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism_syndrome

Solipsism Syndrome appears to be associated with theories on humans in space:


http://www.nss.org/settlement/nasa/spaceresvol4/images/monitor.JPG
"Something must exist beyond each human's manipulation because people learn to cope with reality when reality is different from their imagination. If the reality is the same as the imagination, there is no escape from falling into solipsism. In extraterrestrial communities, everything can be virtually controlled. In fact, technically nothing should go beyond human control even though this is psychologically bad; however, some amount of "unpredictability" can be built in within a controllable range. One way to achieve this is to generate artificial unpredictability by means of a table of random numbers. Another way is to allow animals and plants a degree of freedom and independence from human planning. Both types of unpredictability must have a high visibility to be effective. This high visibility is easier to achieve in a macrogeometry which allows longer lines of sight..." - Wikipedia

I see this applying to planning, architecture, and urban design as well. How far do topdown utopian planning architects need to go before they start having to consider 'introducing a level of unpredictability'? All this means in terms of cities is letting people do their thing. Most of our cities--being semi-organic--have so much unpredictability it boggles the mind, and according to the wiki on the 'disorder', this is probably not an unhealthy thing.


But what about this new breed of instant megacity where unpredictability has been minimized to an extreme? would new inhabitants start to exhibit the signs of this disorder in these environments? one has to wonder.. but rather than dismissing these new cities as unhealthy and staring with shock, disgust, and fascination as most features on them seem to, it might be more interesting to explore how they could incorporate enough unpredictability to grow into healthy inhabited settlements. One way or another people might have to live in these places. how can we create systems of governance and urban spaces that allow us to be just out of control enough to feel alive?


I am reminded of this "immune-system boosting house" 

What if a whole city were built like this?


Of course the real answer I think is not wacky design but rather loosening the creative grip (creatively loosening if you absolutely have to be 'creative') and planning for agent citizens with various interests and agendas, and for unexpected occurrences that multiply and build alternative urban systems from below.

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