Urban trauma describes a condition where conflict or catastrophe has disrupted and damaged not only the physical environment and infrastructure of a city, but also the social and cultural networks. Cities experiencing trauma dominate the daily news. Images of blasted buildings, or events such as Hurricane Katrina exemplify the sense of ‘immediate impact’. But how is this trauma to be understood in its aftermath, and in urban terms? What is the response of the discipline to the post-traumatic condition? On the one hand, one can try to restore and recover everything that has passed, or otherwise see the post-traumatic city as a resilient space poised on the cusp of new potentialities. While repair and reconstruction are automatic reflexes, the knowledge and practices of the disciplines need to be imbued with a deeper understanding of the effect of trauma on cities and their contingent realities. This issue will pursue this latter approach, using examples of post-traumatic urban conditions to rethink the agency of architecture and urbanism in the contemporary world. Post-traumatic urbanism demands of architects the mobilisation of skills, criticality and creativity in contexts in which they are not familiar. The post-traumatic is no longer the exception; it is the global condition.
I came across the video below a while ago and just rediscovered it in my drafts folder. It charts the construction of Magnasanti, an example of a kind of extreme urbanism and what it perhaps the perfect SimCity, or at the very least the most densely populated SimCity to date.
Magnasanti, built in SimCity3 has a resident population of 6,000,000 and an itinerant workforce of 2,523,000 workers in the commercial sector and 644,173 blue collar workers in the industrial districts. That’s 9,172,000 people in total. There is 0% crime, but an average life expectancy of 50 years.
According to the author, it is the absolute maximum population achievable in SImCity without employing any cheats, and its foundation on a 12x12 grid cannot be beaten.
The video shows the city best, so:
(pro tip: mute the sound…)
This is the kind of archiporn that I am a sucker for; gamespace urbanism exploited to its extreme condition. Can you ‘win’ urbanism? Is this even urbanism? If not, can we take anything from its construction? The primary move that the city makes is to remove cars altogether and base transport purely on subways. I suspect this is a method to exploit the space otherwise taken up by roads for real estate allowing for an increased population per tile, however, it is a strategy that many cities—Sydney included—are seriously looking into. Remove motor vehicles, increase public transport. Seems like a sound idea. But Ultimately, Magnasanti has little to do with urban design and everything to do with gaming systems for maximum reward.
Trawling through one of the user forums discussing the city, we find the kind of encoded conversation that is at once alien and familiar to real world discussions of architecture and urbanism, only this time I am on the other side of the fence:
I can’t see the industry from here, but by the EQ I take it you went with clean? You realize you could squeeze in 2 more workers per tile with dirty? And you got them to behave with rail-to-subway stations? Good stuff.
Are all your residential and commercial zones low land value, high density? That’s the best for max pop. I assume they’re all historical?
Delving a little deeper we find that the author of this city, Imperar, is heavily invested in Click to Pay schemes and blogging their attempt to make a million dollars online through . A scan through their blog “Imperar’s Millionaire Experiment; Using the Scientific Method to Maximizing Passive Online Income Streams” reveals someone that is concentrated on the task of optimising systems for gain no matter how minute the return on an investment. It makes sense that a mind honed to the task of optimising repetitive tasks would see the challenge of finishing SimCity as an achievable goal.
Following are some highlights from the Magnasanti’s development:
Pocket park with duelling Ferris Wheels:
Casino district on the precipice:
“Micromanagement for Absolute Perfection”
“Magnasanti has ZERO Abandoned Buildings”
“100% of All Zoned Structures are Historical”
“The Superior 12x12 Grid Employed in Magnasanti Cannot be Beaten >:]”
“City form influenced by the ‘Kowloon Walled City’.”
The Fire Department is an opt-in emergency service in Obion County, Tennessee. If residents of the county want fire protection, they must pay an annual fee. Recently, the Canick family watched their house burn to the ground with fire fighters standing alongside them doing nothing to stop the blaze because they had not paid their fees. When the fire spread to a neighbours house, who had paid their dues, the fire fighters stepped in to put out that fire.
Recently, however, scientists have come to suspect that urban forests have thrived not despite their urban environment but because of it. “The old idea was that urban areas are not ecologically interesting or don’t have ecological processes, and that’s false,” says Richard Pouyat, who studies urban forests for the U.S. Forest Service. “The difference is, it’s been altered.” And altering the natural landscape isn’t always a bad thing.
Dan Hill visits Finlandia and finds a couple of intriguing ‘benign errors’ on the building. Firstly, that the subtle bowing of the marble panels on the facade is in fact a defect resulting from the extreme weather differential in Helsinki, a ‘mistake’ that the building is all the better for. And secondly, that seen across Lake Töölönlahti from a certain position, Finlandia morphs into the tower of a distant museum forming a odd hybrid of the two, that seems strangely purposeful.
Note - must go to Finland soon.