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Karl Jaeger

Linear Pedestrian Cities

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Sustainable Living

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21 Apr 2010

Linear Pedestrianised Cities

One possibly useful and good design of a sustainable city is to create a city which consists of smaller units, or shall we say urban villages, which are strung out in a linear sequence. Here the key is to link these urban villages, say 6 of them for example, which are in a fairly linear path, with an electric transit system. In this way the totality of the populations of the 6 villages become the population of the city or town. Specific sizes of villages is flexible, some villages may be larger than others.

One ideal procedure may be that the linear city is located in a pleasant, relatively natural and undisturbed site. One might even be strung out through an existing State Park. The key factor here is that the residents of the Linear Pedestrianised City can have easy access to ‘nature’ by simply walking out of their village into the surrounding green environment.

Another potential benefit of the Linear Pedestrianised City design is that it might be created as a link between two already existing sites. It might link an already existing town to a beach or a nearby lake or even a mountainside. Or it might create a new link between two existing towns. In this way the linear transit system which connects the Linear Pedestrianised City’s villages could also serve the residents of the existing town who may wish to go to the beach or lake without needing to use a car. Naturally this can generate some income for the Linear Pedestrianised City as others pay to use the transit system. Ideally the residents of the Linear Pedestrianised Cities themselves might have free use of their transit system, the cost being covered by an annual resident’s fee. This will eliminate the need for money handling, etc.

A further consideration may be the possibility of the Linear Pedestrianised City to grow in size. Here there may be two ideals. One is that there shall be no growth. This is a sustainable approach to a planet with an unchanging population. This means that there would be minimal disruption of the intactness and tranquillity of the urban villages. No one wants to live next to a building site.

A second possibility might be for growth to take place via the creation and addition of a new village. This might be a spur off an existing village, etc. The advantage of this procedure is that all construction noise and disruption can have minimal effect on the existing villages.

Another plus to not disrupting or altering an existing village may be the protection of the initial architectural beauty and integrity and coherence of each village. Each village might have a specific, identified, master architect. In this way a Linear Pedestrianised City with 6 or 7 or 8 villages could become a showcase for the creativity of their master architects and indeed the villages could be quite different from one another with regard to the visual style and use of materials, etc. In this way the Linear Pedestrianised City might become an interesting place to visit for people interested in architecture and urban design.

Karl Jaeger, the co-founder of Our Future Planet, actually spent three years designing a Linear Pedestrianised City to help link San Luis Obispo, California, to its sandy Pacific Ocean beaches nearby. This Linear Pedestrianised City project had 8,000 acres of beautiful Tuscany-like land including extensive sandy beaches. The land was composed of five large cattle ranches. Ben Thompson, then head of Harvard University’s School of Architecture, agreed to be the coordinating architect who would select the 6 village architects and help them coordinate so as to create a town with the appropriate diverse ingredients of the overall town.

Unfortunately the Pacific Gas & Electric Company acquired the land adjacent to build five nuclear power plants. Jaeger did not accept the Atomic Energy Commission’s assurance that the nuclear plants would be ‘earthquake-proof’ (as the San Andreas earthquake line runs along the coast of California). Jaeger left the project and moved to Bath, England, his idea of the most ideal English-speaking town, where he builds nothing. He and OFP would be happy to help others design and create Linear Pedestrianised Cities anywhere on our planet.

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