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Neo

Roadtown

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Here is an interesting idea that I just read about...it's called Roadtown and the idea is from Edgar Chambless in 1910. It is an interesting concept where you basically turn a skyscraper on its side. Everything would run horizontally instead of vertically. Instead of the restriction of a couple thousand feet, you could make this 'horizontal skyscraper' thousands if not hundreds of thousands of feet in length. A rail system would run underneath the length of the structure and could transport people en masse over long distances, even connecting to other similar structures.

What do you think about this idea and is it viable today?

You can read the book (published in 1910) free on Google Books:

http://books.google.com/books?id=eq4EAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=&f=false

Here is the cover which depicts his vision:

post-1-12602939996116_thumb.png

post-1-12602939996116_thumb.png

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Looks like the Great Wall of China.

I'd feel bad for all the wildlife stuck on either side.

Also, doesn't seem economical to heat/cool something like this.

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The heating/cooling could be geothermal, that would certainly assist with the sustainability aspect and the long-term costs. It is an interesting idea as it would allow for residents to have things like gardens that really isn't doable (aside from a couple of potted tomato plants) when you live in a high-rise unit.

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I remember seeing something like this when i was a kid. it was larger in scale and "proposed" to cover the boston to Philly corridore.

to me its nuts in todays world. the efficiencies gained in some areas are lost in the length of the linear development.

also it assumes people are ok with egalitarianism. I currently live in a town home condo, and I can no longer stand it. my townhome is effectively like this road, but just 11 units long, not 11,000,000

here is the other thing, in say hartford, a far cry from urban utopia, you can walk out of your apartment, and walk a block or 2 and get to a bodega for needed supplies. that bodega serves the surrounding blocks. an area that I will call 4 blocks(the are I am thinking about has elongated blocks). these 2 blocks have 60 buildings that are 3-5 family dwellings, 27 buildings that are 5-20 unit buildings, and 4, 100 unit buildings.

you can walk that 1-2 blocks from any of these 900 housing units and get to this bodega.

in a linear city 900 units in that low rise design (maybe 15-20 feet wide oer unit) would stretch at least 3 miles end to end. so, where do you put the bodega?

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Perhaps the structure could be broken up. This wouldn't be that big of a deal since items like transit, electrical, etc. would be running under street level. At that point though, what makes it any different than row houses I suppose...

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The initial concept for the SUNY University at Buffalo North Campus by Gordon Bunshaft was similar: a mile-long, multi-story building built around a central horizontal elevator corridor and open atrium.

In large campus settings, there's an advantage to having many smaller structures over a megastructure; if a building needs to be replaced, the overall costs will be much smaller relative to the cost of the entire physical plant of the campus, and there is far less disruption to the campus as a whole. Not so with a megastructure. Same thing with maintenance.

Just as there's an economy of scale, there's also an economy of granularity, so to speak.

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