Triton: R. B. Fuller’s Floating Tetrahedronal City

“The author’s city of the future consists of three triangular walls of 5000 living units apiece, the walls and base forming a tetrahedron; each unit faces the sky over a spacious terrace. The large cutaway drawing shows a huge public garden at the bottom of the interior of the superbuilding, which the sun pierces through broad openings at every 50th floor. Its transport system (in red) includes funicular as well as interior vertical and horizontal units. Though shown here on land, the city also can float. A drawing of the 200-story city superimposed on a photo of the outskirts of Tokyo vies for attention with Mount Fuji. The lowermost figure in the small cutaway drawing is at the back of the downstairs level of his duplex. Seven stories above him is a section of one of the three city centers that rim the structure. Here a transport system has a terminus at a community park, complete with lagoon, palms and shipping center in geodesic domes. Offices and maintenance facilities (in brown) line the transport tracks.”

—City of the Future by Buckminster Fuller in Playboy Magazine, January 1968.


In the 1960s, Japanese denizen, Matsutaro Shoriki (the father of professional baseball and nuclear power in Japan) commissioned a floating city from American architect, R. Buckminster Fuller (1895 – 1983). Fuller accepted and the project was dubbed Triton City and was to be a tetrahedronal, anchored floating, offshore residential structure, one fourth of a square mile, capable of housing 5000+ tenants that would be “resistant to tsunamis,” and “desalinate the very water that it would float in,” which would be located in Tokyo Bay. The city would be composed of hollow, box-sectioned, reinforced concrete which would provide buoyancy whilst the sheer size of the construct afforded it stability even in turbulent waters. The project was to be a proof of concept for a larger, pre-existing Fuller design dubbed Tetrahedron City, which was similar to Triton, save for its size (it was to be 200 stories tall and two miles from side to side) with a less jagged facade.

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Triton City (1967). Richard Buckminster Fuller.
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Tetrahedron City, project for Yomiuriland, Japan (1968). Richard Buckminster Fuller & Shoji Sadao.

Shoriki died in 1966 after commissioning Tetrahedron City, but the modular test initiative of the project, Triton, lived on through the interest of the United States Department of Urban Development. Both the United States Navy’s Bureau of Ships and Bureau of Yards and Docks gave the project the green light. After the navy’s approval of the design, the City of Baltimore petitioned to have Triton built in Chesapeake Bay, a move which would prove fruitless, as protracted beauracratic complications caused the project to stall which in turn eventually caused Fuller to give up on the project.

There are three principal kinds of conceptual design, those: fictive-for-fiction (not possible in principal — ie. a perpetual motion machine), practicable-for-prospective (possible in theory, untenable at present — ie. a dyson sphere) and practicable-for-practice (presently possible — i.e. a add-on to a contemporary house).

Triton City was the latter and it was for this reason the project remains unique, for despite its seeming grandiosity and fantasticality, it was, and still remains, a imminently feasible (albeit costly and materially intensive) design.

Only a model and book detailing Fuller’s plan for the floating, unpatented, residential area remain of the Triton project.

The fact that Triton was never built, does not, however, mean that Shoriki and Fuller’s work was futile, indeed, quite the opposite, as today it serves as a valuable source of inspiration for seastead designers the world over. Such structures hold considerable promise in their potential to banish for a considerable length of time, the hyperbolic cries of overpopulation. As the surface of Earth is roughly 71% (rounded up) water and only 29% land and the majority of the human population (as of this writing) is concentrated upon approximately but 10% of that total landmass, it is objectively false to claim that the planet, as such, is ‘overpopulated.’ Yet, regardless of population concerns, the overriding object of design should be a increase in habitability precisely because such a increase in his powers is also a increase in survivability. Man is durable as a largely land-locked species and shall thus witness his durability increase whence he is equally able to live upon and under the whole depth and breadth of the ocean-vast.


Sources

  1. Atelier Marko Brajovik. (2010) Buckminster Fuller — Triton Floating City. Bubuia: The Floating Institute; Floating Architecture Research Network.
  2. Matt Shaw. (2016) Review: Parrish Art Museum’s “Radical Seafaring” Catalogue (How Art & Architecture Hit The Water in the 1960s & Beyond). The Architects Newspaper.
  3. NBC News. This Floating City Concept Is One Way To Cope With Climate Change. KSBY-6.
  4. nunno Koglek à. (2013) Triton City – the First Utopian Seastead. Utopicus.
  5. R. Buckminster Fuller. (1982) Critical Path. St. Martin’s Press.
  6. R. Buckminster Fuller. (1968) City of the Future. Playboy Magazine (Vol. 15, No.1, January).
  7. Tom Metcalfe. (2017) World’s First Floating Village To Breath New Life Into Old Dream. NBC News.
  8. Trevor Blake. (2009) The Lost Inventions of Buckminster Fuller (Part 3 of 3). Synchronofile.

‘Smart Cities’ & Architectural Character

Smart city discourse is increasingly prevalent and increasingly influential, thus, a interrogation into the design philosophy undergirding the concept (and its spin-offs) can prove instructive.

IOT For All defines smart cities (also referred to as intelligent cities or digital cities) as “hubs that route IoT-produced data through public-private partnerships to solve real problems.” Put another way, a smart/intelligent/digital city is a urban human settlement that integrates IoT¹ into its pre-existing infrastructure (of roads, streetlights, etc) so as to increase asset stability (security, maintenance) and general efficiency (of energy, traffic movement, etc).

Thus, what principally distinguishes a smart city from a legacy city, is the amount of information acquisition and processing apparatuses it contains.

To say that these new arrangements are ‘smart’ then, is rather like declaring that sticking more eyes onto a fish makes it smarter — its true, insofar as intelligence is reduced to route data acquisition (which is a rather one-dimensional reconfiguration which neglects a number of obvious aspects of intelligence).

What smart cities have in common with every other type of city is their basic design, which means that they have all the same strengths and weaknesses (in relation to the welfare of their inhabitants) of a conventional city with the added trade-off of mismanagement of the new sensor apparatus (spying, data theft, inability to process data, etc) / swifter data processing via the new apparatus (swifter navigation, better energy utilization, de-incentivization of crime, etc).

What smart city discourse neglects is architectural character — the artistic dimensions of dense urban living; the symbols and structures through which collective desire is channeled and expressed from whose extollation communal ties are bound and reinforced. Architectural character is the continuity between the collective desire of the people and their realization and willful externalization of it, such that it forms the loci by which the people may understand themselves as such.

The reformulation of architectural discourse is a rather pressing issue, as the UN estimates that by 2050, 68% of the world’s total population will live in urban areas (their population projections have come under scrutiny by global demographers for being too inflationary, but even if this is the case, the number of future urban dwellers will certainly swell considerably within the century). As of this writing, urban regions possess the majority of the world’s wealth and account for roughly two-thirds of total global power consumption. Reducing energy consumption, bolstering energy production, utilization and distribution and easing congestion are all important goals, but in the pursuit of these goals, designers should not neglect the artistic and communal qualities which elevate and magnify the dreaming populace and, through explication, crystallize their rattling fervor in the melded folds of concrete and steel.


Notes

  • ¹The internet of things (IoT) is shorthand for the expansion of internet connectivity into mundane objects, allowing for the semi-automation of homes and businesses.

Sources

  1. Ann Bosche et al. (2018) To Grow The Internet Of Things, Improve Security. Forbes.
  2. Elizabeth Woyke. (2018) A Smarter Smart City. MIT Technology Review.
  3. Gene Wes Keat. (1910) From Call Building To Oakland City Hall In 5 Minutes. San Francisco Call, Vol. 107, Number 138, April 17.
  4. Guest Writer. (2019) What Makes a Smart City in 2019. IoT For All.
  5. James Brasuell. (2015) The Early History Of The ‘Smart Cities’ Movement — In 1974 Los Angeles. Planetizen.
  6. Mark Vallianatos. (2015) Uncovering the Early History of “Big Data” and the “Smart City” in Los Angeles. Boom California.
  7. Matt Novak. (2011) Zipping From San Francisco To Oakland In 5 Minutes. Smithsonian.

O.R.C.A.

The creature made a squealing sound that faintly reminded Korvus of a whale. He drew back from the reinforced glass case in which it resided and shot Elana a concerned expression. She chuckled and took a step towards the squirming mass of carbon, cilia slowly working up the side of the see-through cage, grasping towards the young woman.

“The ORCA might look intimating, but its really quite harmless.”

“ORCA?”

“Short for Oblong Ranging Cilia’d Alien. I’m not the one who comes up with the designations, mind you.”

The creature gave some pulsing clicks and jiggled like a mass of sentient jell-o.

“It also sounds like an orca, don’t you think?”

“Indeed. But… what is it?”

“We aren’t entirely sure. SecDef sweepers found it in Eidos Krios’ compound. Likely the by-product of one of his experiments.”

“Who?”

“You haven’t heard of him?”

“I don’t really keep up with the news.”

“Clearly. That building project of yours must be keeping you busy.”

“Yes. I’ve had considerable trouble acquiring the permits.”

“For the cave-house?”

Korvus sighed and shook his head slightly, “Cave-house… that makes it sound so primitive.”

“But it is a cave house.”

“It isn’t, though you can call it what you like. But to answer your question, yes. I couldn’t get permission from the Zoning Commission to build it. Toxic tailings from the mining operations. Whole area is poisonous, and worse, sodden. Needs to be cleaned up before they’ll let anyone down there but no one is willing to put the time and resources into doing so.”

“No one but you.”

“I only have the time. Not the resources.”

They both turned suddenly around as the massive blob of jelly gave a low moan, its cilia spinning up and down its length with great agitation.

“Say, Elana… if this ‘ORCA’ is so harmless, why is it in a cage?”

“Its metabolism is extremely high; its nearly always hungry. No, don’t worry, like I said, its harmless — to us — it only eats inorganic material. I can’t figure out why. No one can. Not even Jensen. When the extraction team first encountered it they were startled and opened fire. Was completely unaffected, the bullets penetrated its outer membrane and then just sort of settled inside it. Within two hours they were beginning to disintegrate. Within a day the bullets were pulled deeper into its body and within two, they were gone. It ate everything, plates, forks, shoes, pillows, the lab equipment. Its mass grew considerably, but there was no by-product. Anyways, Jensen said we can’t have it eating up the lab, told me that the board were going to terminate it, said it wasn’t worth the trouble…”

“Poor fella.”

“Yeah. I wish there were something I could do.”

Korvus took a step forward and pressed his hand to the glass whereupon the creature raised itself up and gave a few clicks and shimmied.

“Perhaps there is.”

§

The mine cleaners were as astounded by the creatures presence as the board was by its lack thereof. It sat in the tailing pool, now empty, wriggling its cilia up into the air, clicking and jiggling.

Korvus was contacted shortly thereafter; the project had been given the greenlight, construction on the underground residential area could begin at once.

On The Prospects of Vertical Hay Farming

§00. Introduction

Hay farming is a massive and important industry. The advent of vertical farm architecture has sparked numerous conversations on prospective redesigns of the way farming is done, but these conversations tend to focus on plants which are easily grown and harvested indoors, such as tomatoes and lettuce, but not on hay, which is understandable given that the hay-making process itself presents a number of challenges to vertical integration; however, there are a number of ways that the challenges presented by vertical hay integration (namely harvesting) may be overcome.

The possibility of vertical hay farming opens up a considerable number of opportunities and presents potential solutions to a number of problems endemic to traditional pasture and baling operations. Not only would vertical hay farming offer a more compact and modular model for the agricultural niche, it would also allow for a marked increase in the quality of the hay produced.

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Hay baler schema.

§01. Basic design concepts for practical VHF implementation

Hay has traditionally been farmed on fields, however, it is also possible to grow hay via a vertical-stack arrangement (modular or otherwise), similar to those arrangements conceptually (or actually) deployed in the discourse on general vertical farming. However, the mechanical intensity and complexity of the harvesting process engender a number of complications to vertical stack integration into existing structures (such as skyscrapers, urban housing tenements or shipping containers). Consequently, it is preferable, in the construction of a vertical hay farm (VHF) to build the facility anew or thoroughly renovate it.

Hay will be grown upon modular vertical stacks […]

_____ 

_____

_____

[…] with each stack having a bed for grass-planting overtop of which will run a foldable mechanical baler for harvesting with a catch either following or directly attached (depending on the specifications of the baler itself). The balers and catchers would run on a rail-line and be designed so as to slide out of the attendant hay-layer of the stack so as to easily extract the bales (round, square, rectangular or otherwise). Alternatively, if whatever catch-mechanism was used to catch the dispatched and compressed bales was extractable, then the baler itself need not be easily detached from its attendant layer in the stack, as, for the purposes of bale acquisition, only the catch-mechanism needs to be removable/stack-detachable. Baling twine (or other materials) can be feed into the balers, either through the rail-line or from aperture on the layer above the mechanism.

[twine + power system]

[stack layer]

[stack aperture]

[rail-line affixed baler] ⇒ [hay] ⇒ [process] ⇒ [bale] ⇒ [catch] ⇒ [horizontal removal from rail-line] ⇒ [bale extraction + storage] ⇒ [utilization]

[repeat process for all attendant vertical layers]


§02. Benefits

One of the greatest benefits of vertical hay farm would be the ability to produce year around. Winter is the worst time of year for hay, however, in a VHF the conditions are controllable and can be modulated for peak growth, regardless of the time of year. Secondarily, due to the increased control over the environment within the VHF, plants will always (baring accidents or human error) be able to be harvested at prime maturity and without the normal problems entailed by the unpredictability of the weather (this is important for numerous reasons, chiefly that weather is the number one challenge to hay farmers, as hay-grass is very weather-sensitive; if too dry, the hay will be stunted; if too wet, the hay will mold). In addition to the aforementioned boons, VHF could also greatly reduce the distance, machinery and manpower (and thus costs) of transporting the product to customers/users by simply building them around or in the areas with high hay demand where it was previously unfeasible, impractical, cost-prohibitive, or impossible before.

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Le Corbusier‘s Immeubles-Villas (1922). A forerunner to contemporary vertical farm architecture.

Synnefocracy_Abstract.2

“I want to tame the winds and keep them on a leash… I want a pack of winds, fleet-footed hounds, to hunt the puffed-up, whiskery clouds.” ‒ F.T. Marinetti.

♦ ♦ ♦

Cartography of the Cloud

 It would be pointless to discuss synnefocracy in any further depth without first defining what The Cloud actually is. Briskly, The Cloud is both a colorful placeholder for a particular modular information arrangement utilizing the internet and a design philosophy. Clouds always use the internet, but are not synonymous with it. The metaphor illustrates informational exchange and storage that is not principally mediated through locally based hardware systems, but rather ones wherein hardware is utilized locally, but accessed remotely. The Cloud is what allows one to begin watching a film on one’s laptop and seamlessly finish watching on one’s tablet. It is what allows one daily access to an email without ever having to consider the maintenance of the hardware upon which the data in the email account is stored. The more independent and modular one’s software becomes from its hardware, the more ‘cloud-like’ that software is. It is not that The Cloud is merely the software, but that the storage size, speed and modularity are all aspects of the system-genre’s seemingly ephemeral nature. Utilization of a computer system rather than a single computer increases efficiency (and thus demands modularity) creating a multi-cascading data slipstream, the full geopolitical effects of which have, up til now, been relatively poorly understood and even more poorly articulated, chronicled and speculated upon, both within popular and academic discourse (and I should add that it is not here my purpose to craft any definitive document upon the topic, but rather to invite a more robust investigation).

Cloud computing architecture offers a number of benefits over traditional computing arrangements, namely in terms of scalability, given that anytime computing power is lacking (for instance, if one had a website that was getting overloaded with traffic), one can simply dip into a accessible cloud and increase one’s server size. Since one never has to actually mess about with any of the physical hardware being utilized to increase computing power, significant time (which would otherwise be spent modulating and setting up servers manually) and money (that would be spent maintaining extra hardware or paying others to maintain it for you) is saved. The fact that one (generally speaking) pays only for the amount of cloud-time one needs for their project also saves money and manpower (in contradistinction to traditional on-premise architecture which would require one to pay for all the hardware necessary, upfront) is another clear benefit.

This combination of speed, durability, flexibility and affordability makes cloud computing a favorite for big businesses and ambitious, tech-savvy startups and, as a consequence, have turned cloud computing itself into a major industry. There are two distinctive types of cloud computing: the deployment model and the service model. In the deployment model there are three sub-categories: public, private and hybrid. The best way of thinking about each model is by conceptualizing vehicular modes of transportation. A bus is accessible to anyone who can pay for the ride; this is analogous to the public cloud wherein you pay only for the resources used and the time spent using them and when one is finished one simply stops paying or, to extend our metaphor, one gets off the bus. Contrarily, a private cloud is akin to a personally owned car, where one pays a large amount of money up-front and must continue paying for the use of the car, however, it is the sole property of the owner who can do with it what he or she will (within the bounds of the law). Lastly, there is the hybrid cloud, which most resembles a taxi, where one wants the private comfort of a personal car, but the low-cost accessibility of a bus.

Some prominent public cloud providers on the market as of this writing include: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, IBM’s Blue Cloud as well as Sun Cloud. Prominent private cloud providers include AWS and VMware.

Cloud service models, when categorized most broadly, break down into three sub-categories: On-premises (Op1), Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Platform as a service (PaaS), and, Software as a service (SaaS).

The impact of cloud computing upon sovereignty, particularly, but not exclusively, of states, is scantly remarked upon, but it is significant and is bound up within the paradigm shift towards globalization, however, it is not synonymous with globalization which is frankly, a rather clumsy term, as it does not specify what, precisely, is being globalized (certainly — within certain timescales, to be defined per polity — some things should not be globalized and others should, this requires considerable unpacking and, as a consequence shall not be expounded upon here).

Given that the internet is crucial for national defense (cyber security, diplomatic back-channels, internal coordination, etc) and that the favored computing architecture (presently – due the previously mentioned benefits) is cloud computing, it is only natural that states would begin gravitating towards public and private cloud-based systems and integrating them into their operations. The problem presented by this operational integration is that, due the technical specificity involved in setting up and maintaining such systems, it is cheaper, more convenient and efficient for a given state to hire-out the job to big tech corporations rather than create the architecture themselves and, in many cases, state actors simply do not know how (because most emerging technologies are created through the private sector).

The more cloud-centric a polity, the greater the power of the cloud architects and managers therein. This is due to several factors, the first and most obvious of which is simply that any sovereign governance structure (SGS) of sufficient size requires a parameterization of data flows for coordination. It is not enough for the central component of an SGS to know and sense, but to ensure that all its subcomponents know what it senses as well (to varying degrees) and to have reliable ways to ensure that what is sensed and processed is delivered thereto; pathways which the SGS itself cannot, by and large, provide nor maintain.

Here enters the burgeoning proto-synnefocratic powers; not seizing power from, but giving more power to, proximal SGSs, and in so-doing, become increasingly indispensable thereto. Important to consider, given that those factions which are best able to control, not just the major data-flows, but the topological substrates upon and through which those flows travel, will be those who ultimately control the largest shares of the system.


1Op is not a common annotation. Utilized for brevity. However, IaaS, PaaS and SaaS are all commonly utilized by those in the IT industry and other attendant fields.

Abyssal Arcology Actualized: The Muraka

The world’s first underwater residence has been completed, its name: The Muraka (meaning ‘coral’ in Dhivehi, the language of the Maldives). The splendid 15 million dollar villa is located in the Maldives (Indian Ocean), as part of the Hilton’s Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort; it is comprised of two levels and situated 16.5 feet below the sea and features panoramic windows that allow guests clear views of the colorful aquatic biota. The abyssal villa was the brain-child of architect, Ahmed Saleem.

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Resting-chamber in The Muraka.

The construct adds a new and rather more literal meaning to the old saying “sleeping with the fishes,” as now you actually can, for $50,000 per night (and that is only BEFORE the addition of taxes). Whilst the price-tag is steep, The Muraka heralds the beginning of a paradigm shift towards more and more under(and over)water domiciles, tailored less to luxury and more to practical living.

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Shark glides by The Muraka.

Notes On Mobile-Platform-Cities

NOTES ON MOBILE PLATFORM CITIES

Defining MPCs

Such a structure [an Arcology1] would take the place of the natural landscape inasmuch as it would constitute the new topography to be dealt with. This man-made topography would differ from the natural topography in the following ways: It would not be a one-surface configuration but a multilevel one. It would be conceived in such a way as to be the carrier of all the elements that make the physical life of the city possible—places and inlets for people, freight, water, power, climate, telephone; places and outlets for people, freight, waste, mail, products, and so forth. It would be a large-dimensioned sheltering device, fractioning three-dimensional space in large and small subspaces, making its own weather and its own cityscape. It would be the major vessel for massive flow of people and things within and toward the outside of the city. It would be the organizing pattern and anchorage for private and public institutions of the city. It would be the focal structure for the complex and ever-changing life of the city. It would be the unmistakable expression of man the maker and the creator. It would be diverse and singular in all of its realizations. Arcology would be surrounded by an uncluttered, open landscape.” — Paolo Soleri, 1969; Arcology: The City In The Image of Man, p. 13.

The need for a new definition of human settlement is apparent now more than ever before in human history. — Logan Bier, 2014; Post-Arcological Human Scale Emergence, p.1.

What do cruise-liners, space-stations and aircraft-carriers have in common?

They are all moving cities.

In contradistinction to the traditional view of a city as a static settlement, we posit the city of the future – whether oriented towards land, air, sea or space – should be designed for maximal mobility to the extent the aforementioned capabilities do not sufficiently impede central functions of the total system (food production and distribution, water collection, filtration, distribution, storage, power generation and dissemination, general comfort of the denizens, etc). To this end we posit the mobile-platform-city. Briefly, a mobile-platform-city will be a city built into a moving apparatus that will be self-contained and self-sustaining. We take as our starting point, the modular structure of the human brain and the crew capacity of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. The brain, not just the human brain, but all brains, are remarkable due the amount of information that is contained within such small, sometimes tiny, folds of flesh. Just as the neuron is the building block of the brain, personal container units, each individuals “house” within the total structure, should be the building blocks of the mobile-platform-city. Given the space needed for just one comfortable human habitat, the size of the total structure will need to be fairly expansive, around the size (or slightly smaller than) a US super carrier, the two largest of which are the Nimitz-class (second largest) and the Gerald Ford-class (largest). Though Nimitz-class aircraft carrier are slightly smaller than Gerald R. Ford-class ships in terms of total size, the crew-carrying capacity of the Nimitz-class (5000+) is presently unmatched by any vessel. Thus, it is easy to image a construct of like size which could be designed for civilian contentment rather than military engagement. However, unlike a aircraft carrier, a mobile-platform-city need not be constrained to only open waters and could instead be fashioned for air, sea or land or some combination thereof. The massive amount of energy which would be required for perpetual flight render any sky-base of aircraft carrier size implausible (at present), however a rolling land-to-sea mobile base of aircraft carrier size is highly practicable.

Benefits of mobile-platform-cities (MPCs) over static settlements (S-Ss) are manifold; chief benefits include terrain adaptability (instead of piecemeal evacuation in the event of a natural disaster, one may simply move the whole MPC), task-bundling (resource shipment lines can be significantly reduced via utilization of the MPC as part of a previously external2 supply chain). Offensive and defensive capabilities of MPCs would also offer several marked benefits over traditional settlements, given that a MPC could operate as a offensive unit itself and offer tactical flexibility in deployment of on-board defensive units (such as air-crafts, tanks, submersibles, troops, etc.). Given the immense spatial demands of even a relatively small MPCs3, evasion of military assault, however, is the principal benefit over S-Ss, as MPC mobility will likely be relatively slow in comparison to state-of-the-art land, sea and air transport, simply due to size. Another significant benefit is the obviation of crippling sanctions by fording international waters, thus circumnavigating territorial sovereignty and the need for overflight authorizations from third party countries. America’s rise to power, much like the British Empire before them, was due in large part to mastery of the seas, thus, it is pertinent to muse upon the tactical advantages of a free-roaming civilization which could potentially establish itself as the world’s premier overseas trade-arbiter.

Remarks on likely lines of opposition

A likely line of opposition towards the very idea of MPCs is that they sound fantastical. The whole history of technological innovation, however, is filled with precisely this kind of uncreative, grim impossibilism. it is important to remember that cities already are mobile, simply not in spatial terms. Rather, modern cities are digitally mobile, with every human being therein incessantly “teleporting” all over the world through the web which itself is fostered by the infrastructure of the city itself. Thus, though the physical infrastructure of the modern city is (generally) static4, the information infrastructure is in ever increasing flux. All major urban areas in the world today (2018) are interconnected through wireless networks, and various other lines of near-instant communication. The total mobilization of the city itself is thus a reasonable continuation of the data revolution wherein the physical components catch-up to the ever-growing digital domain of which they are a indispensable part.

Potential feasibility, types, designs and functions

Jeff Stein, in a 2012 TEDxMission talk entitled The City, 2.0 noted, “No Eco-thinking can ignore density. Crowding, the maker of life.” Stein was invoking the concept of CDM (Complexity, Miniaturization, Duration), remarking upon its often overlooked importance in architectural, specifically urban, design.

Utilization of CDM will be indispensable to the construction of any feasible MPC. As previously mentioned, MPCs already exist (simply not in name) thus, there should be no argument as to the feasibility of MPCs themselves, but rather, the feasibility of certain types of MPCs.

Sources and reference materials for further reading

  1. Arcology: Comments Corpus, Logan Ray Bier (2009-2017).

  2. Nanoarchitecture: A New Species of Architecture, John Johansen, Princeton Architectural Press (2002).

  3. P. Soleri, 1969, Arcology: The City In The Image of Man

  4. Indian Navy seeks EMALS system for second Vikrant-class aircraft carrier, Naval Technology, (May 29, 2013).

  5. On The Prospects Of Inverse Arcology, K. E., Logos (May 5, 2018).

  6. Ready For The 21st Century, All Hands (Magazine of the US Navy).

  7. Time For Mapping, Cartographic Temporalities, Alex Gekker et al. Manchester University Press (2018).

  8. Tekever AR5 Life Ray Evolution Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), Naval Technology.

  9. Vikrant Class, Naval Technology.

1Arcology is a portmanteau of architecture and ecology. See, Soleri, Paolo (1973), The Bridge Between Matter & Spirit is Matter Becoming Spirit.

2Meaning, external to a static settlement, ie. Foreign factory (1) > Cargo ships (2) > Sss (3), whereas with a MPC, steps 2 and 3 can be bundled together, saving a tremendous amount of time and resources and generally reducing population stress through labor reduction.

3Akron, Ohio, in 2017 had a population of 703,505. USS Gerald R. Ford, the largest aircraft carrier in the world – as of 2018 – can harbor 4,550 crew members (ship, air-wing and staff).

4There are some exceptions to stasis in modern cities, such as moving bridges, etc.

The Citta Nuova and the Architecture of War

“Let us overturn monuments, pavements, arcades and flights of steps; let us sink the streets and squares; let us raise the level of the city.”

-Antonio Sant’Elia,  Futurist Manifesto of Architecture.


“I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms.”

-Lebbeus Woods, War and Architecture.


Whilst the name of Antonio Sant’Elia is not widely known, anyone who has ever seen Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), or Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner (1982) has beheld the striking power of his legacy as his imposing and gargantuan, yet highly plausible, architectural drawings inspired the architecturally dense worlds of both films. Elia’s most well known works all come from his Citta Nuova (New City) series which the American experimental architect Lebbeus Woods described as, “perhaps, the most famous and influential [drawings] of the early 20th century.”

se-2b
Antonio Sant’Elia, Air and train station with funicular cableways on three road levels from La Città Nuova, 1914.

Lebbeus Woods is well positioned to critique and build upon the works of Sant’Elia, as he, more than nearly any other contemporary artist, embraced and carried forth the brilliant flame of Futurism which Marinetti first kindled in Italy in 1909 with his incendiary manifesto and which Sant’Elia further crystallized with his astounding architectural drawings and conceptual writings which brim to overflowing with the steel of mind and the light of purpose. Whilst, like most modern men, Woods certainly was not nearly so sanguine about the prospects of war as the Futurists (who glorified it as the hygiene of the world), he certainly understood its nature well, having dedicated many works to the torturous Siege of Sarajevo – the single longest concentrated attack on a capital city in modern history – which Woods witnessed first-hand. In 2011, Woods wrote of the conflict:

For anyone who saw the burning twin towers in Sarajevo, in the summer of 1992, which were attacked by terrorists bent on undermining the morale of the people of that cosmopolitan city, the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, nine years later, with the same goals in mind, came as no great surprise. The fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War had produced a new type of global struggle based not on vast armies clashing in the field, but on small-scale insurgencies attacking the centers of their enemies’ power, disrupting them, and thereby undermining their self-confidence and ability to dominate others. This new type of warfare was called terrorism. Its main weapon is creating fear in the enemy, both government and ordinary citizens, leading not to armistices, treaties, and other official instruments of reconciliation between legally recognized states, but to de facto victories, in which the insurgents hope to win economic or political concessions that strengthen them in their own domain or globally, in the sense that they are ever more feared and hence ever more powerful and influential.

One significant new feature of this new type of conflict is that opposing sides are not drawn along socio-political lines—one communist and one capitalist—as in the Cold War rivalry between two superpowers, but rather along religious ones. This is a throwback to the Middle Ages, and not Modern at all, except in terms of weaponry and techniques of command and control. The conflict now is primarily between Christians and Muslims. The attack on Sarajevo was carried out by a Christian insurgency against a Muslim majority. The attack on the World Trade Center in New York was carried out by a Muslim insurgency against a Christian majority. Both had the goal of degrading a way of life. Both attacks were attacks on the idea of the city itself.”

Woods’ sensitivity to the times, the city and to the cultural zeitgeists which shape it, is a attribution which he closely shared with Sant’Elia who in his Futurist Manifesto of Architecture, wrote:

“No architecture has existed since 1700. A moronic mixture of the most various stylistic elements used to mask the skeletons of modern houses is called modern architecture. The new beauty of cement and iron are profaned by the superimposition of motley decorative incrustations that cannot be justified either by constructive necessity or by our (modern) taste, and whose origins are in Egyptian, Indian or Byzantine antiquity and in that idiotic flowering of stupidity and impotence that took the name of neoclassicism.

These architectonic prostitutions are welcomed in Italy, and rapacious alien ineptitude is passed off as talented invention and as extremely up-to-date architecture. Young Italian architects (those who borrow originality from clandestine and compulsive devouring of art journals) flaunt their talents in the new quarters of our towns, where a hilarious salad of little ogival columns, seventeenth-century foliation, Gothic pointed arches, Egyptian pilasters, rococo scrolls, fifteenth-century cherubs, swollen caryatids, take the place of style in all seriousness, and presumptuously put on monumental airs. The kaleidoscopic appearance and reappearance of forms, the multiplying of machinery, the daily increasing needs imposed by the speed of communications, by the concentration of population, by hygiene, and by a hundred other phenomena of modern life, never cause these self-styled renovators of architecture a moment’s perplexity or hesitation. They persevere obstinately with the rules of Vitruvius, Vignola and Sansovino plus gleanings from any published scrap of information on German architecture that happens to be at hand. Using these, they continue to stamp the image of imbecility on our cities, our cities which should be the immediate and faithful projection of ourselves.”

How sharp and true do his words ring today! And, likely, well shall they ring unto the future. Both Sant’Elia and Woods share in their ruminations on architecture a delicate sensitivity to time and place, to the nature of the city and its shaping by the forces of a hundred thousand different traditions all vying for dominion (and nearly all ignorant or uncaring about meeting the needs of the evolution of human civilization). Sant’Elia, like all of his Futurist brethern, rejected these traditions as a supreme giving-in to decrepitude and decay, and instead opts to turn The City into a majestic symbolic representation of a “projection of ourselves as we are.” Reification of the present without delay! Woods doesn’t entirely agree (nor entirely disagree) as he writes in his piece War and Architecture,

“In going over what I wrote about this work [on Sarajevo] at the time—in 1993—I find it inadequate in its explanation of what inspired the designs, drawings, and models and what I hoped to achieve by making them. No wonder, I say in hindsight, that they were accused of “aestheticizing violence,” and merely being exploitative of a tragic human condition. I failed to put the work in the broader human context that it needed to be understood as proposals for architecture serving rational and needed purposes. I hope to correct—to the extent I can here—this failure.”

Woods is here throwing up a, “I would never aestheticize violence!” as if that were somehow criminal. We should hastily remark that aestheticizing violence is just as laudable (and potentially deplorable) as aestheticizing any other domain of significant human activity. Nevertheless, Woods, in a slightly less politicized context, writes of war:

Architecture and war are not incompatible. Architecture is war. War is architecture. I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms. I am one of millions who do not fit in, who have no home, no family, no doctrine, no firm place to call my own, no known beginning or end, no “sacred and primordial site.” I declare war on all icons and finalities, on all histories that would chain me with my own falseness, my own pitiful fears. I know only moments, and lifetimes that are as moments, and forms that appear with infinite strength, then “melt into air.” I am an architect, a constructor of worlds, a sensualist who worships the flesh, the melody, a silhouette against the darkening sky. I cannot know your name. Nor you can know mine. Tomorrow, we begin together the construction of a city.”

Such vivacity, why Marinetti or Sant’Elia could well have written those words themselves and should surely laud them were they able! One sees here the convergence most starkley between Sant’Elia and Woods, the city is new because the city, to be a proper and well fitted city must always be new. Perfection is anathema for perfection is stagnation and stagnation is death. Thus they war with time and space itself, eternally, in, as Aaron Traywick once said, “The Endless Game.”