Opinion: Oil Prince's "100% Renewable Energy" Linear City Is A Joke

And before you even start with "why's it stupid though???" or if you're send here to read by an admin, the linear city idea has been toyed with and thrown out before. 

Way back in 1882, actually. 

Back in them times, a Spanish engineer named Don Arturo Soria y Mata was sick of all these regular cities spreading where they dang well felt like. 

And he came up with the idea of, well, exactly what a linear city sounds like. 

 

 

The idea was to turn Madrid into a "more human city, a city which was more closer to nature," with controlled city expansion that joins one growing city to the next in a controlled way, instead of a wild sprawl. 

The city would consist of sectors running parallel to a river and allowing the dominant wind of the region to blow from the residential area to the industrial to carry away pollution. 

The sectors included:

  1. a purely segregated zone for railway lines
  2. a zone of production and communal enterprises, with related scientific, technical and educational institutions
  3. a residential zone, including a band of social institutions, a band of residential buildings and a "children's band"
  4. a park zone
  5. an agricultural zone with gardens and state-run farms (hello comrade!)

He devised a plan for an entire city to be as straight as an arrow with small plots on each side and farming land behind them for each household to be more sustainable. Even going as far as creating a company to back the idea and put it into effect outside Madrid. 

And what's more, the town became a real place, a wide boulevarde with residents that's still there today (except the line didn't last and became just another neighbourhood engulfed by Madrid's expansion.)

But is this a sign that it could and should happen again?

 

The Ciudad Lineal of Madrid

 

It did.

A few times in fact. 

In Russia, England, the United States, Brazil, Antwerp and most likely more that we haven't heard of. In each case, the linear city was consumed by the expanding metropolis around it. 

It pops up in sci-fi novels dating back years, most notable in Ernest Callenbach's "Ecotopia".

But Arturo's city failed for a number of reasons, some external factors, many were not.

Apart from World War 1 and Arturo dying along with the enthusiasm to keep the concept going, the city needed a high density population. But, by design, the city only allows one family unit per plot with their lavish orchard.

The population density also makes the infrastructure feasible.
Think about the cost of building and maintaining the infrastructure and the transit system for just one family per block.

It's a contradiction.

There are cities that are more linear on Earth and they are holding their own, like Munich. But they have people packed one on top of the other in tiny apartments. 

The other crushing blow to Arturo's linear city was simply built around because there were no zoning regulations. At all. 

Thankfully - sort of - Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman's idea of a linear city has addressed some of the major concerns. 

But...

With almost complete insanity.

The 170km long city will be called "The Line".

Oooooooooo...

 

 

Similar to Arturo's linear city, Bin Salman has the best of intentions for his city.

Let's forget that his country is responsible for 12,000,000 barrels of oil a day, or slave labour still exists, or accusations of murdering a journalist that spoke out against an oppressive regime, shall we.

His 1 million strong population city, promises to have 30% less demand on infrastructure, AI piloted public transport, and be entirely run on renewable energy...

Of course that's after they dig a stupidly long trench in the desert and disrupt the local environment.

The Line is part of Bin Salman's NEOM, an artificial city in the Saudi desert that was meant to have robot dinosaurs and a man made moon. But at this point we think the consulting firms are selling Bin Salman ideas and playing into his ego as a world changing figurehead. 

Case in point, a *fact* sheet released by NEOM states, "THE LINE is a never-before-sen approach to urbanisation," which if you read the first part of this article, you'll know is incorrect several times over.

"It is a model of urban design and livability in harmony with nature for the 21st century and beyond."

But we've done a fair bit of nay-saying without why.

So let's go.

 

Is THE LINE Feasible?

Image: NEOM

 

As per the NEOM, The Line will apparently be:

  1. 170 km long and cut through the Saudi desert
  2. It will run entirely on renewable energy
  3. It will take 20 minutes to go from one end of The Line to the other
  4. Entirely bereft of cars, public transport only

And let's just stop right there.

That means 170 km in 20 minutes on public transport.

The only way a public transport system is doing that is if a type of Hyperloop is invented and implemented. To clarify, the latest Hyperloop test did nothing of the sort, not that distance anyway. And especially not with any AI...

The idea of having no cars or roads is the most fanciful.

Bin Salman attests that cars, traffic and traditional cities play into convenience for the vehicle and not the human. Afterall, cars are creating pollution and are responsible for hitting people sometimes. According to Bin Salman, texting while driving, drunk drivers, sleep exhaustion and the list goes on are not to blame for accidents, but cities...

The actual core issue with predictable yet unpredictable sprawling of cities is governance and the interests of land owners and corporations over the good of the city itself.

Like - it must be said - Bin Salman.

But, thankfully, the good folks from The Line are here to relieve the overpaid and under delivering town planners. More so if you believe that anything you need will be within a five-minute walking distance from your home. Which is still in a scorching desert - unless the AI drivers on public transport moonlight as personal fanners or the artificial moon itself is constantly eclipsing the sun to cool off The Line...

 

Ahoy there! It's me Clintern. We just got in our lanyards to keep your keys safe, cracking a stubby or staying hygienic with a stylus/door opening hook combo.
Can't be too careful!
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Are you pro line or no line?
Let us know in comments and share with a mate to spread ARSE.
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