The Circle City Concept

    Circle City is a city planning concept in which efficient mass transportation completely eliminates the need for cars and most roads. Housing is arranged separately from most business and industrial facilities but with convenient access to a variety of safe and efficient transportation options. The template for Circle City consists of a transportation circle or oval inside of which is single unit housing, and outside of which is shopping, agriculture, business, and industry, in roughly that order. Traffic on the circular loop is one way, and it may consist of a sunken road for cars, a light rail system, covered walkways and bicycle paths, all linked to open paths to individual homes. The shape of the loop need not be a circle - it could conform to the natural landscape around a valley, fo example. The length of the loop is proportional to the number of residents with a 20 kilometer radius being sufficient for about 100-200,000 residents. Expansion to a large outer loop can accomodate further growth.

    The light rail system runs one way, clockwise, and would be visible from all parts of the city, depending on terrain and weather. Advantage would be taken of the hills such that the train could brake on the uphills and accelerate downhill, much like a roller coaster. Quiet operation is a much better key to quality service than speed, and such a system would have such low overall energy consumption that it could, and should, be free.

    A sunken and partly covered road for cars can be provided, but the cars would be limited to driving this road only. They would be parked along the sides of the road and anyone would take whatever model was available. Such a system of free cars would require 90% less cars than our current system. Car maintenance would be part of road maintenance. No keys needed, no car theft, no car payments, no car insurance needed, no head-on collisions.

    Covered walking and bicycle paths are an essential part of efficient mass transportation in Circle City. The loop will include solidly built extra-wide, covered paths suitable for walking, jogging, bicycling, roller blading, etc. More lightly covered, narrower paths will lead to the loop from each domicile or business. All-weather biking will be possible, and bikes will line the paths wherever they are left, free for use. No chains, no locks, no fees, no problem riding to work every day. Daily exercise could, and should, become part of everyone's life.

    Housing extends inside the Circle City loop about 2-4 kilometers, and could be roughly and naturally arranged in a honeycomb or hexagonal matrix since there would be no need for straight line roads. Paths would wind in-between. Single-unit housing is, of course, the most desirable but can be assigned in terms of availability only. Apartments could be included close to the loop, however, and on the outside of the loop.

    Inside the single unit housing loop is a massive park in which nature is left virtually undisturbed, and which is open to everyone. Some limited entertainment facilities like open theaters and bandstands could exist within this area. It would be completely off-limits to any vehicles, except for emergency vehicles. Being inside a closed loop there is no chance of children getting lost and the park presents a shortcut for some intercity travellers. If the city is corporate property, then the park can be completely surrounded with cameras, accessible to all network connections in the various homes and apartments. Parents could watch their children playing in the park on remote terminals and there would be no fear of crime. Individual GPS units, coupled to cell phones, would complete the minimal security arrangements.

    Building Circle City

    As explained previously, city planning is essential to the development of economic housing. Urban areas today are poorly and haphazardly designed in ways that are vehicle-friendly but pedestrian-unfriendly. The reverse should be true cities must be designed for people first and not corporations first. Traffic must be controlled in intelligent ways, but the true solution lies in two alternatives 1) Walking distance access to all essential services, and 2) Convenient, clean, and quiet, mass transportation. The Circle City concept exemplifies both principles by constraining traffic to a single loop, and carefully arranging housing and facilities to minimize the time and energy spent traveling and commuting. Construction must begin with a circular, oval, or other irregularly shaped single loop rooad. Initially it may be a dirt road with cars and trucks, but as construction of houses and covered pathways progresses, the cars must be eliminated in favor of light rail, and/or a fully or partly underground closed loop road for car traffic. Light rail, efficient, quiet, and clean, is to be preferred above all, but it should be integrated into a covered path system for manual transportation methods. Ideally there would be both indoor bike paths and outdoor paths available.

    The power and energy systems in Circle City can be dealt with by designing the entire city to be energy-efficient. All heating should be supplied by a central plant, integrated into the traffic loop. All hot water, cold water, electricity, and other utilities could be supplied by a co-generation plant. The homes become free of boilers, water tanks, pumps, basements and their inherent inefficiencies and costs. Each home will have radiant underfloor heating, the most comfortable, energy efficient, and esthetically pleasing type of heating available. Cost-effective solar energy and energy-recovery systems will be used where appropriate. Cooling will be provided by the cold water system and an efficient air distribution system. Wind energy should be a focus of continued construction and it is possible that in some areas wind energy may be able to provide all of the electrical needs of the city, especially as the city will be extremely energy efficient overall.

    Building construction will be primarily concrete, steel, brick, glass, rammed earth, and other such inflammable and sturdy materials. The use of wood will be minimized and no fire hazards will be created by excessive use of wood. Construction must be millenial, that is, it must be built to last a millenium or more. Heavy stone, concrete, and earth construction would be necessary to make all homes impervious to tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc. None of this is beyond current construction technology - it's a matter of will. Heavy construction at the housing level translates into even heavier construction at the multistory and industrial levels. All such facilities must be built to last, especially as in an anticapitalist economy, all businesses would operate more or less in steady state conditions, with completely stable markets for goods and jobs. Never a need to tear down a good building.

    One of the problems with new housing construction is that houses are built so poorly and cheaply today that more health problems are caused than should otherwise be the case. These houses are built for point-of-sale profit and much of the cost pays for meretricious ornamentation instead of basic structural solidity and lasting functionality. New housing needs to be constructed that will provide spacious, comfortable, energy-efficiency units that can withstand tornadoes and storm damage for one hundred years or more. Over time, such continuous construction of new homes will provide economic prosperity, employment, and increased production of all essential products. Market stability will be multiplied by the considerable inertia of high-quality housing construction, along with a reduction of health and social problems. Once proper housing has been provided for every person in the community, the level of effort will drop since only new residents will need new housing. Human resources can then be devoted to other pressing problems such as disease and education.

    Outside the loop, beyond the markets, should be a clear and open area for agriculture. A mixture of private and corporate farms would be set up to provide everyone's needs. Corporate farms can provide mass production of essential foods and goods, while private farms could produce the specialties that everyone may want. It is possible in this geometry to provide a fleet of tractors that circle the farmland loop and take care of all the plowing and planting. The independent farmers would get their land plowed, but they would choose what to plant, if anything. Special economic arrangements would allow these independent farmers to grow what they pleased and to barter it for their labor hours as they pleased. One purpose the independent farms might serve is to provide meat to meateaters. Meat is hardly an essential food group, and it is not economic for profitless farms and industries to produce compared to vegetables and fruits, but no doubt some will be unable to live without meat for psychological reasons. They can be accomodated by the independent farmers, with whom they can barter. Likewise things like tobacco will have no economic value in an anticapitalist society, yet some will persist in such habits even when the advertisements are all gone. Everyone can be accomodated in a truly free market system.

    Geting it all started is no more problematic than getting any kind of construction done. Some investment in materials and energy costs will be needed, after which human labor will be all the capital that is needed. Philanthropy is one way to kick start a continually growing process like this, as is accepting funds from intended residents. Taking out a loan is probably the worst way to go, since it immediately puts the corporation in debt from interest payments, but it could also work. Under ideal conditions, the building materials will be available locally, such as good quality building stone, sand, some lumber, etc. The first workers may have to be stonecutters and make building blocks until the economy generates enough food, shelter, and other business to finance heavier construction equipment. Huge Roman arches can be built from stone alone, although mortar helps, and this may be an optimum design approach to gargantuan structures, including housing, stadiums, and the enclosed traffic loop. Geodesic construction with pre-cut stone blocks is another design option.

    A project like this could immediately require some ten thousand workers, distributed between housing construction, agriculture, and other basics. Tents, trailers, and existing wooden homes might serve temporarily until people can be moved into suitable stone and concrete houses. One option is to focus on the covered loop, which could provide interim housing. Basically, if you could assemble 10,000 willing people who could bring their tools and feed themselves for the first year, you could begin building a city on this model. In the second year agriculture would provide 100% of the food needs of the workers, and even if it meant just rice and beans, no one would starve, and the variety of food and amenities would increase exponentially over time. The process is self-accelerating, if unconstrained, and increased population would mean increased construction. There would be no unemployment, although weekly hours might ultimately decrease to perhaps 20 or less as the bulk of the construction is completed. At that point, the people could build pyramids again if they wanted to, or go to Mars and build another city.

    (Under Construction -- MORE LATER)


since October 2006
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