development types as biomes

Just been pondering the idea that cities and development have cliques of symbiotes. Groups of developments work together to push their needs. For example, financial sector buildings tend to crowd together because they share the same employees (meaning that trying to open a head office out of town would result in a shortage of skilled workers).

Let's make up some biomes for cities (citomes?):

US suburbia

An easy starting point because it has received so much press. Consists of loopy streets bounded in squares of wide, fast moving cars. As a result most journeys are by car. Shops are highly car oriented (often having no pedestrian access other than via multistorey car parks), sometimes even drive through only.

Due to the abundance of cheap oil and massive gov't subsidies, this citome has been very successful in the US. At least in Fort Collins some effort was made to link the endless cul-de-sacs with footpaths.

US urbia

We live roughly in urbia here in silicon valley. We can live comfortably without a car because there are a plethora of smaller shops within walking and riding distance. Pubs and Cafés do very well, not so sure about restaurants. More specialty stores such as high end audio and wedding shoes.

In undamaged US urbia, grid streets are common (such as the area around Colorado State University in Fort Collins shown below). Here in Campbell they built a honking great freeway through the middle of town, and broke much of the area into a tree structure. I predict that one day the freeway will be breached as people move from cars to bikes and foot for most journeys.

German suburbia

I lived for a while in East Berlin, there we have clusters of transit centred housing, with a clearly ancient road structure, people tended to live in large houses divided into multiple families. Density is higher than traditional US suburbia, but in return there is much more public space. People seem to walk and ride a lot more than in the US. Furthermore, there are woodlands surrounding the housing, managed for wood, but open to the public.

German urbia

Urbia, on the other hand consists of tight row/terrace houses with shops on the ground floor and up to 4 floors above with apartments. There don't seem to be many large stores, even supermarkets are restrained in their size (perhaps explaining the success of Aldi, with its mostly single brand approach). Lots of street food vendors (mostly selling things on a stick). Often with trams. A form I particularly like is where people have built up, but enclosed gardens for food production (or zen meditation). The picture below is a small town in Western Germany. Noteworthy is the fact that the town has a very clear boundary, moving into farmland suddenly. Thus you can ride to the countryside in 15 minutes.

In general, the most potent consumer wins (hence weeds) in ecology, until it is hit with a crash (development of a parasite, change in medium term climate, more potent consumer comes along).




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