Can you print a megacity in a desert and demand it to return your investment?
“Dimensionality” in complex networks is still an ignored concept in any other discipline which deals with those networks – but physics, the mother of them all.
In city planning for example, governments can aspire to make a metropole of 9 million and expect it to behave like NYC, once it matures. If not necessarily reproducing the same financial or political influence, but at least creating a similar “feel” internally shouldn’t be much to ask?
It is essential to build mega-cities from smaller organic elements: minor cities already near each other.
Is such a simple observation in other, similar, networks something that the policymakers of some trillion-dollar future megacities are unaware of? And do they not need that knowledge when they expect the return for their investment?
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Building new fresh sustainable megacities in uninhabitable feilds sounds like a brilliant idea. The trend has many great promises:
It returns the investment massively through real estate and beyond. It will host the future waves of urbanizing population while built with the state-of-the-art and more sustainable technology. Even better if it is built in a desert where preserving the natural ecosystem is much less vital than say, a rainforest.
But sustaining a megacity – logistically – is not possible without sustaining it culturally. That is the foundation of the city life and for it is necessary to mimic the underlying dimensionality of organic metropoleis – something that should match the metropolis’ magnitude – or else the megacity will never produce the effects of even much smaller cities, no matter how much more money central-planers poor into the project long after building it.
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Even if the best engineers set up the physical infrastructures and plug in the vital resources, even if structures are built with fresher and more sustainable technology with a smaller footprint, even if they kick out or bury all the workers who built it and resettle the desired population, it is still not wise to establish a city on nothing with a grid mindset.
It takes a little more investment but in the right direction to try to recreate a “dimensionality” that typically evolves over centuries when a megacity is organically seeded.
Only then one can attempt to create the equivalent of a two or three centuries old universities like NYU or Columbia in the course of decades.
Chinese have understood this and are building their megacities around the existing smaller parts. Even much smaller cities like Dubai or Doha grew their skyline organically – though on steroid – around an existing old town.