Different means of transportation lead to different impacts on the shape of our towns and cities. This has been a near constant theme in the Shaping our Towns & Cities project discussions. Most of our discussions have centered on exploring the different ways that our communities have been designed for automotive transportation rather than walking, biking, or rail. This Wall Street Journal article, Cities of the Sky, sent in by one of our participants, brings up the idea of an “aerotropolis”–a city designed around air transportation. Greg Lindsay, the author, writes about Dubai:

It is a textbook example of an aerotropolis, which can be narrowly defined as a city planned around its airport or, more broadly, as a city less connected to its land-bound neighbors than to its peers thousands of miles away. The ideal aerotropolis is an amalgam of made-to-order office parks, convention hotels, cargo complexes and even factories, which in some cases line the runways. It is a pure node in a global network whose fast-moving packets are people and goods instead of data. And it is the future of the global city.

This connects with some other themes of our discussions, such as how we might think of designing cities as nodes in a larger distributive networks (rather than as stand-alone units) and how some community design and development might be intentionally short-term, with the emergence of ready-designed “instant cities” surrounding these global hubs of air transportation.  Lindsay certainly brings up a new twist on many of the ideas and concerns we’ve been discussing so far.

–Jeff Prudhomme


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