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pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton


1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk,, Eratosthenes, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, peer-to-peer, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Robert Bork, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

But for The Stack at least, what is computation, and how does the computational infrastructure at the Earth layer support the accidental megastructure? “Computation” is not only what The Stack is made from; it is also how the megastructure composes, measures, and governs itself. At the Earth layer, algorithms and electrons interweave at landscape scale, driving continental economies; in turn, those landscapes are disciplined by other algorithms hoping to rationalize the enormous energy appetite of the whole. We will examine this recursion from the ground up. The first sections of this chapter consider the materiality of computation in itself, before any artificial computing machines came onto the scene, and will ask if computation was “discovered” more than it was invented. The Earth layer is also made from the Earth itself, as the terraforming imperative of the Stack megastructure disembowels geological resources toward global conversions.

Such is the model infrastructural information warfare of microorganisms, insects, mobile software, and megacities.13 At landscape scales, The Stack supports the consolidation of bandwidth infrastructure into continental nodes as well as the design of massively integrated architectural forms and programs, encapsulated into architectural megastructures visible from a now primary satellite perspective: buildings at Stack scale. These megastructures may be there to organize human habitation or object flow (e.g., corporate campuses, airports, warehouses), but in many cases, the design problems are increasingly similar to one another. The end result is not so much a neutralization of placefulness but rather a monumental (or antimonumental) hyperinscription, a total architecture withdrawn from the public city and bound by its own structural borders, gates, walls, and skins, gardens, introverted from its immediate environment so as better to connect to external planetary economies on its own terms. Enclaves inside of enclaves digest one another all the way down. For these megastructures, spatial integration is defined in the paired tongues of experience and logistics, and realized by folding their urban functions under a single roof and programming them (attempting to at least) as a single architectural system, as a self-binding and homogeneous geodetic datum.

The Stack, as a whole, structures the City layer through the consolidation of urban nodes into megacities and also through the consolidation of both public and private urban systems in megastructures. We'll find that instead of heterogeneous and open interfacial platforms, for their own footprints Cloud platforms prioritize instead urban-scale walled gardens. The megastructure provides a bounded total space in which architectural and software program can be composed by complete managerial visualization; for it, the border, the gate, and the wall bend into closed loops containing vast interiors, sometimes in pursuit of utopian idealization and isolation. The megastructure is an enclave within the city that also holds a miniaturized city within itself, and so the specific and different terms of that miniaturization are the vocabularies of differing utopian agendas, whether explicit or suppressed.

pages: 519 words: 136,708

Vertical: The City From Satellites to Bunkers by Stephen Graham


1960s counterculture, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, Buy land – they’re not making it any more, Chelsea Manning, Commodity Super-Cycle, creative destruction, deindustrialization, digital map, drone strike, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, energy security, Frank Gehry, ghettoisation, Google Earth, Gunnar Myrdal, high net worth, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, late capitalism, mass immigration, means of production, megacity, megastructure, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-industrial society, Project Plowshare, rent control, Richard Florida, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, Skype, South China Sea, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, trickle-down economics, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, WikiLeaks, William Langewiesche

Skywalk/Skytrain/Skydeck: Multilevel Cities 1See Antonio Sant’Elia, Luciano Caramel and Alberto Longatti, Antonio Sant’Elia: The Complete Works, Rome: Rizzoli International Publications, 1988. 2Antonio Sant’Elia, Architettura Futurista, Milan: Galleria Fonte d’Abisso, 1984 [1914]. 3Ibid, p. 280. 4See Jean-Louis Cohen and Hubert Damisch, Scenes of the World to Come: European Architecture and the American Challenge, 1893–1960, Paris: Flammarion, 1995. 5See Peter Cook and Michael Webb, Archigram, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1999. 6Japanese architect Maki Fumihiko defined a ‘megastructure’ in 1964 as a ‘large frame in which all the functions of a city are housed’. Megastructures had, he argued, ‘been made possible by present day technology’, Maki Fumihiko, Investigations in Collective Form, St Louis: Washington University Press, 1964, p. 1. 7Hideo Obitsu and Nagase Ichirou, ‘Japan’s Urban Environment: The Potential of Technology in Future City Concepts’, in Gideon Golany, Keisuke Hanaki and Osamu Koide, eds, Japanese Urban Environment, Oxford: Elsevier Science, 1988, pp. 324–36; and Zhong-Jie Lin, ‘From Megastructure to Megalopolis: Formation and Transformation of Mega-Projects in Tokyo Bay’, Journal of Urban Design 12:1, 2007, pp. 73–92. 8Cook and Webb, Archigram. See Reyner Banham’s definitive Megastructure: Urban Futures of the Recent Past, London: Harper Collins, 1976. 9Ibid., p. 10. 10Aileen Tatton-Brown, and William Tatton-Brown, ‘Three-Dimensional Town Planning’, Architectural Review 40, September 1941, p. 83. 11Newcastle City Council, ‘Central Area Redevelopment Plan’, Newcastle, 1963, p. 12. 12The quote comes from John Gold, ‘The Making of a Megastructure: Architectural Modernism, Town Planning and Cumbernauld’s Central Area, 1955–75’, Planning Perspectives 21:2, 2006, p. 113. 13Institution of Municipal Engineers, Town Centre Redevelopment, Proceedings of the Institution’s Convention, London: Institution of Municipal Engineers, 1962. 14London County Council, The Administrative County of London: Development Plan First Review, London: London County Council, 1960, p. 169.

At the same time, car and commercial traffic was be unleashed from the disturbance of intervening human bodies within an unconstrained world of free-flowing mobility below. Crucial here was the shift from one all-purpose system of roads to a labyrinth of single-purpose ones, organised three-dimensionally within the huge new concrete megastructures of the city. (Critics suspected from the outset that the dominating motivation behind the idea of raised walkways in the UK was simply to remove people from the accelerating momentum of proliferating vehicles.) City centres would thus be progressively re-engineered into huge multifunctional and multilevel containers12: three-dimensional megastructures designed using the latest modernist and functionalist concepts to ‘heap up’ housing, commerce, retailing and leisure while providing enough space for the mass-automobile society. Vertical stacking would, the argument went, allow land to be used much more intensively than through the more traditional horizontal separation of land uses in cities.

Urban and architectural historians, always less dominated by such flat discourses, planar metaphors and flat cartographic traditions than urban geographers, have already done much to start to explore the ways in which vertical urban life has been imagined, normalised, built or contested over the history of cities.20 Within these traditions what Dutch architect Ole Bauman has called the ‘metaphysics of verticalism’ extends from classical structures through the city-cosmos geometries inherent in medieval city planning to modernist mass social housing towers and the contemporary global proliferation of massive skyscrapers and urban megastructures.21 Unfortunately for the purposes of this book, however, rather than addressing the broader geographies, sociologies and politics of verticalising cities, such debates tend to focus rather on the aesthetics of vertical buildings as individual objects.22 ‘Flat’ traditions in geography and urbanism clearly need to be over-turned.23 As we shall see in the chapters that follow, in many cities the urban ‘ground’ itself, rather than being the product of natural geological processes, is increasing manufactured and raised up as humans shape the very geology of cities in ever more powerful ways.

pages: 578 words: 141,373

Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain by John Grindrod

Berlin Wall, garden city movement, housing crisis, Jane Jacobs, megastructure, Neil Kinnock, New Urbanism, Right to Buy, side project, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, young professional

‘A Wild and Romantic Place’: Arndales and Urban Motorways (1959–65) 4. ‘A Natural Evolution of Living Conditions’: Newcastle Gets the System Building Bug (1959–69) 5. ‘A Contemporary Canaletto’: How Office Blocks Transformed our Skyline (1956–75) 6. ‘A Village With Your Children in Mind’: Span and the Hippy Dreams of New Ash Green (1957–72) 7. ‘A Veritable Jewel in the Navel of Scotland’: Cumbernauld’s Curious Megastructure (1955–72) Part 3: No Future 1. ‘A Pack of Cards’: Tower Block Highs and Lows (1968–74) 2. ‘A Terrible Confession of Defeat’: Protests and Preservation (1969–79) 3. ‘As Corrupt a City as You’ll Find’: Uncovering the Lies at the Heart of the Boom (1969–77) 4. ‘A Little Bit of Exclusivity’: Milton Keynes, the Last New Town (1967–79) 5. ‘A City within a City’: The Late Flowering of the Barbican and the National Theatre (1957–81) Epilogue ‘The Dream has Gone but the Baby is Real’ Index Acknowledgements Copyright ‘Concrete Jungle Where Dreams are Made’ INTRODUCTION It is difficult to understand the place you come from.

Even Buchanan was moved to speculate that ‘perhaps some kind of individual jet-propulsion unit will eventually be developed’ though, practical as ever, he was one of the first to think through the issues around jet packs: ‘The problems of weather, navigation, air space and traffic control appear so formidable that it may be questioned whether such a device would ever be practical for mass use.’63 The Smithsons, naturally, were less cautious, writing in 1970 that ‘we may find that a revolutionised railway system, or the use of helicopters for local high speed passenger services, will make our proposed 120 foot wide “ring roads” ridiculous.’64 So what would Britain look like by the impossibly distant year 2000? Sixties planners did their best to imagine. One of the most ambitious schemes was the superhuman speculative shopping megastructure named High Market. It had been sponsored by the glass manufacturers Pilkington Brothers, and drawn up by yet another husband and wife team, Gordon and Eleanor Michell (who had advised Colin Buchanan while he was writing Traffic in Towns). The Michells imagined an artificial ridge stretching between two hills in the countryside near Dudley in the Midlands, creating what was effectively a dam of shops.

‘The ideal town,’ wrote Jellicoe, ‘would seem to be one in which the traffic circulation were piped like drainage and water; out of sight and out of mind, to go as fast as it likes, to smell as it wants, and to make noises.’67 The designs and models he produced looked like a cross between postwar Plymouth’s town centre and Tron. What was the best thing about it? ‘It can be extended indefinitely,’ enthused Jellicoe.68 The countryside may not have become home to High Market-style megastructures, but American-style out-of-town malls and European-style hypermarkets did begin to appear. Sadly lacking space-age transport infrastructure, these malls would instead continue to rely heavily on the car. The early sixties planners would no doubt be shocked that their futuristic plans for city centres never came to pass, and by the ongoing ad hoc sprawl of car-dependent trading estates. A few years ago I visited New York and explored Rochester’s huge Midtown Plaza, the inspiration for the Elephant and Castle’s shopping centre.

pages: 238 words: 75,994

A Burglar's Guide to the City by Geoff Manaugh


A. Roger Ekirch, big-box store, card file, dark matter, game design, index card, megacity, megastructure, Minecraft, off grid, Rubik’s Cube, Skype, smart cities, statistical model, the built environment, urban planning

There, you ring a buzzer on the door of the actual command center for the nation’s largest municipal helicopter fleet—and you’re in. It’s a bit like climbing up into an airport control tower, and in some ways, that’s exactly what you’ve done. The building’s landing deck is the size of an aircraft carrier: a vast meadow of painted concrete baking in the Southern California sun. This makes the Air Support Division’s HQ a kind of beached warship in the heart of the city. The inner sanctum of this megastructure is a dense sequence of small corridors and stairways, and even this at times resembles the guts of a military ship. Helicopter timetables and safety-procedure posters are tacked up on the walls, and an erasable whiteboard keeps track of who is flying what and when. I have never seen the facility crowded, although there are an awful lot of chairs, as if waiting for some future gathering. A TV plays nonstop, showing the news, weather, or whatever else the officers might want to watch before going up on their next patrol.

Sequences would build; it was like listening to someone recount an elaborate chess game, narrating moves and countermoves with one eye always on what would happen a few more steps down the line. He would describe things to me in precisely detailed sequences, hoping I would come to see these intricate geometries the way he could, every metal-on-metal contact and even the tiniest of grooved surfaces invisible within the lock itself. For Towne, each lock could clearly be blown up to the scale of a megastructure, a palace the size of a city block, its inner gates and cylinders like cavernous hallways and rooms his mind could then wander through. He seemed to hold a detailed, three-dimensional model of each lock in his head, and he could manipulate it back and forth, round and round, like a hologram rotating in space. A catalog of the Mossman locks was published in 1928, written by Alfred A. Hopkins.

Codella describes a monstrous residential complex known only as the Site Four and Five Houses: “Site Four and Five was a multistory poured concrete rabbit warren so sprawling and generic that even seasoned cops would get completely lost in its hallways or not be able to give the correct address for where they were when calling Central for backup.” If we recall LAPD tactical flight officer Cole Burdette’s interest in clarifying the city’s system of house numbers and addresses, Codella is just describing the indoor equivalent: making state-funded megastructures numerically legible to the police forces tasked with patrolling them. Even navigating their behemoth interiors required tactical innovation. Residential tower blocks require what are known as vertical patrols, for example, during which officers will walk the stairways up and down, often navigating only by flashlight, as dead bulbs can go for days or weeks at a time without being replaced. Codella describes how he and his fellow officers would pass acoustic signals to one another by tapping their nightsticks on the walls and railings of stairwells, echoing out to their colleagues somewhere else in the titanic shafts.

From Satori to Silicon Valley: San Francisco and the American Counterculture by Theodore Roszak


Buckminster Fuller, germ theory of disease, global village, Haight Ashbury, Internet Archive, Marshall McLuhan, megastructure, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, Silicon Valley, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog

Fuller nophiliac was not alone in extrapolating the tech- vision of postindustrial were others, each of whom became, countercultural secret of building a at There favorite. McLuhan, who saw history. the electronic new some was There point, a Marshall media as the "global village" that was 30 somehow cozy, participative, and yet at the same time technologically sophisticated. There was Paolo Soleri, who believed that the solution to the ecologi- modern world was the building of megastructural "arcologies" - beehive cities in cal crisis of the which the urban billions could tally environments. artificial who barnstormed O'Neill, be compacted into to- There was Gerard the country whipping enthusiasm for one of the zaniest schemes of all: up the launching of self-contained space colonies for the millions. For a few years, O'Neill fascination of Stewart Catalog (later of these became a special Brand and the Whole Earth The Co-Evolution Quarterly).

pages: 568 words: 162,366

The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea by Steve Levine


Berlin Wall, California gold rush, computerized trading, corporate raider, cuban missile crisis, facts on the ground, failed state, fixed income, indoor plumbing, Khyber Pass, megastructure, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil rush, Potemkin village, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, telemarketer, trade route

It was an astounding triumph for the American oilman, but Effendiev wasn’t finished yet. Next he offered Remp access to geological and seismic documents containing the most vital secrets of Baku’s “elephants.” Until now, the materials had been kept carefully hidden from outside eyes. Remp could see why. They depicted world-class oil fields waiting to be drilled, clearly visible in painstakingly drawn maps and sketches and well logs that revealed what Remp recognized as “super megastructures” offshore. In August 1990, Remp returned to Scotland, where he drafted a five-page letter to the two big oil companies with U.K. headquarters, British Petroleum and Shell. In it, he noted his appointment as agent for Azerbaijan’s oil industry, summarized Effendiev’s data, and invited their inquiries. Then he sat back and waited for replies. A week or so later, British Petroleum’s early negotiator in Baku, Rondo Fehlberg, concluded his own visit there and flew back to London.

“a seat at the table”: Author interview with Steve Remp, September 6, 1996. Out came his personal: Khoshbakht Yusufzade took the photograph from his office safe, November 28, 1996. “was dead”: Author interview with Remp. “You never felt”: Author interview with Tim Hartnett, August 29, 1996. “We will liquidate”: Author interview with Tom Doss (September 15, 2004), who headed Amoco’s Baku negotiations starting in 1991. “super megastructures”: Author interview with Remp. “What do you suggest?”: Author interview with Fehlberg, April 1, 1996. “coming-out party”: Ibid. an American citizen, “one in ten”: Author interview with Ray Leonard, Amoco’s vice president for frontier exploration, February 7, 2005. “risk-taker,” “liked technical people”: Author interview with Doss. “didn’t mind making”: Author interview with Sammy San Miguel (December 12, 2003), who represented McDermott, a British-based oil service company that was Amoco’s partner in the competition.

pages: 153 words: 45,871

Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson


AltaVista, British Empire, cognitive dissonance, cuban missile crisis, edge city, informal economy, means of production, megastructure, pattern recognition, proxy bid, telepresence, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog

Business Times editor Patrick Daniel, Monetary Authority of Singapore official Shanmugaratnam Tharman, and two economists for regional brokerage Crosby Securities, Manu Bhaskaran and Raymond Foo Jong Chen, pleaded not guilty to violating Singapore’s Official Secrets Act. South China Morning Post, 4/29/93 Reddy Kilowatt’s Singapore looks like an infinitely more livable version of convention-zone Atlanta, with every third building supplied with a festive party hat by the designer of Loew’s Chinese Theater. Rococo pagodas perch atop slippery-flanked megastructures concealing enough cubic footage of atria to make up a couple of good-sized Lagrangian-5 colonies. Along Orchard Road, the Fifth Avenue of Southeast Asia, chockablock with multilevel shopping centers, a burgeoning middle class shops ceaselessly. Young, for the most part, and clad in computer-weathered cottons from the local Gap clone, they’re a handsome populace; they look good in their shorts and Reeboks and Matsuda shades.

pages: 278 words: 88,711

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman


banking crisis, British Empire, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, illegal immigration, immigration reform, invisible hand, mass immigration, megastructure, Monroe Doctrine, pink-collar, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, working poor

But there will be another dimension to this eastern bloc: an economic one. Since reunification in 1871, Germany has been the economic powerhouse of Europe. Even after World War II, when Germany had lost its political will and confidence, it remained the most dynamic economic power on the continent. After 2020 that will no longer be the case. The German economy will be burdened by an aging population. The German proclivity for huge corporate megastructures will create long-term inefficiencies and will keep its economy enormous but sluggish. A host of problems, common to much of Central and Western Europe, will plague the Germans. But the Eastern Europeans will have fought a second cold war (allied with the leading technological power in the world, the United States). A cold war is the best of all wars, as it stimulates your country dramatically but doesn't destroy it.

The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape by James Howard Kunstler


A Pattern Language, blue-collar work, California gold rush, car-free, City Beautiful movement, corporate governance, Donald Trump, financial independence, fixed income, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, indoor plumbing, jitney, land tenure, mass immigration, means of production, megastructure, Menlo Park, new economy, oil shock, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, postindustrial economy, Potemkin village, Ronald Reagan, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Review, working poor, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism

The existenzminimum housing block was just the place to put them, in large, neat, high­ density stacks, out of the way, occupying a minimum of land. It wasn't the final solution, but it might do as long as the buildings lasted-which was not necessarily long. One infamous project, the crime-plagued Pruitt-Igoe apartment complex in St. Louis, was demolished only four­ teen years after completion. Another type of Radiant City, the "big footprint" megastructure 7 9 _ T HE GE O G RA P H Y O F N O W HE RE embedded in an old bulldozed central business district, such as the Empire State Plaza in Albany, New York, and the Renaissance Center in Detroit, were grimly tole;;rted by the new postwar leg�oureaU:­ crats and corporate drones. The employee--a step above "worker"­ arrived from a green suburb in his car, parked in an underground garage, ate lunch within the complex, and had no need to venture out into the agoraphobic voids between the high-rise office slabs, let alone beyond the voids to the actual city, with its messy street life, crime, and squalor.

pages: 313 words: 92,053

Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life by Colin Ellard

augmented reality, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Broken windows theory, Buckminster Fuller, carbon footprint, commoditize, crowdsourcing, Frank Gehry, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, Howard Rheingold, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, mass immigration, megastructure, more computing power than Apollo, Oculus Rift, Peter Eisenman, RFID, Richard Florida, risk tolerance, sentiment analysis, smart cities, the built environment, theory of mind, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, Victor Gruen

For the well-off, the abundant availability of high-quality organic and non-GMO foods was a welcome addition to the neighborhood, but for the majority of people living in this part of New York, many of whom had roots going back for many generations to New York’s immigrant beginnings, the scale of the new store, selling wares that few of them could easily afford, was seen as a symbolic affront to the historical values and traditions of this part of the city. When I conducted research at the site in 2012, my interest in the building, though perhaps connected to the tumult over gentrification, was more pedestrian—and literally so. On my first visit to the location, undertaken to plan a series of psychogeographic studies in collaboration with New York’s Guggenheim Museum, I was mostly interested in how this gigantic megastructure, plopped into a neighborhood more commonly populated with tiny bars and restaurants, bodegas, pocket parks, playgrounds, and many different styles of housing might influence the psychological state of the urban pedestrian. What happens inside the mind of a city-dweller who turns out of a tiny, historic restaurant with a belly full of delicious knish, and then encounters a full city block filled with nothing but empty sidewalk beneath their feet, a long bank of frosted glass on one side, and a steady stream of honking taxicabs on the other?

pages: 341 words: 116,854

The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square by James Traub


Anton Chekhov, Broken windows theory, Buckminster Fuller, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, fear of failure, intangible asset, Jane Jacobs, jitney, light touch regulation, megastructure, New Urbanism, Peter Eisenman, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, rent control, Ronald Reagan, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal

Venturi proposed something radically different from 1 Astor Plaza: rather than replace the hodgepodge of buildings with a tower, he proposed to wrap the entire assemblage in huge signs. Venturi described his thinking in a subsequent book, Learning from Las Vegas (written with Steven Izenour and Denise Scott Brown). “Times Square is not dramatic space,” he wrote, “but dramatic decoration. It is two-dimensional, decorated by symbols, lights and movement.” Thus he concluded that “a decorated shed” would be a more apt homage to its traditions than “megastructural bridges, balconies and spaces.” Venturi was the first architect to propose a new idiom faithful to Times Square’s helter-skelter, mongrelized past; but since he had done so with an almost perverse indifference to the site’s economic value, the developer rejected the idea. Sharp was, on the other hand, dazzled by the work of John Portman, the architect-developer who had built the Peachtree Center in Atlanta, and who was becoming known for his glass hotels with soaring interior spaces.

pages: 441 words: 135,176

The Edifice Complex: How the Rich and Powerful--And Their Architects--Shape the World by Deyan Sudjic


Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, colonial rule, Columbine, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, haute cuisine, megastructure, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shock, Peter Eisenman, Ronald Reagan, Socratic dialogue, urban planning, urban renewal, V2 rocket, Victor Gruen

Albany’s mayor then engaged the state to act as its agent in the building process and handed over the money to Rockefeller. From then on, Rockefeller treated the reconstruction of a city as if he were an eighteenth-century English landowner adding a wing to his country seat and supervising the construction of a series of follies in the grounds. It was Rockefeller’s idea that Harrison should design an artificial ground level for the mall, creating a megastructure, spanning a shallow valley. The inspiration, bizarrely enough, seems to have been the Dalai Lama’s palace in Lhasa. According to Harrison, Rockefeller showed him how ‘he wanted to stop the valley with a great wall going north and south. He had seen a something like it on a trip to Tibet. He wanted the feeling of separating the mall into a localized community, up on top of the hill so that he could not only get the vista of the wall, but of the whole capitol adjunct at the top.

pages: 410 words: 119,823

Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life by Adam Greenfield

3D printing, Airbnb, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cellular automata, centralized clearinghouse, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, cloud computing, collective bargaining, combinatorial explosion, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, Conway's Game of Life, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, dematerialisation, digital map, distributed ledger, drone strike, Elon Musk, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, fiat currency, global supply chain, global village, Google Glasses, IBM and the Holocaust, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late capitalism, license plate recognition, lifelogging, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, megacity, megastructure, minimum viable product, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, natural language processing, Network effects, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, Pearl River Delta, performance metric, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, RFID, rolodex, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, sorting algorithm, special economic zone, speech recognition, stakhanovite, statistical model, stem cell, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, transaction costs, Uber for X, universal basic income, urban planning, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

The more audacious observers of technical advancement dare to speculate that the point is not far off at which molecular nanotechnology and the “effectively complete control over the structure of matter” it affords finally bring the age of material scarcity to its close.25 In places where Green Plenty has broken out, most large-scale interventions in the built environment are intended to democratize access to the last major resource truly subject to conditions of scarcity: the land itself. Placeless urban sprawl is overwritten by high-density megastructures woven of recovered garbage by fleets of swarming robots.26 Equal parts habitat and ecosystem, they bear the signature aesthetic of computationally generated forms no human architect or engineer would ever spontaneously devise, and are threaded into the existing built fabric in peculiar and counterintuitive ways. But they afford everyone who wants to live in one of the planet’s great urban cores safe and decent space in which to do so, and come to be loved for their own virtues.

pages: 348 words: 185,704

Matter by Iain M Banks - Culture 08


back-to-the-land, germ theory of disease, gravity well, megastructure

Now rare and generally Developmentally/Inherently/Pervasively Senile; see WorldGod, the Xolpe: humanoid; Nariscene client species, at war ynt: quadruped equivalent of small tame otter; L8&9S Zeloy: humanoid, one of the contending species on Prasadal General Glossary 34th Pendant Floret: region of space 512th Degree FifthStrand: Humanoid Guest Facility, Syaung-un aboriginistas: those with obsessive interest in ‘primitives’ Aciculate: bush-like afap: as fast as possible (C) Altruist: a civilisation purposefully and consistently eschewing naked self-interest Anjrinh: district in Hicture; home to a Scholastery Aoud: star/system, home of Gadampth Orbital aquaticised: (humanoids) fully converted to water-dwelling Arithmetic: re a Shellworld, term given to one whose levels occur in simple multiples Articles of Inhabitation: rules by which Shellworld inhabitants live Aspirant: civilisations wanting to be Involveds Asulious IV: Morthanveld planet, Lesser Yattlian Spray autoscender: uncrewed transport within Shellworld Tower backing: direction (opposite of facing) Baeng-yon: Surface crater, Sursamen bald-head fruit: edible by caude, common to L8&9S Bare: places on Shellworld with no ground cover Baron Lepessi : classic play by Prode the younger Baskers: species type; absorb sunlight directly bell-goblet: vibrating crystal container used when drinking Chapantlic spirit billow bed: C bed with 99% AG, multiple soft wisps of material and smart “feathers” able to avoid being breathed in Bilpier: Nariscene planet, Heisp system black-backed borm: C animal Botrey’s: gambling/whore house in Pourl’s Schtip district Bowlsea: body of water filling Prime depression in Shellworld brattle: bush, L8&9S, Sursamen bravard: lusty, drinking, up-for-a-fight kind of man Bulthmaas: planet in Chyme system where Xide Hyrlis found camoufield: (C) projected field camouflaging objects Chapantlic spirit: type of booze (see bell-goblet) Charvin: a county of Sarl Cherien: ridge, near Sarl city, L8S Chone: a star in the Lesser Yattlian Spray Chyme: stellar system, home of Bulthmaas CleaveHull: type of Morthanveld ship Clissens: a Rollstar of the Ninth, Sursamen cloud trees: flora, L8&9S, Sursamen Conducer: (species) those which make habit of taking over and (usually) exploiting structures, artefacts and habitats built by earlier civilisations – from ancients to the recently Sublimed Core: solid centre of a Shellworld crackball: C game played with solid wooden ball Crater: re a Shellworld, a high-walled habitable area on Surface crile leaf: cocoa-like drug, chewed; L8&9S Curbed Lands: type of (originally Deldeyn) province cut-rot: gangrene (Sarl term) Dengroal: town, L8S, beneath the D’neng-oal Tower deSept: Nariscene clanlet without a Sept or major clan/family Despairationals: extremist group, Syaung-un Dillser: ducal house by Boiling Sea of Yakid, L9S director general: high rank of the Morthanveld Disputed: re a Shellworld, one whose Towers are not all controlled by the same species D’neng-oal Tower: Oct transport Tower, Sursamen Domity: a Rollstar of L8S Enabler: (machine) device used to find ways to communicate with alien species and artifacts Evingreath: a town on the Xilisk road from Pourl Exaltinates: elite troops under Chasque Exaltine: top Sarlian religious rank; chief priest Exponential: see logarithmic facing: direction; from facing direction of world’s rotation (opposite of backing) Facing Approach Street: near royal palace in Pourl Falls Merchant Explorer: guild of merchants exploiting Falls Falls, the: cataract on the Sulpitine river, L9S (aka the Hyeng-zhar) Far Landing: peripatetic port on far side of Sulpitine from the Settlement farpole: direction to pole of world furthest from Sarl heartlands (opposite of nearpole) Feyrla: river, Xilisk, L8S Fifth deSept: minor, unaligned clanlet, Nariscene/Sursamen Filigree: complexes of Shellworld Tower ceiling supporting inverted buttresses Fixstars: Shellworld interior stars, unmoving floater: slightly derogatory term used for aquatic peoples by landgoing peoples Foerlinteul: C Orbital FOIADSFBF: First Original Indigent Alien Deep Space Farers’ Benevolent Fund (Morthanveld) Forelight: pre-dawn light cast by Rollstar Gadampth: C Orbital Gavantille Prime: waterworld planet, Morthanveld space Gazan-g’ya: a Crater of Sursamen Gilder’s Lament, the: tavern, Pourl Godded: a Shellworld with a Xinthian at its core Grahy: Morthanveld planet, Lesser Yattlian Spray Grand Zamerin: exalted rank of the Nariscene (see also Zamerin) Greater Army: combined armies gathered by Hausk to resist Deldeyn and invade their level Great Palace: Rasselle, L9S Great Park: Rasselle, L9S Great Ship: type of very large Morthanveld ship Great Tower: one of six fortifications within Rasselle Guime: a Rollstar of L8S habiform: technically correct term for what is usually called terraforming; altering any already existing environment to suit it to the needs of one or more species Heavenly Host: Deldeyn religious sect tyl Loesp empowers Heisp: Nariscene colony system Hemerje: ducal palace near the Great Park, Rasselle Heurimo: a fallstar of L9S Hicture: a region of L8S Hicturean: Tower (L8S, not far from Pourl) Hollow World: see Shellworld House of Many Roofs, The : play by Sinnel Hyeng-zhar: cataract on the Sulpitine river, L9S, aka the Falls Hyeng-zharia Mission: religious order; controlled the Falls’ excavation Hyeng-zhar Settlement: ever-temporary city, the Falls, Sursamen Ichteuen: (Godwarriors) fight for Sarl; L8S Illsipine Tower: Sursamen Imperial Procreational College: on Nariscene homeworld; regulates Spawnings Incremental: re a Shellworld, term given to one whose levels occur in exponential increments (hence aka Exponential) injectiles: any organisms or mechanisms capable of being injected (usually into metre-scale entities, in context especially humans) In Loco’d: placed under care (Morthanveld term) Inner Caferlitician Tendril: region of space interior star: artificial suns emplaced by secondary Shellworld species within these worlds; anti-gravitational, pressing against ceiling of given level; most mobile (Rollstars); some not (Fixstars) Ischuer: city, Bilpier Jhouheyre: city-cluster, Oct planet of Zaranche Jiluence: a Monthian (megawhales) ancestral homeworld Keande-yi: region near Pourl, L8S Keande-yiine: Tower in region near Pourl, L8S Khatach Solus: Nariscene homeworld Kheretesuhr: archipelagic province, Vilamian Ocean, L8S Kiesestraal: a fading Rollstar of L9S Klusse: city, Lesuus Plate krisk nuts: caude stimulant, L8&9S Kuertile Pinch: region of space Lalance: continent, Prasadal lampstone: carbide Lemitte: general, Sarl army Lepoort: plate, Stafl Orbital Lesser Yattlian Spray: region of space Lesuus: plate, Gadampth level: re a Shellworld, one of the world’s spherical shells lifebowls: see mottled Logarithmic: re: a Shellworld, term given to one whose levels occur in exponential increments (hence aka Exponential) Machine Core/level: level immediately surrounding a Shellworld Core Meast: water-nest city, Gavantille Prime Meseriphine: star in the Tertiary Hulian Spine MHE: Monopathic Hegemonising Event (usually runway nanotech) MOA: Mysterious Object from Afar Moiliou: Hausk family estate, L8S Mottled: re a Shellworld, term given to one whose Surface is partially (mostly) free of atmosphere, with significant areas – within large, high-walled (normally original) Surface features – of nominally inhabitable pseudo-planetary environments, called Lifebowls Multiply Inhabited: re a Shellworld, one with more than one intelligent species in residence Nameless City: of L9S; long buried metropolis being uncovered by the Hyeng-zhar nanorgs: nano-scale organisms; often aka injectiles (though this covers non-biological material too) Natherley: a Rollstar of L9S nearpole: direction (opposite of farpole) Nearpole Gate: a main gate of Pourl city, L8S Nestworld: usually, and always in context of Morthanveld, a type of artificial habitat composed of multiple twisting tubes, complexly intertwined and generally water-filled Night: re a Shellworld, places within a level which are totally or almost totally dark, over the horizon from both direct and reflected sunlight or vane-blocked Oausillac: a Fixstar of L9S, Sursamen Obor: a Rollstar of L8S, Sursamen Oerten: Surface crater, Sursamen Optimae: name given to Culture, Morthanveld, etc. by more lowly civilisations; roughly equivalent to HLI Oversquare: re a Shellworld, levels beyond which increasing separation of secondary supporting filaments branching from Towers no longer allows intra-filament inter-Tower travel (usually in top half of levels); opposite of undersquare Pandil-fwa Tower: Oct transport Tower, Sursamen Parade Field: Pourl, L8S Pentrl: a Rollstar of L8S Peremethine Tower: Oct transport Tower, Sursamen Pierced: re a Shellworld, a level-accessible Tower Placed: placed under care (Morthanveld term) Pliyr: star, Morthanveld space Pourl: region and capital city of Sarl, L8S Prasadal: planet, Zoveli system Prille: country on Sketevi Primarian: type of large Oct ship Prime: re a Shellworld, term given to structure of world as originally built by Veil Quoline: river, draining the Quoluk Lakes Quoluk Lakes: of L8S, near Pourl Quonber : module platform, Prasadal Rasselle: Deldeyn capital city, L9S Reshigue: city, L8S roasoaril: fruit plant, L8&9S (refinable) Rollstars: Shellworld interior stars which move roving scendship: (Oct) scendship air- and underwater- capable Safe: (multi-million-year) re a Shellworld, term given to one with no recent history of world-caused gigadeaths saltmeat: (Sarl) salted meat Sarl: people and kingdom, L8S, Sursamen (also planet) scend tubes: tubes scendships use scendship: ship which ascends or descends within a Shellworld Tower Scholastery: recessional university, like a secular monastery devoted to learning Schtip: district of Pourl, L8S scrimp: dismissive name for Falls workers seatrider: C skeletal AG device; personal transport Secondary: re a Shellworld, term given to structural additions to world added by later possessors shade: areas on a Shellworld level without direct sunlight (effect severity varies with shell diameter, vane geometry, etc.) Shellworld: artificial planet, part of ancient megastructure; also known as Hollow World and Slaughter World (archaic) Shield world: see Shellworld Shilda: province of Sarl, L8S silse: collective term for class of Shellworld creatures which transport silt particles from seabeds and other aquatic environments to land, via hydrogen sacs, evaporation, clouds and rainfall Sketevi: continent on Bulthmaas Slaughter World: see Shellworld SlimHull: type of Morthanveld ship Sournier: county within Sarl, L8S Spiniform: (world) a partially collapsed Shellworld spiniform: applied to species, indicates a spiny, pointed body type Stafl: C Orbital Stalks: slightly derogatory term used for landgoing peoples by aquatic peoples Starfall: (rare) phenomenon occurring when the remains of an exhausted Shellworld interior star fall from the ceiling of a level to its floor; generally catastrophic Sterut: Nariscene Globular Transfer Facility Sull: Deldeyn region, L9S Sullir: Deldeyn regional capital, L9S Sulpitine: river, L9S Superintendent: judicial rank, Sursamen Surface Sursamen: Arithmetic Shellworld, orbiting Meseriphine Swarmata: the detritus of competing MHEs SwellHull: type of Morthanveld ship Syaung-un: Morthanveld Nestworld in the 34th Pendant Floret Taciturn: of a species, one which is especially uncommunicative tangfruit: C fruit, pan-human edible terraf: short for terraformed; a planet so amended, or any other large-scale constructed environment (see habiform) Tertiary Hulian Spine: region of space; location of Meseriphine thin-film: screen; goes over eyes to show virtual reality (Morthanveld term) Tierpe Ancestral: port, Syaung-un tink: dismissive name for Falls worker T’leish: sub-group of Morthanveld, on Gavantille Prime Tower: re a Shellworld, a hollow supporting column or stem, normally with vacuum inside, also used as transport tube Tresker: a Rollstar of L9S tropel trees: C flora; common on ships Twinned Crater: Surface crater, Sursamen Uliast: general, Sarl army undersquare: see oversquare unge: drug, smoked; L8&9S Upstart: (species) generally recognised if mildly pejorative term for (usually intelligent and even Involved) species which is regarded as having achieved such status by the exploitation of its relationship with another, already advanced, civilisation Urletine: (mercenaries) fight for Sarl; L8S Uzretean: a Rollstar of L9S Vaw-yei: Tower, Sursamen Veil World: see Shellworld Vilamian Ocean: on L8S Voette: country, L8S Vruise: location of Falls, L9S wallcreep: foliage, L8&9S Wars of Unity: sequence waged by Hausk to unite the Eighth Wiriniti: capital of Voette, L8S Xilisk: region near Pourl, L8S Xiliskine Tower: Tower nearest to Pourl, L8S xirze: crop, common on L8&9S Yakid: Boiling Sea of, L9S Yakid City: on shores of above, L9S Yattle: planet, Greater Yattlian Spray Zamerin: high rank of the Nariscene (see also Grand Zamerin) Zaranche: planet, Inner Caferlitician Tendril Za’s Revenge: C cocktail Zoveli: star and system, location of Prasadal Zuevelous: Morthanveld family, Gavantille Prime Zunzil Ligature: region of space; location of Iln home world/s Ships Culture Don’t Try This At Home: Steppe-class MSV Eight Rounds Rapid: Delinquent-class FP exGOU Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall: GCU It’s My Party And I’ll Sing If I Want To: Escarpment-class GCU Lightly Seared on the Reality Grill: GCU Liveware Problem: Stream-class Superlifter (modified Delta class, Absconded) Now We Try It My Way: Erratic-class (ex-Interstellar-class General Transport Craft) Pure Big Mad Boat Man: GCU Qualifier: Trench-class MSV Seed Drill: Ocean-class GSV Subtle Shift In Emphasis: Plains-class GCV Transient Atmospheric Phenomenon: GCU Xenoglossicist: Air-class LSV You Naughty Monsters: GCU You’ll Clean That Up Before You Leave: Gangster-class VFP ex-ROU Nariscene Hence the Fortress: Comet-class star-cruiser Hundredth Idiot, The: White Dwarf-class Morthanveld “Fasilyce, Upon Waking”: Cat.5 SwellHull Inspiral, Coalescence, Ringdown: Great Ship “On First Seeing Jhiriit”: Cat.4 CleaveHull “Now, Turning to Reason, & Its Just Sweetness”: Cat.3 SlimHull Sursamen Levels: Inhabitants Level Inhabitant 0Surface; vacuum/habiformed Nariscene/Baskers/others 1Vacuum Seedsail nursery 2Vacuum Baskers 3Vacuum Dark 4O2ocean Cumuloforms 5Methane shallows Kites/Avians 6Higher Gas Giant Tendrils – Naiant 7Methane Ocean Vesiculars – Monthian megawhales 8Land – O2 Sarl 9Land – O2 Deldeyn/Sarl (Under-/Over square division) 10Mid Gas Giant Tendrils – Variolous 11Methane ocean Vesiculars – Monthian megawhales 12Lower Gas Giant Swimmers 13Water/slush matrices Tubers/Hydrals 14Ice/water Dark 15Machinery the WorldGod – a Xinthian 16Core – solid the WorldGod – a Xinthian Time Intervals Term Years aeon 1 000 000 000 deciaeon 100 000 000 centiaeon 10 000 000 eon 1 000 000 decieon 100 000 centieon 10 000 millennium 1 000 century 100 decade 10 year 1 Epilogue Senble Holse was hunched over a tub with a washboard, furiously scrubbing, when her husband walked in.

pages: 773 words: 214,465

The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton

battle of ideas, clean water, dematerialisation, invisible hand, mass immigration, megastructure

However, they can’t prove a damn thing thanks to the excellent encryption and strange lack of records your slippery ex has muddled his life with. Then there’s my fee, which is ten percent seeing as how you’re family and I admire your late-found pride. So the rest is yours, clear and free.” “How much?” “Eighty-three thousand.” Araminta could not speak. It was a fortune. Agreed, nothing like the corporate megastructure Laril had claimed he owned and controlled, but more than she had expected and asked for in the divorce petition. Ever since she had walked into Cressida’s office, she had allowed herself to dream that she might, just might, come out of this with thirty or forty thousand, that Laril would pay just to be rid of her. “Oh, great Ozzie, you are kidding,” she whispered. “Not a bit. A judge friend of mine has allowed us to expedite matters on account of the circumstances of the truly tragic hardship I claimed you’re suffering.

pages: 1,386 words: 379,115

Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton

car-free, complexity theory, forensic accounting, gravity well, megacity, megastructure, planetary scale, trade route, trickle-down economics

Missiles leapt away from them, plasma exhausts turning space above the planet-sized artefact to a noonday brilliance. Nuclear explosions erupted, stabbing vast tracts of coherent radiation towards the tiny emission point betraying the Charybdis’s existence. Force field warning icons glared red. Ozzie increased their acceleration to twelve gees. His own anguished whimper joined Mark’s. * MorningLightMountain had never given the alien mega-structure much consideration. Not that it ignored the strange artefact. It had noticed the structure almost as soon as the barrier withdrew. Ships sent to investigate found a planet-sized machine with incomprehensible mass properties. Given its scale, MorningLightMountain concluded it had to be associated with the barrier; in all probability it was the generator or a part of it. According to the Bose memories, that was what the humans considered it to be.