How to build a city - frei nach >Harvard Projekt On The City <in Mutations, ACTAR 2001

In 2000 ca 50% of the world population lives in cities.

In 2025 ca 5 billion individuals live in cities.

Building cities is the single most important act of production (and reproduction) within society. Each city could come complete with a set of standardized components used to assert and maintain global authority. These components are governed by a recognizable "visual language" which determines the form, orientation and siting of public architecture: the essential programmatic activities to enable movement inside and between cities, and the necessary network interface (infrastructures, public services and "urban armatures") to ensure efficient communication and exchange with other cities in the world. Once you know how cities function, you will have all the necessary information to configure and program your own. The question then becomes:


There are four main elements that you will need to understand for the building, proliferation and networking of a city:

1. The city is comprised of standardized parts arranged on a matrix. These parts are the standard equipment included in the container of each city and are easily identifiable.

2. The city is organized according to a series of general principles which are socially, culturally and politically determined, and in most cases are manifested in clear architectural and urban examples.

3. The city is the relationship of constantly changing flows superimposed onto a generic template.

4. You will have the ability to customize your city according to local topographical, climactic or cultural conditions.

For all its apparent complexity, once you know the rules, a city is easy to build.

It is important to understand that the city is organized according to certain general principles.

1. it is important to determine the appropriate site for your city. The city should have access to trade, water, and transportation, and may be in one of the following conditions: 1) mountainous, 2) level, 3) dry and waterless, 4) rich and wellwatered, 5) fertile and abundant, or 6) barren and less fertile. Secondly, consider the advantages of one landscape over another. For example, island sites are better for "security," whereas cities on flat plains are easier to enclose.

2. If you desire "pleasure and utility" in your city, it is important that you consider the "relation to sky and seasons... in terms of cold, heat, mistiness, clearness of atmosphere, or the balance of all seasons."

3. The next principle to understand is that cities are to be arranged in a rectangular form with two main thoroughfares (cardo and decumanus) crossing in the approximate center of the city.

4. Next, you should fix the four cardinal points (as determined by the main streets) and establish a perimeter around the city. The gates of city should be at the points where the main streets intersect the perimeter enclosure.

5. After the perimeter and gates are defined, one should "lay out the secondary roads in the manner of a chess board."

6. Next, a series of rituals should be performed to "place the future city under the protection of the law."

After you have secured the protection of the law and satisfied the necessary geometric requirements, you are ready to begin programming your city.

1.The first programmatic element to place is the forum for commercial activity. It is best if the forum is centrally located to accommodate a wide range of functions. Around the forum, place the capitolium, basilica, as well as thermae and other public buildings. It is important that these individual buildings establish "greatness and harmony" for the city, as an inconsistent appearance may be undesirable. Likewise, it is important that these buildings evoke the power and vision of the state.
2. After you have secured the protection of the law and satisfied the geometric requirements of the new city, it is important to begin programming the remainder of the city with additional activities related to defense, commerce, entertainment, hygiene, agriculture, worship, and administration.

3.Meanwhile, you should begin to develop neighborhoods in three of the city's quadrants; be sure to reserve one quadrant for an amphitheater and other public buildings (granaries, museums, libraries) which cannot be placed around the forum. Remember, "variety" is a desirable characteristic of your new city.

4.When your genericity is sufficiently programmed, you should begin to grid the surrounding landscape for agricultural purposes.