Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Hillsides As Yet

Housing Shifts


After Borders are Demolished, People Will Come First

By John Taylor; 2010 June 09, Nur 04, 167 BE

Here is a general description of hillside developments; this should be the last chapter of the infrastructure section of People Without Borders

The Hillside So Far

Seen from far above the world belt looks like a long row or mound. When the belt merges into enters a more populated urban area, it resolves into many rows of hillsides, divided by street corners that are often domed over. From a distance the hillside buildings look like giant furrows of a newly ploughed farmer's field, except that they are green on one side and white on the other. The streets and block rows tend to run in an east-west direction in order to catch maximum sunlight on the southern face (in the Southern Hemisphere, this would be the northern face). The gradual, sunny side slope is covered with greenhouses, ornamental gardens, parkland, agriculture and solar collectors.

The shady northern side is steeper and consists of high density housing and mixed-use building units running down its incline. Many stories high, a single superstructure has fit into it many layers of standard, mobile compartments in niches down its side. This is high density, high efficiency housing. Decisions are made locally but the overall architecture conforms to a set of standards promulgated by a future world government.

The entire city block is a single "hillside" or "mound" superstructure; into this overall skeleton smaller, modular units fit in as required by local consultation. The block building is well insulated and energy independent. The infrastructure, including rapid transit, is hidden underground. It takes advantage of the economies of scale of having many people crowded together into a small area. Other economies are derived from having the same basic design everywhere.

Dwelling units are set into permanent niches, into plant-lined balconies running up the north side. These living units are called ROO's (Room of One's Own) cluster into household compounds and family apartments. Mixed in with the residential agglomerations are workshops, schools, factories, shops, offices and other commercial structures, all in close proximity. The noisiest industrial activity is carried on deep inside, where sound can be contained and dampened.

Along the hillside there are tall towers and lookouts that also function as farmers' silos, heat towers and the bases of wind turbines. An area called a stoa runs along the ground floor of the inhabited side. Its line of pillars gives the place a classical look, and marks the transition between semi-private living space and a walkway along which the public walk and the street, where they ride bicycles.

Characteristically, the ROO dwelling modules and their sub-units shift from place to place. When travelling, a hillside dweller can take these modular units along with them. Because they are of standard dimensions, they can cheaply be transported by rails running underneath the street or buildings, and connect to trains running underneath the World Belt leading anywhere in the world. The same is true for an individual's professional ROO sub-module.

Like household ROO modules, the factories, workshops, offices and other workplaces in the hillside block are constructed as compounds with a single common area. Around this space fit many mobile plug-in ROO working sections. Here workers of all kinds ply their trade or profession, both separately and in groups, guided by their respective mobile, internet-connected, standardized ROO working unit. Children walk to school where, in the same way, their ROO working sub-module is fitted into their school's classroom, which also consists of a compound of each student's module.

Each classroom, office and workplace has an affiliation with a marketing stall located in a street-corner "workers' palace." These palaces occupy the broad space where streets intersect, at the crossroads between hillside blocks, which are domed over in harsh weather. This space is devoted to learning and professional development. Like a king's palace, the worker's palace features the products and handicrafts of which the workers in the area are most proud.

Since these corner working palaces tend to specialize, on market day a local clothier, say, would have her goods sent to the nearest kiosk in a worker's palace specializing in textiles and fashion. To sell her goods, she would walk to this stall on the day that her speciality is featured. A student who is apprenticing as a grower, for example, would walk up to several blocks away to the nearest farmer's market on market day to help his block coop sell their fruits and vegetables at their stall.

Housing Shifts for Health and Learning

Life in a hillside neighbourhood is fluid and dynamic; it seems grounded at times, rooted in tradition, and at others it is spontaneous and unpredictable.

This is partly because the hillside shape itself offers a choice between hilly and flat. But the ground it sits on, by and large, is not flat either. The street may be straight or highly sinuous, and hillside furrows vary greatly too, alternating between even areas and undulating slopes, valleys and hills. During construction, when there were no hills already there from before, artificial are piled up by bulldozers. This variety in terrain allows the mobile ROO units to be moved around to assure that each resident gets the right amount of exercise.

There are many advantages to the fact that a dwelling unit might move overnight to any location, next door in the neighbourhood, or anywhere in the world. Each outward arrangement is the result of many complex and shifting formulas, a network of ever changing contracts, plans and agreements among residents. This allows teachers to place their students where they are likely to learn best, and doctors to put the health needs of their patients before many other factors that otherwise block their advice.
For example, as soon as sensors detect that a resident is getting overweight, their ROO sub-units can be moved in such a way as to increase the arduousness of their daily commute. If the person gets sick, underweight or weakens from old age, the commute can be tailored to ease off on the arduousness of their lifestyle.

The same adjustability applies to the level of stimulation in a block neighbourhood. Someone who is frail or ill, or women who are or may soon become pregnant can be eased into a quiet low-pressure environment, almost without noticing it. The very weak and elderly, for whom too much strenuous daily effort is genuinely dangerous, would find themselves shifting into specially designed locales built around hospitals. Meanwhile, the mental health of a bored or boisterous youth may be bolstered by moving into a highly charged, competitive milieu. Residents' need for linguistic or cultural variety can also be aided by moving their ROO unit or sub-unit into a different ethnic neighbourhood enclave nearby.

Similarly, recreation can be tailored to a person's needs at the time, from sedate to hair-raising. The hillside towers have climbing surfaces where slides and waterslides can run down their outside face into the structures below. These can be moved around for variety, and integrated into virtual games and educational activity.

By catering to specialized needs a responsive neighbourhood leadership can take many kinds of initiatives to increase the value of their collective real estate investment. Each block benefits from their own specialities, as well as those of nearby neighbourhoods. For example, a block that specializes in special health needs would increase their own values and those of blocks nearby, who also benefit from reduced health care costs. A block may choose to develop a school, library and museum based on the knowledge and leanings of its own "human capital" living there.

All this is an outward result of having a reliable center, a world government, a common human faith and philosophy, around which all can orient thought and action. Once there is unity in essentials, we will naturally seek to distinguish ourselves in whatever is not essential, in what can vary.


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