Lean Linear City proposes a continuous urban ribbon of twenty or more stories high, extending for many kilometers. Two main, parallel structures are built in modules measuring 200 meters (600 feet) in length. Each module accommodates about 3,000 residents and spaces for commercial, industrial, educational, cultural, recreational, and health maintenance activities. Lean Linear City suggests a possibility of sustainable urban development within its structure and the environment beyond. While carbon neutrality is within its reach through innovations in building technology and energy conservation, the most important contribution of Lean Linear City is, perhaps, its logistical approach to define and control the growth pattern of the existing and future cities.
Here are some issues addressed as examples of “lean alternatives” in Lean Linear City to sustain urban mobility.
MIXED-USE URBAN ENVIRONMENT
24/7 use of the Lean Linear City continuum provides an efficient and lively urban environment through mixed-use activities such as living, working, learning, and leisure. Although such urban life could be taxing on individuals, Lean Linear City also features immediate access to nature and open space, to balance urban intensity. Commuting occurs on foot and/or by train. While offering substantial urban activities within its linear structures, Lean Linear City is meant to ‘connect,’ providing residents with access to larger urban nodes (existing cities and new arcologies) that offer a different scale of socio-cultural and economic dynamism.
The relatively low-cost and highly efficient (in dollar value per energy output) forms of non-renewable energy, namely fossil fuels, have certainly brought our western world unprecedented progress in the last century. We are also aware of the environmental and human costs that have resulted from such progress with ever-increasing carbon emissions in our atmosphere as the rest of the world shares our prosperity. Depending on regional climatic and topographical conditions, Lean Linear City introduces alternative energy production options: continuous arrays of photovoltaic modules harvesting solar energy and a series of windmills capturing wind energy. Both systems are located at the top of the structures taking advantage of non-polluting renewable energy. Passive solar features such as glazed atrium spaces and attached greenhouses (Energy Apron) add to the energy efficiency of the building. If all combinations of the suggested energy production/efficiency systems are employed for the urban modules, they would support 80 – 100% of the modules’ energy needs.
Efficient organization of water supply and wastewater reclamation systems requires substantial capital investment even in a highly dense lean linear urban environment. However, Lean Linear City tries to focus on the reduction of water usage by introducing a climate-controlled atrium for urban activity and greenhouses for agricultural production. Additionally, alternative energy systems reduce dependence on more conventional energy production facilities such as power plants and ore/oil refineries that consume substantial amounts of water for their industrial needs. The residents also enjoy immediate access to recreational areas that feature bodies of water such as rivers and lakes within pedestrian reach or via other means of public transportation. The open agricultural fields are in close proximity to reusable, treated water, augmenting their irrigation needs.
LLC’s logistical approach to design makes waste material collection more efficient. The linear transportation system provides easier access to waste processing and recycling locations and disposal sites. The biologically processed (composting) materials fulfill the landscaping and garden soil enrichment needs. An energy recovery system that proceses solid, liquid and gaseous materials into usable energy could also be adopted. Perhaps the largest contribution to waste management in Lean Linear City is the reduction in the absolute amount of material consumption by redefining the “quality of life” for its residents and giving pedestrian access to many amenities so that each resident does not have to own everything (but can share). Lean Linear City creates an environment in which less materials are needed and less waste is produced through the efficient use of resources.
Sustainable agriculture may be a somewhat elusive concept, especially with the complexity of varied and shifting environmental conditions along with the socio-economic needs of the communities that produce and consume the goods involved in the process. However, our attempt to reduce the food mileage that piles up our energy and environmental costs necessitates bringing agricultural activities much closer to the habitat where the consumption occurs. Lean Linear City explores urban agriculture in the adjacent open field and vertical farm built into the structure where applicable. Another unique feature of Lean Linear City is the terraced greenhouse unit (Energy Apron) intended to extend the growing season and provide diversified horticulture and floriculture practices within its stratified microclimatic conditions. This glazed, productive environment substantially reduces the amount of water usage while diverting excess heat to upper structures for space heating when needed
Although the lifestyle within Lean Linear City occurs primarily in pedestrian mode, the linear nature of the urban ribbon structure is meant to follow the urban logistical system connecting different cultural interests and economic needs both horizontally and linearly, mass-transit systems are employed, including local shuttles and moving walkways as well as regional trains occasionally ‘touching down’ at major urban centers (existing cities or new arcologies) where Lean Linear City intersects. This transit-oriented development (TOD) approach provides a more controlled urban growth strategy as opposed to a seemingly unstoppable urban sprawl driven by our automobile dependence. Lean Linear City is also high density (20+ stories), enough to justify a multi-level, public circulation system including the integration of vertical transport systems such as elevators and escalators. Public accessibility at multiple levels encourages walking, cycling, and the use of other low impact transport mechanisms. Sustainable mobility should address the problem of energy inefficiency and pollution caused by conventional logistical systems while creating a healthier lifestyles for residents.
In conclusion, Lean Linear City is a complimentary piece to existing cities in need of urban growth and re-development, as well as an integral part of proposed ‘ecological’ communities built along the way. No matter how robust an eco-city proposed elsewhere may become, it still must address urban growth issues beyond its ‘protective’ ecological envelope.
While the Lean Linear City possesses arcological elements within the system, its main focus is to map out the urban growth pattern in a more controlled manner by linearizing the ecological footprint needed to support activities within the nodes (larger cities) along its path.
Macro (logistical) urbanization is the key to transcend our daily life in gridlock.