Narrow Streets #1 : Sketch for a virtual road trip in homage to Nathan Lewis

I love people who rant on the internet. And I'm fascinated by the debate about good and bad urbanism. Hence I'm a huge fan of James Howard Kunstler, with his jeremiads about peak oil and eyesore of the month.

More recently, I've discovered Nathan Lewis, an inspiringly passionate advocate for "Really Narrow Streets" as the cure for urban ills. He makes a good case, backed up by plenty of nice pictures.

Narrow == good.

Wide == Bad.

Narrow Streets #1 is a sketch for a possible virtual reality / CAVE environment to explore themes of narrow streets. The viewer is walking along an infinite urban street; she is given no control over where or how fast she walks, but can set two general parameters for the architecture : the width of the street and the average height of the buildings. In this particular version of the program, parameters are set by clicking the mouse : the further to the left of the screen she clicks, the narrower the road gets; the higher up the screen, the taller the buildings.

The city doesn't change immediately in response to the viewer's click. Instead, the parameters are held until the next section of road is created. Hence the viewer is encouraged to spend time in the virtual city, exploring the shifts in building density. Perhaps she will look for the ideal balance of width and height where she feels most comfortable. Alternatively she can experiment with the bleakness of the hypertrophic city or the sheer hell of outer suburban auto-wasteland.

Notes :

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Source code: narrow_streets

Built with Processing

Further Reading

The blog Narrow Streets LA does a nice job of hacking photographs of streets to show how they'd look after a rigorous slim.