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.
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.
- Of course, this is an exercise in playing with Processing's 3D modelling capability
- Unfortunately, on my machine, and I suspect some others, 3D applets don't seem to work in the browser (though others work fine). From a quick internet survey, this seems to be a fairly arbitrary error affecting about half the population of viewers, so I've left the applet in this page in case it works for you. Otherwise you'll have to copy the source into your copy of Processing. (The background image is here.)
- I'm using the Cube class I copied from one of the examples of the Processing site. Everything else is written by me.
- As this is an exercise focussing on the idea of "really narrow streets" and building proportions, I've not been trying to make a particularly beautiful environment. It's pretty miserably uniform reddish / bluish grey boxes. Even so, I claim that the narrower streets with taller buildings feel more comfortable to me. It will be interesting to see who agrees and if anyone doesn't.
Source code: narrow_streets
Built with Processing
The blog Narrow Streets LA does a nice job of hacking photographs of streets to show how they'd look after a rigorous slim.