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The Linear City: illustrating the logic of spatial equilibrium

Batty, Michael; (2022) The Linear City: illustrating the logic of spatial equilibrium. Computational Urban Science , 2 (1) , Article 8. 10.1007/s43762-022-00036-z. Green open access

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Abstract

Linear cities where activity is spread out along a transportation line, aim to offer the highest levels of accessibility to their adjacent populations as well as to the countryside. These city forms are popular amongst architects and planners in envisioning ideal cities but they are difficult to implement as they involve strict controls on development which often ignore human behaviour associated with where we locate and how we move. We briefly explore the history of these ideas, noting the latest proposal to build a 170 km city called Neom in north west Saudi Arabia, a plan that has attracted considerable criticism for its apparent ignorance of how actual cities grow and evolve. We use a standard model of human mobility based on gravitational principles to define a set of equilibrium conditions that illustrate how a theoretical city on a line would, without any controls, successively adapt to such a new equilibrium. First, we represent the city on a line, showing how its population moves to an equilibrium along the line, and then we generalise this to a bigger two-dimensional space where the original line cutting across the grid evolves as populations maximise their accessibility over the entire space. In this two-dimensional world, we simulate different forms that reflect a balance of centralising versus decentralising forces, showing the power of such equilibria in destroying any idealised form. This approach informs our thinking about how far idealised future cities can depart from formal plans of the kind that the linear city imposes.

Type: Article
Title: The Linear City: illustrating the logic of spatial equilibrium
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s43762-022-00036-z
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s43762-022-00036-z
Language: English
Additional information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Linear cities, Neom, Gravitational interaction, Accessibility on a line, Spatial equilibrium, Developments on a grid
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10144435
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