Enlarged View, Matt Gangemi

A conversation over at the Utility vs. Fun post reminded me of an idea I had years ago.  Note that this post is for fun only, and we live in a world that’s far too serious to ever implement such a plan. 

Spinland would be a completely constructed city, built on a body of water.  In this case I’ve chosen the north end of Lake Washington, as this will also provide a new pedestrian means of crossing the lake.  The inner portion of the city will float and turn using power from incoming water (additional hydro power can likely be generated).  It will turn very slowly, specifically three times per day (around 0.4 mph at the edge for this size city). 

Residences will be located outside the spinning area, and clustered together.  Businesses will be located on the spinning disk, and will also be clustered together.  A cluster of offices will pass a cluster of homes at 8am, and again at 4pm.  There will be clusters of retail areas, schools, and other services also located on the disk. 

The result will be a city that does the commuting for you.  All kinds of businesses, restaurants, and retail will turn past your home three times a day.  Your commute will always be very short, and working late just means you have to walk further. 

There are downsides.  You obviously would have to move homes when you move jobs to a new cluster, and it would be most convenient if your spouse worked in the same cluster.  And then there’s the cost of building an entire floating city.  And we’d have to make sure the salmon were happy.  But it sounds like a good life to me.

(note: if someone ever tells you that transit activists are engaged in social engineering, feel free to laugh at them then point to this)

Rotating City, Matt Gangemi

35 Replies to “Spinland”

  1. MattiLand ™ The postal carriers are going to love this. A bag a mail and an easy chair. One lap and 6 hours later we’re done.

    1. Gondolas* could be built on the disk, or on the stationary sections. Or you could build a tower in the exact center, and run lines radially to the stationary section. Though they’d have to be higher than the tallest building.

      * or any other form of transit – though subway lines would be tough

  2. I think I’ll step out for a pint! 3 hours and 6 beers later: Oh crap, the bad side of town has rotated around…

    1. Meh. The whole thing’s less than a mile wide on flat land – walk home. And I hereby decree there will not be a bad side of town.

    1. I guess I could put in a river through the middle in the shape of a Y, so you’ll only have to wait a bit under an hour. Or a lock and river on a stationary section (yawn).

      1. Or a YachtMobile ™ on the drawing board of some engineer named Matt.
        Splashdown in 3…2…1..

  3. I honestly believe this is a look into our much centuries from now future. Not the spinning part, but creating man-made surfaces over water for more living space.

    1. But I have to ask something. If the whole thing is only a mile wide, and there’s a big park in the middle, why does it need to spin? Won’t everything be within easy walking distance?

      1. It doesn’t need to spin. And buildings don’t need elevators. And downtown Seattle doesn’t need buses. And a morning mocha does not need whipped cream. Spinning will be convenient, interesting, and fun.

      2. Duh? It needs to spin for my Art submission (1%). It’s a huge-ass seismograph with the chart recorder on the perimeter of the moving section. NOAA workers at lunch will love riding the needle during major events – much better than a mechanical bull. Let ’em predict that!

    2. Already happening. Much of the San Francisco Bay was filled in years ago. Seattle’s seawall made us less of a marsh. A large strip of Lake Union is covered in floating homes. I worked on a project in Dubai where not only were the islands manmade, but they were going to float 2-story homes on concrete-styrofoam bases.

      Though this idea is a dream, it really shouldn’t be technically infeasible. All that would be holding it back would be the cost/benefit balance (expensive is fine, as long as you’re adding enough value), and some entity with enough capital to pull something like this off.

      1. Just remove the Locks, and restore the original Lake Washington shoreline, before the flow direction of the Duwamish was reversed.

    3. Imagine if we could fill in Lake Washington!

      I mean, for most of us, it’s just a water barrier.

      There are very, very few who enjoy it for boating, but it causes more problems than benefits.

      We could at least make it a very, very reduced size like make 1/4th of what it is now, and not be so constricted by all the bridges.

  4. Truth is we’ll probably see more than one of these in local waters in our lifetimes. Relocating one’s residence will be easiest thing of all: floating homes and liveaboards have been around forever.

    The Venetians run a lot of their city transit with not only gondolas (the boat with the singing Italian kind) but long motorized craft called “Vaporetti”, which have route numbers just like buses.

    One unsettling discovery could be how much faster your city rotates than the average Metro transit bus runs in Seattle. You may be required to put a standard green “Express” sign in all the windows.

    Good location. Trains from Ballard via Ben’s Seattle Subway could run right across the hub, which would rotate around the station like a wheel on an axle.

    Mark Dublin

  5. This works in theory but it raises the issue of, do people really want access to the business cluster and school cluster only three times a day? What about clients who come in throughout the day? Is the school day exactly the same length as the workday? If students go to school an hour later than parents go to work, does that mean they’ll also come home from school an hour later? What if you need to go to the supermarket at the wrong time? Finally, isn’t the Lake Washington isthmus so small that driving to the wrong end of the disc is only a mile anyway?

    1. You still have to walk some. But we could set up the city so that it’s as convenient as possible. Help get the kid out the door in the morning, and he walks across to school. Finish your coffee and you’re across the street to work. Maybe there are a few lunch spots on the residential side lined up for your break at noon. Kid comes home just before you. Restaurants are up next if you don’t feel like cooking, or after dinner you can walk across the street to do some shopping. Or take a stoll close to the center to visit a museum or library (maybe that’s what should be there instead of a park).

      It won’t all work out perfectly, but I could imagine developing some good routines. Imagine the time saved by not commuting.

  6. There’s never any need for complicated solutions to transportation if every trip is shorter than a mile. Just walk everywhere, forget the spinning. Please, for the sake of spatial navigators, forget the spinning. Don’t even bother with any transportation infrastructure on the disc bigger than a bike path.

    Of course, not every trip is shorter than a mile, because this island is still very much connected to (read: dependent on) the economy of the region. Still, inter-island trips are simply not a transportation challenge requiring a spinning disc. The transportation challenge is the links to the mainland. Which also allow travelling across the island to get from the eastside to the westside. Which makes this island just like many existing suburbs.

  7. In Soviet Russia, office commutes to YOU!!

    In all seriousness: no one would need to exercise this way! :P

    1. Like people in our car-based world exercise? I think of it as giving you the option to exercise. You can still head over to the coffee shop when it’s across town.

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