John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
One designer's solution to class conflict caused by blocked views.
The biggest class conflict for coming generations will not be access to good education or medical care. It will be who has the best view. Or that's what industrial designer Shin Kuo is kind of implying, writing:
According to my research, urbanization has become a big trend in the world. Because of that, buildings will become higher and higher, and more and more people who live in the lower floors of buildings will get their view blocked. Based on the results from both the Asian and the American market research, there is a [difference] in sales or rental prices between the lower floor units and higher floor units in the same building. In the future, all the top floors of buildings will be owned by people with very high incomes and the middle to lower income people will only have a limited view from their living spaces.
But Kuo has devised a solution so tower communities don't devolve into an Eloi/Morlock bloodbath: a building whose units rotate at predetermined times, giving everybody a 360-degree view of the city.
"Turn to the Future," as Kuo dubbed the concept he developed at San Francisco's Academy of Art University, would feature apartments sliding on a spiral rail around a central pillar. To prevent huge fireballs, each home's gas and electric lines would automatically detach before moving and reattach in new ports at its destination. And of course everyone's front doors would lock before a repositioning, to avoid a horrible rain of bodies.
The far-out idea should please fans of sustainability—it includes solar panels and a regenerative braking system—as well as amusement rides. Apart from the whee! descent down the spiral, when each apartment reaches the lowest slot, a crane whips it up to the very top of the building. Now, writes Kuo, "all people who live in the city will have a chance to enjoy the high quality of living spaces and share the equal view of their city and landscape."