Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Descriptors for City Design

Designing a city and need inspiration? 

Here are a list of templates you can put on individual neighborhoods/districts within a larger city to stimulate your own sense of wonder:

Neglected: No one picks up the trash here. Public amenities like wells/fountains, bridges, and streets are broken or crumbling. Communal spaces like plazas and markets show no signs of civic pride -- they are unwelcoming, dirty, and shabby. The city authorities seem to have withdrawn their support for this place. The residents seemed resigned to their fate.

Barricaded: The residents of this district have walled themselves in to keep the rest of the city out. Entry is closely controlled through one or two checkpoints, or perhaps through secret passages between buildings or underground.
Abandoned: No one lives here anymore, despite no obvious signs of strife or natural disaster. Weeds and saplings grow up through the pavement. Houses are still furnished -- little or no looting is evident. There may be signs that people left in a hurry.

Clannish: This quadrant of the city is occupied by a single group, sharing either blood ties, ethnicity, religion, or some other common cause. Strangers are subject to curious stares at best, outright hostility at worst.
Lawless: This is where even the city guards won't go after dark. It's mob rule here, with small gangs of residents pitted against one another with no single boss to keep order.

Besieged: The opposite of a barricaded neighborhood. Here it's the city authorities who are trying to keep the residents from getting out. Again, it might be walled or gated, with limited legal access, but plenty of smuggling going on.

Looted: Someone swept through this district and stole everything of value. If there are any residents left, they are picking up the pieces and husbanding their meager belongings as best they can.

Razed: Once it was a bustling neighborhood. Now it's just vacant lots and mounds of rubble. Someone -- the city authorities? -- deliberately knocked down every standing structure here, and no one has rebuilt.

Flooded: It's a DIY Venice in this neighborhood. The area is permanently inundated by water, leaving residents to build higher, or adopt a floating lifestyle, with houseboats and rafts.

Burned: A fire has ravaged this district, leaving charred houses, ash heaps, and debris.

Exclusive: This district is reserved for an elite class of citizens, and no one else can enter except their servants and other invited guests. Entry is through one or two guarded gates only.


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