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July 09, 2013

Good News: The Future is Still Happening
Bad News: It's Happening in China

I like arcologies, or at least the idea of them.

Via Hot Air, this building in Chengdu, China is very large. Not quite an arcology like you see in sci-fi books, but still the world's largest building. (Not tallest -- it's got a very big footprint.)

If you can get past the Engrish and the clawhammer-subtle Red Chinese Triumphalism (the narrator is trying a bit too hard to sell the message that "China has arrived!!11!!"), the below video gets interesting between 4:40 and 8:00.

Thomas Friedman just nutted.

I think that as far as politics, this project and should be faulted for of course being yet another gigantic project undertaken by a China determined to harness the power of government into catapulting it into First World status. They're going about it wrong, of course.

We don't really build big things too often any more. Maybe it's that we've matured as a culture and don't need to. Maybe it's because the government, often a necessary partner or prime actor in big civil engineering programs, is simply too corrupt and inept to be trusted with anything complicated.

But yet... a culture's energy is reflected in these sorts of major projects. From the 1880s to 1930s, America had a lot of cultural energy. Now, not so much.

Now you see big projects being built, but they're always in China or Dubai or whatever. Oh sure, we throw one up every once in a while, but nothing that really excites me. Nothing that says "Here's the future, kiddo."

(Although in fairness, the 8 Spruce Street building has a Public School inside of it, so it does have one feature of an arcology.)

It should be noted that China is also pouring billions into building enormous ghost cities where no one has ever lived (and no one lives at the present). So Thomas Friedman's notion that an Authoritarian Empowered Government is the Answer We've Been Looking for is wrong.

But putting aside who builds such thing -- someone ought to build them.

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posted by Ace at 06:52 PM

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