Go Where the Rhodes Take You
Let us partake in an exercise. Pencils out. Think of a patch of land - maybe it's gently rolling grassland, perhaps it's on a sweeping bay. Next, think of a city, specifically how it looks on a map. Where do the streets go? How have you laid out your city? What does the city's map look like in your mind?
You thought of a grid, didn't you?
Grids are a pretty inescapable part of cities, since they're easy to map, easy to navigate, and waste very little land. Think of some famous cities around the world - New York City, Toronto, San Francisco, Cape Town, Adelaide, Melbourne, Christchurch - actually, those are all New World cities, but just roll with me on this - and you'll realise they're grid cities. Europeans, being the fashionable sort, like to have wiggly roads that meander all over the place (as does Boston, but Boston is weird), but even they have grids in places. Grids are pretty ubiquitous in the New World, and it's very likely that if you were to put a complete novice through that exercise, they would probably draw a grid like Manhattan or Melbourne. Nothing wrong with that.
Grids are all the rage in OGF, too. Let us jet quickly around the world (thanks, Dominion!) and look at some examples. There's Latina with its broad grid, and over here we have Trevers and Port Mallore with their neat rows; as we head east we fly over Gobras City's nice squares, finishing in Archanta with Villa Constitución endless roads and Kingsbury's geometric splendour. This is only a small selection of grid cities around the world, and indeed closer to home we find grids in familiar surroundings - Holme, Saviso, Gerrise, Radern, Crafers, and Brynderwyn are all built on grids. It seems that if the city isn't at least 500 years old, built between a mountain range and the sea, or is Boston, that it will have a grid layout at least somewhere within close range of the city centre. This is logical and, as I mentioned earlier, very economical with land use.
But it's so bloody boring.
Perhaps it's because I live in a country where grids aren't practical on a large scale in many places, or perhaps because I find roads with bends in them more interesting, but I'm not a massive fan of grid cities. Don't get me wrong, they can be done well, such as grids of one orientation surrounded by grids of different orientations, but grid cities that follow one orientation forever just seem to lack something for me. I'm sure Los Angeles is a lovely city (at least if Grand Theft Auto V is anything to go by), but roads that go for tens of kilometres in a dead straight line just seems like the easy way out. If you have a city with grids for miles, don't take this as an attack on you or your designs, rather these are just my personal thoughts on grids.
I'm not really one to talk - when I took over Vodeo on the last day of 2016, I began work on Holme, which, as a result of the previous owner's choices, was an odd mix of a big grid sitting beside a tangled mess of streets - this hasn't really changed. Saviso has always been a grid city partly built on the basis of Adelaide and Melbourne, designed with a central grid and roads radiating out. But lately, I've been taking another look at Saviso, and questioning what I want the city to look like. Saviso is growing pretty fast now, but it's still at that early stage where I can easily make big changes without needing to rip apart whole swathes of the city. In the last couple of days, I've been looking very closely at two suburbs just over the Saviso River from the city centre - Kendalltown and Rhodestown.
Kendalltown is located on the flat land between Kendalls Creek and the river, and Rhodestown on gentle hills on the river's western bank. One day, I decided to fill in the gap between the two suburbs along Furlong Road and Basinghall Avenue, and the easiest way to do this was a grid. Auckland, Adelaide, and Melbourne all do this, so no problems there. Where the problem did emerge was that the grid was huge, certainly far too big for a suburb that was built in the late 1700s. It needed fixing, but how? I could have shrunk the grid down, but I didn't want that. I wanted to build Rhodestown as somewhere with curved roads, small grids broken up into different angles, and a place that aligned to the bend in the river. In short, I wanted Dunwic.
Dunwic seemed to tick all the boxes - roads going in all directions, smaller grids aligned to the same, and everything aligned to that long, sweeping bend in the Áfon Dun. With an idea of what I wanted the new Rhodestown to look like, everything between Bradley and Honeycutt Roads was torn up, along with a few other streets around Kendalltown and Sudbury. Tamworth Road was realigned to run parallel to the river (which had been widened and had some of the bends taken out of it), and the streets were deliberately angled to break the endless monotony of grids along the cardinal directions. Just for a bit of variation I added in Mount Pleasant (based on some of Auckland's volcanic cones), and scaled down the huge racecourse that used to sit on Honeycutt Road. Finally, Honeycutt Road was shortened, with the remainder renamed Ousley Terrace, complete with nice roundabouts, and for good measure I added in some new suburbs - Mount Pleasant, Ovaro, Prahon, and Renoak - just to be daring.
There's still work to be done - Kendalltown needs to be rebuilt, and the gaps around Renoak and Prahon to Kiseln have to be filled in, but I'm quite pleased with the results so far. This is the style I'm going to try and work with going forward, although there will of course be exceptions to the rule - Rosetta Road will be the hub of a long, thin grid, and newer suburbs will have many more curves. Still, after using Australasia as the basis for almost all of my mapping so far, it was a nice change of pace to refer to a city within our site, and one designed with a completely different set of goals in mind. Maybe Saviso will turn out to be a little more Myrcian than previously thought; if so, that won't go down well with the Federal-leaning St Austellians.
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Have you had your eight glasses of water today?
Not really relating to your post here, I just thought I'd like to add that at least to the naive European me, even Boston doesn't look all that non-griddy. Sure there isn't a big master plan like in NYC or Washinton D.C., but most neighbourhoods seem to follow their own local pattern of at least pretty rectangular street patterns ;)Leowezy (talk) 16:34, 20 July 2017 (CEST)
I agree with you about grid cities (that’s why I don’t map cities based on a grid). Seen from my old European point of view, it seems to be an easy way to fill blank spaces with a rational city structure (too easy?)... But not very interesting (I would not say boring). A grid city can be interesting if there is an historical reason for that kind of planning: new city planned from scratch? very rapid growth? military heritage? Tparigo (talk) 17:29, 20 July 2017 (CEST)
Kingsbury is what happens when you live in Canberra for 10+ years and go native :P This place speaks to my heart with it's hierarchical commercial centres, specialist industrial areas, and residential areas clumped around town centres. It's very orderly and I bloody love it Turnsole80 (talk) 23:05, 21 July 2017 (CEST)