So Six Urban Planners Play SimCity 5…

SimCity 5

Last month, Co.Exist and Greg Lindsay brought together a diverse group of six urbanists, three architects, three journalists, and a video game designer and let them loose in a tournament to build the best city in SimCity 5.

Who can design the “perfect” city

The result: KPF’s XimCity

Writer John McDermott sums it up for the tournament as all teams were destined to fail by the game design:

The game’s beauty lies in the fact that–like in real life–creating a “perfect” city is impossible. What makes cities great, rather, are their imperfections. By placing millions of error-prone humans within a limited vicinity, cities constantly force their inhabitants to bump into one another physically, mentally, and emotionally. A truly great city isn’t governed by an algorithm, it’s one that routinely delivers the unpredictable.

I would probably go one step further to say that “good” or “better” cities are too dynamic to ever really be considered truly designed or planned. Residents and city leaders come and go, each generation puts its own touches on the community, stuff happens. The unexpected and, yes, unpredictable allow and influence cities to be free flowing and exciting.

Planning helps, but not totally.

Edward Glaeser wrote it best in his book “Triumph of the City” (9): “With very few exceptions, no public policy can stem the tidal forces of urban change.” In other words, change happens and generally speaking no amount of tinkering from local leaders can really stop it.

[photo via SimsTrueLife/flickr]

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