Datatown is based only upon data. It is a city that wants to be described by information; a city that knows no given topography, no prescribed ideology, no representation, no context. Only huge, pure data. What are the implications of this city? What assumptions can be identified? What agenda would result from this numerical approach?
How to study this Metacity? Initially, one can describe its vastness and explore its contents perhaps only by numbers or data. Its web of possibilities - both economical and spatial - seems so complex that statistical techniques seem the only way to grasp its processes.
By selecting or connecting data according to hypothetical prescriptions, a world of numbers turns into diagrams. These diagrams work as emblems for operations, agendas, tasks. A 'datatown' appears that resists the objective of style. One way to study the world of numbers is through the use of 'extremizing scenarios'. They lead to frontiers, edges, and therefore to inventions. If we imagine the most extreme state of the Metacity's enlargement of urban conditions - and thus the reduction of available space - new urban inventions might start to emerge. Looking at the world's available territories, only a scant percent of the earth's total surface currently can be imagined as usable urban space - for living, for industry, for agriculture, for water-cleaning, and so on. Seas, oceans (which increase due to global warming), mountains, jungles, deserts, polar zones all represent reductions of the 'usable' territory for the Metacity. Does this mean that we need to colonize the Sahel, the oceans, or even the Moon to fulfill the need for air and space - to survive? Or can we intelligently enlarge the capacity of our existing domain? This observation of considerable lack of space could trigger a series of extrapolations, scenarios, 'what-ifs'... Pursuing this sequence of hypotheses leads to a town of data.
Datatown, therefore, is not a design; it is not about mix or not-mix, about compositions or relations. It can be seen as a prelude to further explorations into the future of the Metacity, explorations that could induce a necessary round of self-criticism in architecture and urbanism, and even a redefinition of practice.
Datatown is based only upon data. It is a city that wants to be described by information; a city that knows no given topography, no prescribed ideology, no representation, no context. Only huge, pure data. What are the implications of this city? What assumptions can be identified? What agenda would result from this numerical approach? Datatown is based on an extrapolation of Dutch statistics. Though the Netherlands today seems a dreamland for econmics, culture, and production, it remains suspicious to follow its doctrine. But the accessibility of statistical information makes it a useful instrument for extrapolation. Datatown follows a classical (didn't the Dutch architect Carel Weeber repeat that recently?) approach of defining the boundaries of a city, namely that the urban size is equivalent to one hour of traveling. In the Middle Ages it was 4 km of walking.
In the 1920s the development of garden-city extensions was based on a bicycle-distance of 20 km. The mass use of the car lead in the 1980s to cities of about 80 km like the Randstad or Los Angeles. And now, with the bullet-train, the city can equal 400 km. Datatown can therefore be defined as a city of 400 by 400 km: 160,000,000,000 m2. Datatown is dense - let us say 4 times as dense as the Netherlands, one of the densest populations in the world.
In fact, with 1,477 inhabitants per square kilometer, Datatown is the densest place on earth. It is a city for 241 million inhabitants. It is the USA in one city. Datatown is autarkic. It does not know any foreign countries. It therefore has to be self-supporting. Its problems must be solved within its boundaries. Datatown is constructed as a collection of data. This information has been sorted and gathered in sectors, relative to the percentages of existing use in the Netherlands. Initially ordered alphabetically within a barcode field, the information was transformed for practical reasons: some zones need wider measurements in order to function properly.