Linear City Proposed as 'Solution To Our Ecological Problems'

Architect Gilles Gauthier proposes an update of Roadtown.

Linear City
Gauthier's Linear City .

Gilles Gauthier

In a recent post on linear cities, we mentioned some precedents, including Edgar Chambless's Roadtown, a design of a long, linear building with a railway in the bottom and a promenade on top. While researching the post, I came upon a more recent proposal for a linear city by Montreal architect Gilles Gauthier that struck me as a modern update of Roadtown.

"Gauthier’s Linear City brings several solutions to our ecological and sociological problems.
This architectural research aims at increasing our quality of life by bringing the country-side to the city and a public transportation more efficient than personal cars, that are a major source of noise and pollution."

Gauthier tells Treehugger: "This is my contribution to try to make cities for billions of people with functional public transport, ecological cities and better social contacts and this with a realistic transition."

drawing and section
Gilles Gauthier

Like Chambless a hundred years earlier, Gauthier puts the transport system at the bottom, but in three layers: a local metro/subway, a regular train, and then a TGV (train à grande vitesse, or high-speed train) at the bottom. One can also rent small electric vehicles and carts so that goods can be moved without the use of cars or trucks. It's also got the world's longest mall above that.

Gauthier proposes a very traditional way of arranging living and working on top of the shop:

"When present, the commercial area, at the main floor there will have shops and on the upper floors offices and factories. It is thus possible to live directly above the workplace, which will encourage some owners: by an economy of time and displacement, the ease for work mid-residence and mid-office, in the proximity of the children or a resting place, etc."
drwaing of building
Gilles Gauthier
"On the rooftop, we find a community park with games, a pool, a wading pool, a sauna, a picnic and sun-bathing areas, a shaded area, a gazebo, a small restaurant-bar as well as a reception room. The roof of the upper terrace with its activities, recreates the sociological benefits offered by the village, while taking advantage of public transport and conveniences of the city. Footpaths will link the different roofs to one another as well as indoor corridors."
Linear City Detail
Gilles Gauthier

As in earlier linear city proposals, advantages include being a building in a park, surrounded by green open space. It is repetitive, almost like being extruded, so Gauthier notes that construction costs could be significantly through industrialization and prefabrication. He notes that it uses 95% less land than conventional housing, which will "help to protect the agricultural land, essential to future generations, while decreasing the desertification and protect animal and plant life."

But like the other linear projects we have shown, it's also incredibly efficient; services like water, waste, and garbage collection all work better at lower cost in a linear system. But perhaps the most important is transportation, now responsible for 30% of carbon emissions.

"By providing an effective transportation system, we avoid buying automobiles and oil which contributes to reduce negative commercial balances. In addition, by stopping buying cars, we greatly reduced the cost of living of every citizen. The consumption of gasoline, reduced to almost nothing, would eliminate global warming as well as preserving this limited resource."
modern version
Gilles Gauthier

Gauthier shows a couple of different designs; this one is a bit more austere, as he notes that he is just providing the basic idea. He's even got one for fans of traditional architecture, complete with bay windows and gables at the top:

Traditional design
Gilles Gauthier

It can look like anything, Gauthier is promoting the idea of the linear city, not the cladding, and relinquishes all copyrights.

"The plans and documents of this project provide only an architectural programming, describing the functioning, the dimensions and an analyze the main elements. The modulation in 7 buildings allows of architectural variation and promotes membership. The building design, the landscape designs, the housing and public buildings outside city should be left to professionals of different countries to provide diversity."
Roadtown in Colour
Edgar Chambless Roadtown

Jarrett Walker once tweeted that "land use and transportation are the same things described in different languages." The linear city, in all of its incarnations, is a demonstration of how the transportation system really is driving the built form and the land use concept. They are one and the same thing. That's probably why I am so intrigued by it. There are a hundred years between Chambless's Roadtown and Gauthier's Linear City, but the only major difference is that of scale. The principles are the same, and make as much sense as ever.

See more at Gilles Gauthier's Linear City site, where he concludes: "We must not forget that we live on a planet which has its ecological laws to respect and that we must respect them if we wish to continue to live on this planet in a pleasant way."

Linear city model
Gilles Gauthier