City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

14 Cities: Fractal City

Written in



Part of the 14 Cities series: 

"An output of the most stringently applied planning codes possible, the Fractal City comprises most of the new City of Newcastle, NSW, rebuilt after the Great Earthquake of 2019.

In a twist of fate, only the unloved CBD of the original city remained standing, and is still home to the thriving small business culture that had inhabited the near-derelict buildings before the earthquake. Yet most of the rest of the city could be redesigned from scratch.

With its previous zoning failures in mind, the City took the concept of the fractal, and applied it to a form-based code. This meant that no area was zoned as one function. No suburb was solely residential. No business district was solely commercial. The city could be read as a mixed-use development at every stage.

An individual apartment was often home to production as well as residential and leisure activities, due to the predominance of knowledge industries and new smart manufacturing. The apartment complex could also be read as a local aggregation of production, residential and leisure activities. Though the emphasis shifted from block to block, no one component did one thing only. Each block could be read as an aggregation of these apartments, and each suburb an aggregation of these blocks.

Thus the city has multiple focal points for work, rest and play. Each apartment is a CBD."

Notes: For me, the least successful of this series. Perhaps a bit too 'planning-geeky'. Although there's a core (though not exactly new) idea in there about a fractal approach to urban elements that would inherently defy crude zoning, it doesn't really come across.


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