Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 38

Thread: How to figure a large desert city (about 100,000 inhabitants) ?

  1. #1
      Mornagest is offline
    Guild Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    France, near Lyon
    Posts
    84

    Default How to figure a large desert city (about 100,000 inhabitants) ?

    Hi all,

    I'm actually trying to draw a city map, a big city with about 100,000 inhabitants. But... I'm not sure what is the best way to do this.

    If I figure every house and building, the map shall be... more than huge, I guess. Don't know if this is a good idea.

    But how could I figure less than every house ? Only display districts and important buildings such as keeps, temples and so on ?



    Another question would be : how dense the road net should be ? I saw straight-lined roads on some maps, and twisting on others. Maybe a mix of both, for such a large city ? Large and straight roads in importants districts (governement, noblemen...) and twisting for the others ?

    Thank you for your advices !

  2. #2
      Vellum is offline
    Guild Adept Gracious Donor
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    408

    Default

    Why don't you hunt down some historical cities with the population density (100K) that your after. This should give you a good starting point of land mass required and the transportation layout.

  3. #3
      ManOfSteel is offline
    Guild Member ManOfSteel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    86

    Default

    Some things to consider when determining the road and street layout of a city are:

    1) The geography of the site. Is it a flat valley floor or is it hilly? Flat terrain is more likely (but not necessarily) to have a grid layout. Rich people usually live in the hills, and the roads are curvy there.
    2) The history of the city. Is it an old city? It's more likely to have curvy, narrow streets. Newer cities would have been planned with cars and freeways in mind and therefore would have a network for people to drive in and out of suburbs.
    3) Are there important or historic buildings there? A cathedral? A stadium? A crowded downtown area? A shopping district? Those are going to have major roads leading to them.
    4) Is there a main thoroughfare like 5th Ave. in New York or Market Street in San Francisco? Major roads are going to provide access by way of linking directly or indirectly to it.

  4. #4
      Mornagest is offline
    Guild Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    France, near Lyon
    Posts
    84

    Default

    Hi,

    thank you for your answers !

    Quote Originally Posted by Vellum View Post
    Why don't you hunt down some historical cities with the population density (100K) that your after. This should give you a good starting point of land mass required and the transportation layout.
    Well, this is but a good and simple idea ! Thank you !
    Quote Originally Posted by ManOfSteel View Post
    Some things to consider when determining the road and street layout of a city are:

    1) The geography of the site. Is it a flat valley floor or is it hilly? Flat terrain is more likely (but not necessarily) to have a grid layout. Rich people usually live in the hills, and the roads are curvy there.
    2) The history of the city. Is it an old city? It's more likely to have curvy, narrow streets. Newer cities would have been planned with cars and freeways in mind and therefore would have a network for people to drive in and out of suburbs.
    3) Are there important or historic buildings there? A cathedral? A stadium? A crowded downtown area? A shopping district? Those are going to have major roads leading to them.
    4) Is there a main thoroughfare like 5th Ave. in New York or Market Street in San Francisco? Major roads are going to provide access by way of linking directly or indirectly to it.
    Argh, I didn't clarify myself ; this is a medieval-like city, it has much importance for its display...

    1) an almost flat terrain (some minor variations but nothing important)

    2) the city is only twenty-five years old, it has been specifically built to become the capital of the country

    3) there are important buildings such as temples for many deities, a palace for the emperor, and even a stadium (like the coliseum in Rome)

    4) there may be important roads like the 5th avenue, I guess the one that crosses the whole city for example.



    Thank you one again !

  5. #5
    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    2,371

    Default

    Also, Washington D.C. in the United States was a planned capital city and built very rapidly. It isn't in a desert, but its layout may give you some ideas. Look for 18th century maps; it had a population of over 100,000 by 1870.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
    http://www.bryanray.name

  6. #6
      waldronate is offline
    Software Dev/Rep Gracious Donor waldronate's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    The High Desert
    Posts
    1,395

    Default

    Planned Capital Cities | Museum of the City has some excellent links to some of the delightfully disastrous planned capital cities.

    The technology level of your city will have an impact on the city layout. A modern city will likely have relatively a hidden water supply and sewage systems combined with fairly prominent gardens/parks. Pre-industrial cities are more likely to have prominent aqueducts and likely open sewers with private gardens more likely than public. Pay special attention to the cultural heart of your city: Roman cities were built around the forum and its attendant temples/public buildings, while medieval cities wer emore likely built around a lord's castle and market.

    An important part of any city will be the slums. Lots and lots of slums, with their fetid lifestyles and regular fires.

  7. #7
    Guild Adept
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    306

    Default

    A medieval city, in the desert, built as a planned national capital? you don't have too many historic examples to choose from, if that's the brief.

    Here are some pointers:
    You should know the terrain. You say it is mostly flat - how flat? where are the bumps? how big are those bumps?

    This is a desert. Where do people get their water from? Is there an aquifer beneath the sand, so they can build wells? Is the city located near an oasis or a river? I've heard that in the deserts of western Peru in pre-Columbian times, people would set up nets to catch the dew that blew in off the Pacific Ocean - so if you're coastal you can get a small amount of water that way (although definitely not enough for 100,000)

    Next question: do you know why this site has been chosen for the city? If you are the leader of a nation, you are going to be extremely reluctant to site your brand new capital somewhere so inhospitable, unless you have a very good reason (eg. defence, cultural beliefs, keeping control over your subjects). Furthermore, historically it is rare for a nation to emerge in a desert environment. A quick scan of Wikipedia reveals that the Arabian peninsula, the religious heart of Islam, became politically peripheral - the capital cities were Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus; much more favourable climates.

    Remember, your city - no matter how important it is - needs to provide water and food to its citizens, be capable of attracting more people to live in it (being the centre of political power will bring a lot of people, but what other reasons do people have to settle here - will they have jobs? will they have security? if importing food is expensive, the cost of living is going to be high, so you want to be pretty sure you can find a decent wage before moving to the new city), have access to building materials (think how hard and expensive it is to get timber and stone into the desert, for example), not to mention dealing with the heat of the day. You also don't want your national capital to be too far from anything else - if a rebellion breaks out in some province, you might receive word too late to stop it.

    Of course, it's your world, and you are welcome to ignore all those questions. They can just bring everything they need by magic, if that's what you choose. Or there can be more realistic explanations (like Egypt, which had the Nile to provide water, food, transport of building materials, communications etc.). It's up to you.

    So, assuming you proceed with the city as you suggest, what should it look like?
    You definitely don't need to render every house. Medieval cities rarely, if ever, had free-standing houses and buildings. More often than not, you'd share at least one wall with your neighbour. There's nothing particularly modern about apartment buildings, either. The Roman insulae, for example, was basically just an apartment block. Of course, tall buildings need to be light, so you're getting back into the area of building materials. I started a map a while back that tried to represent the way different buildings would get packed together. The post is here: Practice Map - Arabesque city.

    As for important buildings, Waldronate is right - cities are often clustered around areas of power - from the sound of it, your city will have a prominent palace. But remember, most of the ordinary people will never have a reason to go to the palace. They'll be more likely to congregate around a plaza/forum (as W. said), a temple or temple complex, or a market. Having said that, your city might not have many of those things visible - who wants to spend their day in the hot desert sun? The markets, forums, plazas will all be roofed or covered up, as in the Isfahan bazaar.

    The stadium idea would probably also have some way of sheltering the crowd from the sun, but it can be an impressive public building nonetheless. But do they hold games/fights/tournaments every day? That would get very expensive. It might be an important building, but that doesn't mean people congregate there regularly.

    Lastly, the layout of the city and the road network. The idea of big avenues and grand vistas is quite a new one - it was essentially developed during the European baroque (~17th-18th C). The Romans and Chinese (and probably others) also had major avenues, but not for the same reason - the Romans, for example, used them to march soldiers down.

    That aside, follow the suggestions that others have made - look at maps and satellite images of cities for inspiration, but be sure what you are looking for. If you want examples of desert cities, look at Egypt, Africa and the Middle East.

    If you want planned cities, Waldronate's link is pretty good. My suggestion - steer clear of Washington DC (no offence meant to Washingtonians). Brasilia has an interesting design from the air, but it is much bigger than your city. You could try looking at Palmanova in NE Italy - it's a planned town from the Renaissance era, but it's population is only about 5500.

    The best city to look at is Canberra, Australia (yes, I'm biased). I don't think Canberra is very well known internationally, but it is still worth checking out:
    - It isn't very large (about 300,000)
    - It isn't very old (100 years exactly; although most of the city was only built in the past 50)
    - It was planned as a national capital, and has the things you're looking for (avenues, and important buildings)
    - It's design is more interesting than a simple grid (sorry again, Washingtonians)
    - Canberra may not be in a desert (we're mostly scrub and bushland), but this is a dry continent
    - If you look at Canberra, look carefully at the central area - you'll find that there are straight roads, twisty roads, and combinations of the two, which might help you solve that particular problem.

    Well, I only meant to give you a couple of tips, but looks like you got more than you bargained for. Hope all of that helps. I'll keep an eye on this post, if you have any more questions/clarifications.

  8. #8
      Mornagest is offline
    Guild Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    France, near Lyon
    Posts
    84

    Default

    Hi,

    Thank you for your answers ! I wouldn't expect that much

    I will try to clarify my ideas, this may really help to understand what I'm looking for...

    The world is Dungeons&Dragons, so it is medieval-fantastic, there are magic, deities, monsters and things like this. The capital city, Melandis, has been built on demand from a major deity, and its leaders are tyrannical, most of the inhabitants are poor and oppressed but faith guides them. It is watered (is it the good verb to say that ? crossed by a river ?) by a large river that provides fresh water for enough people, even if that water may not be completely safe to drink. I think in medieval times, this was not much considered...

    Economically, the city lives from trade (magical stuff, minerals, slaves, things like that) and has some military importance. Food is mainly carried from minor cities from the empire of Melandis, by boat (along the river) or road (there is a road that crosses the city, too).

    There are many temples in the city, as many deities are venerated. Logically, you would find more houses near temples than anywhere else.

    I imagine a small, rich quarter surrounded by a inner wall, and within, the palace. Outside, the rest of the city with slums, commercial quarter, river port... and another wall. And outside, some houses... or not ? Would it be logical to build houses outside the city wall, in a desertic area ?

    The desert is mostly flat, with sand/small rocks and rock bumps, but those are quite rare (there are none at the city's location). It would look like a reg.

    I looked a bit to the Google satellite view of Canberra, I think this would be quite the disposition I am looking for. Maybe a bit less regular (the central circle ? I don't know exactly), but this is great !

    Thank you once again for your answers, this helps me a lot

  9. #9
    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    2,371

    Default

    If the outer wall was part of the city's original plan, and the population is greater than what was originally planned for, then it is certain that there will be houses outside the walls. There will probably also be marketplaces, and perhaps warehouses, outside the walls where the roads enter the city. Caravans carrying bulk goods will sell to local merchants here so that large numbers of animals and carts are not clogging the gates and making a mess inside the city. Many local merchants who sell travel supplies and rare local wares will have booths here, as well, to sell to the caravaners and other transients.

    If the river provides some farmland, even if it is not enough to support the city, then there will be numerous farm houses running along the river outside the walls.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
    http://www.bryanray.name

  10. #10
      Mornagest is offline
    Guild Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    France, near Lyon
    Posts
    84

    Default

    OK, I see what you mean. To be honest, these are points we never cared about before, as city was "only" for background purpose in roleplaying, but with time, incoherences appeared and drawing the map could be the only solution to fix them, in my opinion.

    I guess there will be some buildings outside the gates because of the lack of space... or for convenience.

    Thank you !

    Last goal : imagine the style of the map... eh !

Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •