The Growth-Ring City, Or the City of Eternity
XINYI WANG (M.Arch ’16)
All seeds disperse from the central point. It’s a white sphere structure with an opening, spinning at a constant speed. Behind the opening is a passage leading down to an underground structure, enormous but unseen from the ground. Every minute there comes out from the door a newborn human baby. The brain of the city generates the child’s 25-digit identification number. It is then translated into a human name, with a pronunciation.
Surrounding the central structure is another ring of 12 rooms. It appears as 12 evenly spaced doors in a perfect circle. The human children are carried into these doors. They stay inside this ring for a whole year, bred and recorded. The space between the ring and the sphere is filled with children who’ve already mastered the art of crawling. They mix with each other before they are picked up and brought back behind their doors at bedtime.
The back doors of the twelve rooms open at the end of the year. They lead to a yard surrounding the circular structure and reveals a larger circular structure. 24 doors are spaced evenly on the façade of the structure. In there the children will be bred and educated for the next year. In the yard, children toddle. It takes two hours for them to make a round.
There is always another ring. Each ring is the habitat for one year. The children go into the front doors at the beginning of a year and leave from the back doors at the end of the year. The rings become larger and the yards get wider. As there are more doors on the ring they share the room with less and less people. At their eighteenth birthday, they finally have their own rooms. On this eighteenth ring, it takes a year to walk around the circle.
The residents never meet anyone outside of their generation. They were born at the same point in time and space; but along the way they have less and less people around. They always share with each other. They accommodate themselves in different rooms, get their education in different areas, and enjoy different hobbies. But all these are on the same ring at the same time. It is always their generation, their era. No one tries to instruct them, nor blame them. They do no harm.
As the residents get a room of their own, they start to name the room “home”. From this year on, they can carry their room to the next ring, on account that all residential rooms are the same size. At the moment the back doors to the future open, they have the freedom to leave anything behind. It is the moment they modify their past towards the future. Only, they cannot get anything back once they decide to throw it away. The things left behind are demolished the moment the next generation moves in.
They are free to sleep in someone else’s room, as well as to lend their room to others. But their room is always in their name. They are always on their own. Sometimes two of them share a bed for years and years on end, but upon death they are buried separately. No one knows about pregnancy. They were sterilized back in the central sphere. Offspring does not concern them.
As the rings get larger, the yards in between the two rings become streets. There are perpetual buses going along the streets in both directions. The residents take buses to move between their workspace and their home. But there is no appointed shuttle for workers or students. Everyone shares the same carriage. There are all kinds of entertainment spaces on the ring. Not all of them are in balanced space. At the outer rings, the diameter is so large that some of the residents never make it to a cinema. In some other parts of a ring, the lucky locals can even enjoy a real river or a forest, which occupies a section of the street space.
Knowledge in the growth-ring city is handed down in the form of facts and conclusions. They never call it inheritance. There are no traceable origins of their knowledge. Deduction is the naïve game of childhood. Books are the only things that remain with the building. It is also the resource of their knowledge. With the advancement of age comes the chance to get closer to knowledge. The most esteemed scholars are those who have the best memory.
All their life the residents try to memorize as much facts as possible. A chat always starts from a display of facts and normally ends with another display of facts. The other favorite topic of their discussion is their feelings and emotions. They know too many adjectives. Sometimes their real feelings are confused with the rhetoric of their feelings.
The residents of the city do not mourn death. They do not owe each other any responsibility. They are bred by the city and serve only the city. Upon a friend’s death, dinners and parties go on as usual. People are sad only when the deceased is the entertainer.
There is no history in the growth-ring city. The residents never know where their city comes from, nor where it’s going. The gates towards the future open once a year, but those from the past never open once they shut. No one ever thinks about it. They are too excited about moving forward. They all come from the past but only know about going to the future.
Personal memories are carefully preserved for everyone. No one has the intention of turning it into history. For those close to each other, they share their memories. But there is no memory for their living space. Their memory can never be associated with the memory of space. There is no need for history.
The city thus goes on and on. Its only halt in time was at its coming into being. The residents are rather happy with it.