The historic ills of urban land redevelopment has often been the result of picking sides. It’s a polarization between urban dwellers and planners, with institutions, such as lending and governmental entities, hard-pressed to support one or the other. Denying or providing credit access to residents, deciding whether or not an area is in need of “urban renewal”, and enforcing laws that institutionalize these decisions are some of the major factors that impact urban conditions and the quality of life of those affected.
More often than not, these “David and Goliath” see the removal of existing communities to make way for mass produced housing structures, urban malls, new highways and highway extensions, to name a few.
It is also apparent that the racial and socio-economic makeup of a community plays a significant role in whether they are considered “slums” and in need of “renewal”. Though this is brief and highlights only a few of the players and processes behind urban land redevelopment, it can be said that community cohesion is incredibly sensitive to change, good or bad.
Analyzing some of these issues, a Youtuber by the name of donoteat01 has created an engrossing series called Power, Politics & Planning, in which he uses the video game Cities: Skylines to illustrate the impacts of urban planning decisions in great detail.
Cities: Skylines is an open-ended city-building simulation where players engage in urban planning by controlling zoning, road placement, taxation, public services, and public transportation of an area. Donoteat01 uses the in-game graphics as a way to demonstrate the human and built environment implications of poor urban planning.
The series covers a range of hot topics, such as parking, gentrification and public housing. Coupled with his understated, dry-humored delivery, these films are an informative and engaging watch.
As shown above, Episode 2 is on the topic of urban highways and the negative impacts they can have on existing communities. He presents a scenario in which a neighborhood undergoes partial demolition due to the construction of a new freeway. He tells us a bit about the lives and fates of inhabitants whose properties were condemned and destroyed as a result of eminent domain.
Though these stories are imagined rather than being real-world case studies, Donoteat01 visually depicts situations that have occurred time and again in reality. While the subject matter may be hard for urban planners to swallow, these videos are educational, entertaining, pragmatic and highly applicable to everyone. What’s not to like?
Donoteat01 also writes Medium posts about urbanism.