Saturday, June 25

Kowloon – The densest dark lawless city in history that inspired the “perfect” city in SimCity 3000

The walled city of Kowloon came to be called the “City of Darkness.” A suffocating city that became the place with the highest population density in history, with more than 1,250 million inhabitants per square kilometer. In the 1990s it had 50,000 inhabitants, all of them concentrated in only 2.6 hectares. To get an idea, Paris, Seoul or New York are below 20,000 inhabitants per square kilometer.

Kowloon was demolished in 1994 after several decades of uncontrolled construction, neglect, prostitution and drugs. A hive city that nobody would want to live in and that inspired the “perfect” city of SimCity 3000. A curious case of how the desirable can be so far removed from what machines and video games consider successful.

A city in the purest cyberpunk style

Located within prosperous Hong Kong, Kowloon had city status in 1842. During World War II it was conquered by the Japanese and virtually the entire wall was torn down. After the war, Kowloon became a haven for gang members and began operating on the fringes of the rest of the world. including the Hong Kong police who did not dare to enter.

Much of the images we have of Kowloon are thanks to the photographer Greg Girard, which together with Ian Lambot launched a book dedicated to the “City of Darkness”. The description of the city fits the darkest cyberpunk. The lower floors received almost no sunlight and the inhabitants of the upper floors swept down to further promote that social ladder. As they describe in the book, the inhabitants described life in the city as a “harmonious state of anarchy.”

In the late 1970s the city began to grow disproportionately. But the problem was that it could not grow in width, since the terrain was marked by the original wall. Instead it grew upwards, with blocks of up to 14 stories, which was the maximum allowed so as not to obstruct Hong Kong’s air traffic. And this is precisely where the origin of the extreme density of the city is born, limited in width as well as height.

The widest streets were barely a meter wide and all the building blocks were literally on top of each other, as if a large sheet of steel compressed in all four directions. An architectural chaos that contrasts with the harmony of Hong Kong.

Magnasanti: totalitarianism to pass SimCity

Kwc Night

In SimCity there is apparently no set ending, but Vincent Ocasla managed to find the “perfect” city in which a point was reached where the game would function autonomously. And to achieve this he was inspired precisely by a city as dystopian as the one we are talking about today.

Following Kowloon’s type of construction and laziness, Ocasla built the city of Magnasanti, with 6 million inhabitants and where the births of citizens compensated for the deaths, taxes, expenses, and every square centimeter was occupied by the maximum possible number of inhabitants.

It is a pity that to achieve the best result in SimCity the best solution was to bet on totalitarianism and the worst possible lifestyle for the inhabitants. Magnasanti was capable of spending centuries in the game. A well of despair with no schools, no schools, no hospitals, no firefighters. How is it possible for such a city to prosper? Basically because in the game the inhabitants had such a short life expectancy that they died before arming themselves against the iron owners of the city.

“It is a sickly and twisted target. The irony of all this is that the Magnasanti sims tolerate it. They do not rebel or organize riots or generate social chaos. No one considers challenging the system with physical means because there is a hyper-efficient police state that prevails. keeps at bay “, Explain to Vice the author of the city.

Technically, no one can leave or enter the city. Population growth is stagnant. Sims don’t have to travel long distances to get to work. In fact, they don’t even have to leave the block they live on. They always go to the same place, “continues Ocasla. An extreme example that can serve to reflect on how societies are built and developed. Magnasanti may seem impossible that it would have a place in our world, but being inspired by a real city is as fascinating as it is distressing.

Images | Library of congress | Wikimedia

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