It’s called “The Spider,” and, obviously, it’s based on the Swiss architect Le Corbusier being called in to design the city of Chandigarh (the capital of the states of Punjab and Haryana in India). I’ve never been, but the city is supposed to be both beautiful and livable. Despite that, I’ve always distrusted the concept of planned cities. Probably this comes from having grown up in another planned city: Washington, DC.
And while my hometown is a charming and graceful place, it’s also poorly designed in really simple ways that make life kind of complicated for its residents. In most cities, centers of commerce and industry spring up organically, in the areas that are most accessible. That’s why in Oakland, for instance, all the main roads–Telegraph, Broadway, San Pablo–converge on downtown Oakland.
In DC, on the other hand, all the major federal government buildings are placed athwart the National Mall, which might as well be called the national impediment to the free flow of traffic. Because of the mall, it’s so difficult to get across the goddamn city. And although the city has a number of major north-south corridors, there are almost no major east-west thoroughfares. In a normal city, this would be a self-correcting problem. Either the streets would be built, or it’d develop in a more compact way. But not in DC!’
Anyway, so I wrote a story about planned cities.
Razabad is a city of white stone and straight lines.This wasn’t always true: for a time, migrants tried to put up wavy shanties in empty lots and build huts of corrugated tin that leaned against the stone pylons of underpasses. They tried to live inside cement cylinders and within the few feet of space between the side of the tunnel and the side of the train. But the spider picked their tiny nests apart and tucked everything back into its proper place. The spider is the only thing in Razabad that is allowed to be curvy and jagged.