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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another World Architecture : Liberty City from Grand Theft Auto IV and her sister city, Bandung, Indonesia

Even though Liberty City is loosely based on New York City, I always have this strange feeling that this virtual city is based on my hometown, Bandung. The similarity between the two towns, I find, is strikingly similar.

Liberty City is Richard Rogers' worst nightmare: a city designed for those in love with cars. The former advisor to the London Mayor, should he visit, is more likely to be mowed down by an out-of-control automobile than sip an overpriced latte in a pedestrianised piazza peppered with parasols. Foreigners who visit Bandung should also be careful lest he/she will be mowed down not by an out-of -control automobile but by public transportation drivers and motorbike riders who think that they are playing a real-life version of GTA IV or Need for Speed.

Bandung-whether the citizens realize it or not-also is a city built NOT for people, but for cars and those in love with cars. Try using the sidewalk and soon you'll feel you're in pedestrian hell as you'll also fight for the walking space with street hawkers, not to mention the difficult accesibility for those with different ability. The comparison between public space and parking space is also very unfair you'd think people in this city never steps out of their cars.


It's really ironic since Thomas Karsten-the Dutch urban designer who built the city almost 200 years ago-designed the Bandung with the concept of "Garden City", an urban planning movement founded in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the UK. Garden cities were intended to be planned, self-contained, communities surrounded by greenbelts, containing carefully balanced areas of residences, industry, and agriculture. From this perhaps Bandung once nicknamed "The Flower City".

Back to Liberty City, Despite the evident dangers, people flock to live here. Perhaps its the dramatic sunsets, the coastal location or Liberty City's aesthetic affinity with the Big Apple.

People also still loves Bandung despite those things mentioned above, despite the "Flower City" nickname getting more irrelevant, and despite the city gets more "mechanopolitan" than "humanopolitan" (I probably should discuss these terms later). I personally hope Bandung should never becomes like Liberty City or I'll start jump into a car, looting and shooting everyone within my sight.


Wait, now that's an awesome thought!

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