The Eggs of Price: An Ovo-Urban Analogy

Your city is an egg. Most likely a scrambled one. 

As an architect, Cedric Price (1934-2003) was such a visionary that he inspired the Centre Pompidou in Paris and anticipated the London Eye rather than actually design those things himself. 


Price’s supposed brilliance is hard to gauge, as very few of his designs were actually built - the most famous exception being the aviary at London Zoo. But if genius is the ability to convey complex information in simple images, then Price had me at egg.

The city as an egg, to be exact. Price condenses millennia of urban evolution into three types of egg: boiled, poached and scrambled - in that chronological order.

From its origins in the mists of time up until fairly recently, the urban form resembled a hard-boiled egg. The city was a dense, compact centre, protected by defensive walls from the evils of the wider world.

Cannon power eventually rendered city walls obsolete, and most were rased from the 17th to 19th century. 

This, together with the rapid growth of population and industry around that time, caused cities to expand rapidly. This is the poached-egg model: the core retains its ancient function as the place of reference and the seat of power, but it is surrounded by expanding rings of residential and industrial areas, and infrastructural networks providing utilities and transportation.

But the centre cannot hold. Like a star at the end of its life, the core of the city collapses under the weight of its own sprawl. The car has made it much easier (and cheaper) to live, work and shop near the ring roads than in the choked middle of town. This, the scrambled-egg model, is also the most relevant type of urban development today. 

And what type of egg will the city of the future resemble? This will probably depend on the future cost of mobility, which might become too prohibitive to sustain the present, scrambled-eggs model.

Already, the rising cost of commuting into London is creating a trend of ‘inward mobility’ - people moving from the suburbs into the city. Is the end of oil going to empty out the edges of big cities, leading to smaller, denser metropolises? Or will renewables-based transportation be successful enough to enable cities to continue sprawling into Earth’s increasingly rare open spaces? And does anyone know any good egg recipes for either scenario?

Many thanks to Stijn Meuris for sending in this map, found here at the Egg and Chips blog.

Strange Maps #534

Got a strange map? Let me know at strangemaps@gmail.com.

Compelling speakers do these 4 things every single time

The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think

Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rally at the Anaheim Convention Center on September 8, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)
Personal Growth

The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.

Keep reading Show less

Intimacy and sexual desire in couples can be heightened by this practice

Researchers discover a link between nonverbal synchronization and relationship success.

Pixabay
Sex & Relationships
  • Scientists say coordinating movements leads to increased intimacy and sexual desire in a couple.
  • The improved rapport and empathy was also observed in people who didn't know each other.
  • Non-verbal clues are very important in the development stages of a relationship.
Keep reading Show less

How 'dark horses' flip the script of success and happiness

What defines a dark horse? The all-important decision to pursue fulfillment and excellence.

Big Think Books

When we first set the Dark Horse Project in motion, fulfillment was the last thing on our minds. We were hoping to uncover specific and possibly idiosyncratic study methods, learning techniques, and rehearsal regimes that dark horses used to attain excellence. Our training made us resistant to ambiguous variables that were difficult to quantify, and personal fulfillment seemed downright foggy. But our training also taught us never to ignore the evidence, no matter how much it violated our expectations.

Keep reading Show less