Instructions for a Dying Species... KERR © 2017

9 The Ring City Revisited

After consideration I have no reservation as to the efficiency of the Linear Form of Habitat over the Radial; the tangle of road net and subsequent congestion and slowing of traffic. No doubt a greater cost in infrastructure as well as more complex transit patterns.

Ring City Revisited

Not to mention a greater loss in power transmission over distance.

That said I have no reservations and remain adamant that the Ring is far more efficient than the Line. As well, that placing a city center at the center of a circle creates ‘spoke’ circulations which cause great consumption of energy. A ‘center’ or more than one could be placed along the perimeter of a Ring instead.

The following rough sketches are not to scale but convey the basic concepts. Sketches show worst case commutes in a Linear city as opposed to the worst commute in a Ring of the same length/population.

First sketch shows half the round trip commute in a Linear City. The round trip would be twice this distance. That is the metaphorical amount of gas you must put in the Prius!

This for the worst possible commute.

The second shows you that at any point along the perimeter of a Ring the farthest point away from you is 180 degrees, or across the diameter. So the commute is half the distance of the Linear commute. Half the amount of gas you must put in the Prius in the Linear.

Ring City Revisited-Layout

Even though the length and population of the two are the same!

So we know that the farthest commute in a Ring City is 50 percent less use of energy than the farthest commute in a Linear.

What is the average or mean efficiency?

Take a protractor, the plastic half circle with the straight bottom ruler edge, and set it on its end with 0 degrees at the base and 180 degrees at the top.

We are going to make four tick marks at equal distances along the arc of the perimeter between o degrees and 180 degrees. This will give us five equal segments each being an increment of 36 degrees. If 180 degrees was 50 percent more efficient than the linear then 144 degrees is 40 percent and 108 degrees has an efficiency of 30 percent and 72 degrees has a rating of 20 per cent while 36 degrees has an efficiency rating of 10 percent.

Now we add the efficiencies and divide by five which gives us a mean efficiency of 30 percent.

Ring City Circulation Pattern

Think of it this way.

Your urban mega regions using 30 percent less carbons for transport each year. This before you become even more efficient by replacing single family detached with a little more compact habitat. Row houses and some two and three story terraces. No monolithic megastructures!

Sketch opposite shows circulation if putting a City Center at the center of a perimeter habitat. Apart from circulations along the perimeter you have spoke traffic reminiscent of the diagram by Ebenezer Howard in his Garden City in the late 1800’s.

This creates radial flow. It does allow for most residents to be approximately a radius distance away from the center.

Sketch at bottom shows circulation pattern in a ring.

Less complicated flow. However, to give access to the residents along the perimeter to the functions of a city center requires two or three centers to be dispersed along the perimeter. Probably a better, less stressed arrangement anyway.

10 Organizing Without Structures

The failure of public agencies and bureaucracies to meet the needs and resolve or attempt to resolve issues we face as people has led to the establishment of many organizations in our communities and throughout the world who attempt to address a myriad of concerns. These groups have achieved a great deal with at times little or no resources.

There is however an inherent effect with any structure or organization. A social organization is two or more persons who form a group for a purpose. At that instant that an organization occurs it acquires other purposes and over time might become more of an institution in itself.

I recall not so long ago that a young person went ‘viral’ about financial fees being added to accounts and that the response was so great that corporations responded.

It would be greatly helpful if the public learned a set of skills by which they could resolve issue specific matters without permanent organizations. And once resolved, dissolve their ephemeral associations. Using clone techniques to spread models exponentially to reach many people without the need of structured organizations or burning out staff.

11 Design For An Efficient Air Transport

A recent proposed design for a blended wing body by TU Delft brought to mind an aircraft design from the 1990’s. Basically the fuselage or body started as a rectangular box with a tapered nose giving some slight lifting body attributes.

On either side of the nose struts rise forward from the base to support a wide stubby STOL wing which is positioned above the tapered nose.

The stubby ‘lead wing’ is not a canard, it does not extend beyond the dimensional plane of the box’s sides.

The struts blend into the sides of the craft and act for vertical stability in the nose. I am not sure about the position of the forward or lead STOL wing as to proximity or distance from the lifting body surface of the tapered fuselage’s nose.

Couldn’t decide how to get lift for the back end or tail of the box. Call me lazy, I got conventional and put two large vertical stabilizers at the back of the fuselage carrying another short but wide stubby wing section between them.

The interior of the ‘box’ is divided into two levels. The lower level is for passengers or freight while the upper level is for cellular chambers containing helium. This to increase MPG or efficiency.

There’s a problem when suggesting composite or hybrid designs.

The inclinations of the engineers.

Efficient Air Transport

If the guys are airship or lighter than air people they will go too far in that direction and it will be clunky and handle badly in weather.

If they are aircraft designers they will minimize space allocation for buoyancy until it is totally ineffective. “What a waste of space I could fit more seats there!”

Hey people, MPG.

The fuselage is very WIDE. That’s why you don’t want the wings extending beyond it.

My concerns are ground handling and pilot visuals dependent on the locations of cockpit to lead wing.

Following sketches show side view with nose and tail vertical stabilizers. If both tail and nose allow for rudder it could be more responsive.

As already mentioned the fuselage acts to some degree as a lifting body as well.

12 The Groundship or Landfreighter

It was sometime in the early 1970’s I had read a United Nations report stating that the problem with regard to an ongoing famine in Africa at that time was not production but distribution. Knowing that there was a lack of western style infrastructure over vast distances it occurred to me that the people in these regions had two choices.

Either to mimic the infrastructures of the west with regard to paved roads and bridges and rail lines or to develop their own technologies which could traverse distances to some degree independent of infrastructures.

Having some knowledge of the capabilities of two different types of transporters, the air cushion vehicle or ACV or as it is sometimes referred to as a SEV or surface effect vehicle and the airship, it occurred to me that a composite of the two different types would combine their abilities.

There were two objectives of this new type.

One. To transport freight and passengers with as little expenditure of fuel as possible.

Two. To operate over areas which do not have developed infrastructure such as the Sahel.

ACVs or hovercraft can cross water bodies or rivers without bridges providing a moderately sloped ramp could be provided or maintained. They can also cross grasslands providing the terrain is not too rough, however they neither require paved surfaces nor rail beds.

On the downside they use fuel with less economy.

Airships on the other hand are very efficient. They achieve this efficiency through the principle of aerostatics. They contain large buoyancy chambers filled with helium which is lighter than air. This enables it to traverse large distances consuming little fuel.

Its downside is that its capacity for payload is small.

The Groundship has some chambers or buoyancy tanks within its hull or fuselage which enables it to achieve greater efficiency, not to fly. As well, it has greater capacity to carry freight or passengers.

At the time between the early 1970’s and 1977 I had sent descriptions to at least three aerospace corporations who were affiliated with ACV development as this seemed to me to be the most appropriate fit. I believe I recall contacting Saunders & Roe, British Hovercraft and Bell Aerospace.

As well there were attempts to interest various other organizations.

The following rough early sketches show the original concept which I now feel was impractical. The early versions used a buoyancy tank in the bow and another in the stern of the frame. Around this time there were proposals by others for oceanic hydrofoils which I do not think would have been practical either.

Dragonfly was to be a student build prototype using light alloy which never happened.


Groundship Design Revision 2015

Transport design for regions which have no road net nor rail lines.

Operated by a cooperative or several cooperatives of multi-national consortiums, integrating regional interests.

Because of its size it does not enter built areas but integrates with existing systems extending them deep into remote regions.

The current design is lighter more carbon fiber than alloy.


It is smaller and bi-level. Freight on the lower level the upper level containing helium filled cells. The upper top not load bearing but just a shell to cover the helium cells and provide fairing to reduce drag.

Support by a lead pad which feels the terrain and side pads for support.


Crawler or Centipede or Caravan was an alternative to the Groundship to provide transport to remote interior areas in Africa.

This would be a ‘train’ of segmented articulated sections that are steerable and might be individually powered.

These units would have extremely large tires or as the Brits spell it tyres.

I have seen pictures of semi-trailer trains in I believe Australia and I have in the past seen a design for a small transport perhaps military that had two or three articulated sections. These would be larger and allow crew spaces.

These would probably run 24/7 and being large would stop outside of built areas to offload or interchange with conventional transport. Like the Groundships.

The Sunflower Project

13 The Sunflower Project

Sunflower goes way back. It was pretty much an out there concept. The original was too much machinery and now it could be done with much less hardware.

The concern was the increasing desertification of regions of Africa. The gist of it was to put more moisture into the atmosphere somewhere within enough proximity to coastal areas that seawater could be piped to evaporating pans or surfaces. It was called Sunflower because of the ring array of mirrors or petals around the evaporation discs.

A ring is overdone as the ‘petals’ could turn or rotate and thus a small arc of mirrors on an arc of track would suffice.

Accumulations of salt would be gathered as product. Locations would be dependent on prevailing wind patterns.

Estimates of the ability to evaporate films of brine could be extrapolated from small units.


14 VENT-Venturi Effect Wind Turbines

In Bernard Rudofsky’s book, Architecture Without Architects are photographs of roof scapes in a city in India. There are rows of tall thin angular structures rising vertically from the roof tops. These structures are cooling towers which generate drafts. Venturi, the Italian physicist, experimented with the effects of a constriction in a vessel noting that the flow increased.

In nature we note the high winds generated along river gorges or the updrafts along cliff faces.

To know whether a slot or vertical chamber could generate enough force to turn a turbine you would have to build a model. As well you would want to know if a series of constrictions could run a series of turbines.

Most likely the shape of such a blade would be a spiral or helical lateral form anchored at both ends by turbines in a slot or shaft.

Although sites for such an application would be limited if the concept worked it would not be weather dependent.

15 Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle

This light armored vehicle concept is roughly based on the layout of a snowmobile but scaled up in size proportionately. Like the snowmobile it has a single centrally mounted track underneath running from the rear up towards the front. Which as you can imagine gives it great ground clearance.

Unlike the snowmobile there are two rows of wheels along both sides from the front of the vehicle back not quite to the rear. A small pair of what I called ‘lead’ wheels set at an angle in front to lift the vehicle up over obstacles.

Good design. Faster than other track vehicles-only the single track to run. Better traction than wheeled.

Cadillac-Gage didn’t acknowledge receipt of drawings, General Dynamics Land said ‘interesting’ but thought I was looking for a job. Bombardier was interested in a part but the engineer renamed the lead wheel called it a roller bumper. I don’t know why people insist on naming something you came up with by their own words?

These old smudgy number two pencil drawings are from the 70’s.

Think I saw an ATV design that was a double row of wheels recently but I don’t think anyone has combined with a single fast track.

Sketches are rear and side views.

Couldn’t draw the lead wheels very well.

The idea of skid plates is a rough way of dealing with terrain. If at all possible it would be better to transfer the impact in some lateral manner. A wheel or some other manner would be less damaging.

Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle, Side-view
Armored Reconnaissance Vehicle, Rear-view

16 On Ideologues

In the first volume I briefly mentioned totalitarianism and utopias in conjunction with architecture. Feel that I must chew on this more at the risk of irking just about everyone on the planet.

If I were talking about issues or the environment to an Adam Smith free market person they would probably assume that I was a socialist or worse.

If it was a socialist they would assume that I was a capitalist.

Not neither please.

I am opposed to all ideologues. None are actually possible despite any amount of expended violence to attempt to establish or assert.

All these are fantasies. They are not real and clinging to them makes it improbable that any real progress or communication would be possible.

17 On Racism

Racism will end when there are no races. When we are so mixed that making an issue of how much Asian or African or Caucasian we have by percentage would appear ridiculous if not snobbish. Personally I would have liked a little mocha color myself but I have what I have.

Not trying to suggest a fad. We all see those matchmaking ads on the television. If you consider that you are looking for person ‘right’ wouldn’t you be limiting your ‘pool’ by making too many criteria. Not what tint of a pantone swatch but how kind or thoughtful.

Not being facetious. It would be nice if it could be so simple.

Unfortunately some are still killing others over Tribal. Very recently two women were driving through a village and were stopped by security people. The security people could not tell by their looks what tribe they were from so they demanded that they speak words in the local dialect. When they could not one thing led to another and they were killed. This not over nationalism, not over race but over tribal group.

We must integrate not devolve. The more we integrate, the more we become global, the less conflicts and wars.

18 Recycling Revisited

Now it is a four point program.

First we have a bottle deposit/redemption program.

Second we add a bonus to the consumer by weight of the material of a percent of the market value of that material at the time it is brought in which bonus is put into a computer account under their name to accrue over time.

Third we add when necessary a variable subsidy when the market value is too low to support the operations.

Fourth we engage the existing players by either incorporating existing contractors or offering preferential to displaced workers of any closed operation who want to run a recycle center.

Language? Survey the ten existing programs asking managers what format they would like if they could get their choice and use the common points.

It is critical that the Survey and the resulting policy not be written by technocrats. It would certainly fail.

Imagine a room and in this large space are folding chairs. In one a Hispanic sits. In another a woman is seated. Another chair is occupied by a black and so forth. In a corner of the room by themselves and facing the wall away from the others sits an ecologist who is sending emails to the program managers and talking to their self about the policy they will write. The technocrat finds a lawmaker to present or introduce a bill which fails to pass.

What is called social engagement is marginalizing and controlling. The people who are the base should not be ‘part’ of the process, THEY are the PROCESS.

If they were to make the communications and then share with each other the results they could then together write a policy which would be theirs and they would enable it. Elites are not self-appointed bureaucrats. Nor are they a base.

To seek to control matters is a form of self-promotion and a type of greed or corruption.

19 A design vocabulary for architects & urban designers of the future.

The perfect urban form for circulation is the Ring. Not radial growth, not a Linear.

The Ring City has no center in the middle of the space. If you were to put ANYTHING there you would ruin the efficiency. The shape, the form is a mechanism in itself.

The built area is a narrow band along a perimeter. The efficiency is in the Form.

‘Centers’ in a Ring City are concentrations of shopping, dining, special services and social spaces. Two or more of these centers are dispersed along the built perimeter. There must be at least two centers. Why?

The old city center in the Radial City was a hub and although inefficient an arrangement or form did allow that peripheral communities were somewhat equidistant from services and social spaces.

Urban Design, Sighting


NEVER place the center of a piazza or plaza directly on the centerline or axis of a boulevard or avenue. In the case of the Ring City it is the arc. What might look good on a drafting board does not look or feel right on the street.

Offset the center.

Do not repeat the same offsets with other centers.

The piazza or center does not have to be one large open space. There could be a large sweeping space with another moderate space adjoining it and perhaps an even smaller intimate space as well.

All these connected through archways which might vary in width. All such center spaces have terraced residential above the shops as well as cafés along their inside and outside faces. The facades have planting and water features none of which is copied or repeated elsewhere.

A great city has variety. It has textures. It is unique.

Urban Design, Examples

It is the work of many not a template.


Especially along the levels of the piazza buildings but as well along the facades and the skylines of the residential areas.

NEVER continue constant story lines for structures for too far a distance. You do not want a perfect wedding cake. You want texture. Break the lines often.

Drop them. Raise them. Recess small sections.

Punctuate the skyline, the facades.

More like the natural broken lines of canyons.


NEVER continue the line of an arc or the axis of an avenue for too far a distance. Break the visual perspective of a constant line with slight gradual curves. These go out from the base arc or axis then curve back into it but NEVER use the same radius lengths going out and coming back. That would appear mechanical.

A more gradual curve back in than the initial curve out appears more natural, as the channels or streambeds in nature.

As well, to break monotony, the width of a green space between street lanes can be widened briefly but smoothly.


To soften the transition between two very different housing prototypes a small green space between the two might help. As well, if for example a line of row houses meets a line of terrace housing, the initial part of the terraces’ structure could face not the street but towards the row houses, thus presenting a gradual rise rather than an abrupt one before turning to face the street.

Further the section of either type along the green space could have their mid units recessed back from each other. These help transition or flow different forms together. NEVER have the layout of opposing residential types even or straight along transition spaces.


These are comfortable setbacks from the street and traffic. Here comfort is meant in a sense of protective feeling. I once was walking along a street and to one side of me there was an empty bench beside the busy traffic. To my other side people were sitting on a very physically uncomfortable rocky retaining wall for a church whose frontage was set back from the busy street.

If you are making a protective BAY you might apart from seating have a vendor or small café. Possibly you could include planting and an entry point into a neighborhood or barrio.

Is Your Species Dying?

20 Why Malls Fail

Of the issues heard I have not seen the most significant. We have such short memories.

Do you recall the neighborhood bakery or the family diners on Main Street? Or the unique stores of the old city centers? They were independent startups some lasting generations. They aspired to excellence.

The Malls?

The shops along their ‘streets’ all owned by one person- CORPORATE. Likelihood of startups or individual ownership is doubtful. This is about TITLE. When many own properties there is greater flexibility. The shopping districts of the new cities must not be left to development corporations. That would be the quick lazy way to mediocrity.


Copyright © 2017 John Kerr
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John Kerr, PO Box 410171, Melbourne, FL 32941. United States