Show Less
Restricted access

Alternative Worlds

Blue-Sky Thinking since 1900


Edited By Ricarda Vidal and Ingo Cornils

In an attempt to counteract the doom and gloom of the economic crisis and the politicians’ overused dictum that ‘there is no alternative’, this interdisciplinary collection presents a number of alternative worlds that were conceived over the course of the last century. While change at the macro level was the focus of most of the ideological struggles of the twentieth century, the real impetus for change came from the blue-sky thinking of scientists, engineers, architects, sociologists, planners and writers, all of whom imagined alternatives to the status quo.
Following a roughly chronological order from the turn of the nineteenth century to the present, this book explores the dreams, plans and hopes as well as the nightmares and fears that are an integral part of alternative thinking in the Western hemisphere. The alternative worlds at the centre of the individual essays can each be seen as crucial to the history of the past one hundred years. While these alternative worlds reflect their particular cultural context, they also inform historical developments in a wider sense and continue to resonate in the present.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

3 Atlas Swam: Freedom, Capital and Floating Sovereignties in the Seasteading Vision



Introduction: Launching the Seastead Idea

We begin this article at a reception in the Millennium Tower, the anchor of a city-sponsored effort to transform San Francisco’s gritty South of Market neighbourhood into ‘SoMa’, an up-scale, residential zone that would be linked to the adjacent financial district through ‘canyons of sleek glass’.2 The Millennium Tower was designed as a multifunctional space that would represent a new ‘dynamic urbanity that pulls housing close to office space and transit, all threaded by attractive strands of open space’.3 However, as often happens with New Urbanist projects, at some point between conceptualisation and construction many of the design innovations fell victim to financial exigencies. The building that eventually was constructed is an isolated high-income condominium tower that has few tangible connections with either the nearby financial district or the surrounding neighbourhood, and critics have deemed the project inappropriate for a city that, in contrast with so many of its counterparts in the ← 73 | 74 → US, retains a vibrant mixed-use downtown.4 The Millennium Tower thus can be seen as a memorial to the naïve belief that an organic community can emerge in a highly engineered environment. As such, it provided a fitting setting for the gathering that was taking place there on the evening of 28 September 2009.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.