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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Sim City: Welcome to Spacington

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Well, here it is: Spacington. The new look of 21st century urbanism- well, kind of. The truth is there is nothing here yet, and that is because this is just the beginning. Every week this plot of land, slowly or quickly, will become our Sim City version a 21st century urban city.

During the week the Spacing team and myself will attempt to develop Spacington into a walkable, densely populated, diverse cityscape. Borrowing some suggestions from urban theorists such as Jane Jacobs, Jan Gehl, and Ken Greenberg, as well as the LRT focus of 21st century urbanism, Spacington will become a simulated version urban city we all want. Check the blogs every Thursday and keep on track with our city’s evolution.


(Editor’s note: In the upcoming national issue of Spacing, senior editor Dylan Reid presents his outlook on urbanism for the next century)

Oh, and for all you Sims gurus out there, join in and comment on the cities development. Give us your suggestions, disagreements, or encouragement, and help us build Spacington into the best 21st century urban city.

It begins now folks, so post away will pre-planning suggestions.






  1. I think a more realistic approach would be to start off with a North American city of reasonable size relying on legacy infrastructure (coal plants, landfills, highways, minimal public transport etc.)  and see if you can update it to 21st century. Just not sure how you would do mixed-use zoning 🙂

  2. Regional rail, local-commute metro, surface LRT, and buses! (can SimCity do all those things? I haven’t played since 1.0)

    Mixed density, not towers and bungalows only!

    Godzilla-proof city walls!

  3. Fun. Please tell me you’ll be re-purposing that valuable timber.

  4. Can you actually build LRT in SimCity? I thouh the subway, surface rail and elevated rail were all heavy rail types. 

  5. Eeeeeee. You’re in for a real challenge… SC4 throws up insurmountable obstacles to non-Modernist development approaches.

    i.e. There are no options for mixed use development (each tile can only be residential, commercial, industrial or various institutional uses), and the transportation network stuff is both broken and barely existent.

    At the very least, you’ll need to install both the Rush Hour expansion and the Network Add-on Mod to get working transit/walking.

    That said, I wish you the best of luck and am looking forward to reading the posts.

  6. Rob Ford must have used not old, unadd-on version. If he knows how to use a computer that is.

  7. Rush-hour expansion is required for any sort of transportation management.

    City growth, population and quality will be limited unless you build complimentary connected cities on every region surrounding Spacington.

    High-tech industry is the devil.

  8. Yes, please do use the Network Add-on Mod. It’ll provide a much, much more realistic transport figure, as well as surface LRT options.

  9. Maybe you should let the developers know you’re doing this so they too can follow along and then develop updates as the current limitations are uncovered. Ultimately it could help educate a gaming public on current best practises in urbanism as opposed to reinforcing the old car-centric stereotypes.

  10. I think a grid of stadiums, amusement parks and shopping malls should do the trick. Plenty of highways of course. Make sure to start building subways once you’re run out of money.

  11. You should really check out Cities XL 2012, which offers a number of advantages over Sim City 4. For example, not only do you zone for density, but social class as well. You can plant your own specific bus routes and stops, and traffic pathfinding is much better as well.

    Best of all, it is in full 3D and is freakin gorgeous! 😀

    (going back to play some more, this game should be a controlled substance!)

  12. A network of water canals lined with parkland, walking routes, and bike paths. Think Amsterdam, re-designed.

  13. Wow, Cities XL looks awesome. Too bad it is Windows only. (though.. it not being available for OSX = I have a weekend)

  14. I’ve tried this myself a couple of years ago, and I got bored once I had a big enough region. My biggest pet peeve is that the game only updates cross-juridictional flows when you load the other city, I had thousands of commuters leaving the city only to loop around back to it (because after a certain point the game’s engine says that the nearest job is ‘next-door’ without checking what’s on the other side).

    But you can get quite a reasonable transit city. Trains work extremely well for long-distance comuting and are represented fairly realisticly (unlike subways whose stations are but one tile).

    I would also recommend Cities XL, but your transit options there are limited to bus and subways. And without significant modding, subways are less popular than buses. And the employment density of skyscrapers needs significant work (they employ fewer citizens than medium-density manufacturing). But the city generated looks pretty cool.

  15. Can you work with the people at Walk Score and maybe get them to add a “Spacington” address on their database. Then “residents” of Spacington, can input their own ratings of walkability for any given street or neighbourhood. This “user base” would give the project lots of eyes in the street.

    Looking forward to watching the project unfold. “Plan for everything and plan to alter nothing.”


  16. Hi! I am also an avid SimCity-er (although I have Rish Hour) and I would recommend you sign up at and start posting a city journal. In addition there are thousands of downloads based on real world buildings and imagined ones too. I have downloaded a number of buildings from Toronto and around Canada and have purchased the DVD (probably not worth it mind you).

    Regarding CitiesXL, I have the 2011 edition and find it hard to get going but once you do it is very realistic and has a number of advantages and disadvantages over SC4.
    Good luck and have fun!