In 2010 and 2011 I lived in Texas. On my first job in Texas I was given access to a computer program that is developed to allow the creation of flow sheets. I have used it before, and the software is called Visio – it’s not exactly the best graphical program in the world, but it does it’s job well, if that job is to connect lines together.
I found working in my own office limiting – I rarely had anyone walk past and say hi, and those who did come we had lengthy chats about music and comic books. But idle chit chat was missing, like the 30 second “How’s it going?” kind I get all the time in an open planned office. Couple all that with boring lunch hours, I decided to start experimenting with Visio.
From a young age I had liked to sketch road layouts, originally as a messy road system to a structured city, and then into extremely complicated road junctions between motorways and various other roads. These are interesting sketches, ones that are detailed to the hilt and have logic within them. I can understand someone thinking that the sketch is boring or wondering why anyone would like to draw a full road junction, but thinking of the best ways to route traffic and build structures actually feels like a teased out relief for me – I love backing myself into a hard corner and then engineering, in a sense, a way out.
Prior to Texas though, my roads were always snapshots of a fake city, somewhere that had no connection, no meaning. Even if I tried I couldn’t conceive of the scope for a city, at least not until Visio came in. Because before where there had been A3 sheets and endless pencil markings, Visio gave me a literally unlimited space, and unlimited erasing, and the other advantage of being able to delete and re apply – any change could be undone in an instant if I didn’t like it.
So, I started with a simple river and a small, singular bridge. And from there I built up as organically as I could muster from January to August 2011 a city that could really exist. The city was called Yeardley, and it stands as my most ambitious attempt at city sketching I have ever done.
In the city are roads, motorways, train lines, light railway lines, airports, universities, chemical plants, stadiums, forests, parks, rivers, lakes. In fact, the City became a County – Yeardley is the main city in the county of Braxton, another fictitious place. But with the increase in size came the advantage of commuter towns and further afield transport plans. And they all evolved at an organic pace.
In the coming months in 2012 I will explore my city to laborious detail, first detailing the way I did it, and the logic, before going onto the infrastructure that I developed, the history that I invented for the city, and then go into detail for most of the major features, such as the Airport, or the Motorways. I hope that this will give you an insight into my mind, and maybe let you understand exactly why I developed this city.
And maybe you’ll find it interesting too. I have a massive PDF file of the city that will be made available over time, but in the interests of explaination and understanding, here's a small snap shot of the city; the city centre of the Fictional City of Yeardley. Hopefully you find this at least partly interesting.