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Stripes Building – Art by G. Stolyarov II

Stripes Building – Art by G. Stolyarov II

G. Stolyarov II
March 27, 2017

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The Stripes Building – a Minecraft creation by Mr. Stolyarov – is the next step in the beautification of the unfinished Aqueduct Plaza of the Minecraft Imperial City, a collaborative project coordinated by users Rigolo and Comeon, and freely downloadable here.

The most current version of the Imperial City, as expanded by Mr. Stolyarov, is downloadable here.

The Stripes Building replaces a former dark rectangular cavern. As its name suggests, this structure is characterized by distinctive striped motifs at various scales. It represents an attempt at a new esthetic in a new era – an era of great contrasts and the recurrence of both glorious and tragic developments both on an individual level and for the world at large. At the same time, this building endeavors to respect the architectural elements of great historical styles, while combining and illuminating them in a way that hints at a futuristic outlook.

The Stripes Building is situated on the opposite side of the Aqueduct Compound – its taller, airier, more optimistic cousin, which represents the forward-looking spirit of an earlier era. The Stripes Building is more nuanced and suggests that the future might turn out in a variety of ways, but there is still value in a structured, rational way of contemplating it.

Left-click for a full-image view of each screenshot. Right-click to download the image.

Aqueduct Compound and Staircase Buildings – Art by G. Stolyarov II

Aqueduct Compound and Staircase Buildings – Art by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
November 16, 2016

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Aqueduct Compound and Staircase Buildings

This set of structures was created to begin the beautification of a desolate plaza beside an unfinished aqueduct in the Minecraft Imperial City.  The main 15-story building replaced a previous cavernous outcropping (whose counterpart can still be seen on the other side of the plaza) and connects the aqueduct to the gardens on the other side. The building has an open floor plan on the inside, and one can see all floors simultaneously from most vantage points (clearly a structure meant for observation rather than routine occupancy – but the views are quite intriguing).

To render the plaza accessible, large staircases were constructed, doubling as roofs for three geometric conference centers featuring some experimental ornamentation.

This was the sporadic work of approximately 10 months. Everything you see in the airy/translucent white/turquoise/blue motifs was built by me one block at a time! These are actually some of the least traditional buildings within the Imperial City world, and this is possibly the stylistic direction in which modernism would have gone in an alternate, more rationalist-driven universe where the Enlightenment influence still predominated.

This structure was created within the Imperial City map in Minecraft, a collaborative project coordinated by user Rigolo and freely downloadable here.

Left-click for a full-image view of each screenshot. Right-click to download the image.

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Laissez-Faire in Tokyo Land Use – Article by Alex Tabarrok

Laissez-Faire in Tokyo Land Use – Article by Alex Tabarrok

The New Renaissance HatAlex Tabarrok
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Tokyo, Japan’s capital city, has a growing population of over 13 million people but house prices have hardly increased in twenty years. Why? Tokyo has a laissez-faire approach to land use that allows lots of building subject to only a few general regulations set nationally. Robin Harding at the FT has a very important piece on the Tokyo system:

Here is a startling fact: in 2014 there were 142,417 housing starts in the city of Tokyo (population 13.3m, no empty land), more than the 83,657 housing permits issued in the state of California (population 38.7m), or the 137,010 houses started in the entire country of England (population 54.3m).

Tokyo’s steady construction is linked to a still more startling fact. In contrast to the enormous house price booms that have distorted western cities — setting young against old, redistributing wealth to the already wealthy, and denying others the chance to move to where the good jobs are — the cost of property in Japan’s capital has hardly budged.

This is not the result of a falling population. Japan has experienced the same “return to the city” wave as other nations.House_Prices_2

How is this possible? First Japan has a history of strong property rights in land:

Subject to the zoning rules, the rights of landowners are strong. In fact, Japan’s constitution declares that “the right to own or to hold property is inviolable”. A private developer cannot make you sell land; a local government cannot stop you using it. If you want to build a mock-Gothic castle faced in pink seashells, that is your business.

But this alone cannot explain everything because there was a huge property price-boom in Japan circa 1986 to 1991. In fact, it was in dealing with the collapse of that boom that Japan cleaned up its system, reducing regulation and speeding the permit approval process.

…in the 1990s, the government relaxed development rules, culminating in the Urban Renaissance Law of 2002, which made it easier to rezone land. Office sites were repurposed for new housing. “To help the economy recover from the bubble, the country eased regulation on urban development,” says Ichikawa. “If it hadn’t been for the bubble, Tokyo would be in the same situation as London or San Francisco.”

Hallways and public areas were excluded from the calculated size of apartment buildings, letting them grow much higher within existing zoning, while a proposal now under debate would allow owners to rebuild bigger if they knock down blocks built to old earthquake standards.

Rising housing prices are not an inevitable consequence of growth and fixed land supply–high and rising housing prices are the result of policy choices to restrict land development.

The policy choices were made–they can be unmade.

tokyo-japanThis post first appeared at Marginal Revolution.

Alex Tabarrok is a professor of economics at George Mason University. He blogs at Marginal Revolution with Tyler Cowen.