The role of the Lotter, the Human Recharge Stations and how Urban Geography “recycling” repurposes “stuff” for cities and even the regions
Builders, Lotters and Modders. Urban Geography. Urban Simulators. Human Recharge Areas. Recycling.
Probably the first question you are going to ask me is: “Ben why the Lexicon Soup?” That is a good question. On its own those mish-mash of words would not mean a lot but when they are put together and given context it all becomes one logical and assembled puzzle.
In this post I will illustrate three different threads on one common element before binding the threads together to produce the final outcome. The first thread will be on a story overseas that had a useful idea that would work here in the South Pacific. The second thread will be on a skill Sim City and Cities Skylines players can learn to further enhance their urban creations. The final thread is on Urban Geography which will then conclude on how Lotters are the Urban Geography recyclers.
The Context: Demark and EV Charging Stations
I was forwarded an article from Denmark where the Danes are converting their conventional gas stations into EV Charging Stations. Now we know to gas a car with petrol, diesel or even Hydrogen takes a few minutes at best. EV (electric vehicles) even a super charge fast averages around seven minutes unless the place allows an instant battery swap (useful for trucks and buses). That is seven minutes of twiddling your thumbs while the kids riot in the back seats (as well as kicking the front seats). To adapt to seven minute charging situation the Danes decided to make EV Charging Stations (that are not attached to places like malls or a McDonalds) human experience places – that is a place to grab a coffee, take a pee, change a nappy and/or sit in a green space drinking said coffee while the kids burn off some energy in the playground.
So I thought to my south can this be done in the South Pacific and more to the point can I simulate it to demonstrate the concept working. So I did.
The article by the way is here: These beautiful electric charging points are the gas station of the future
With the label ‘Human Recharge Station‘ I booted up Cities Skylines, opened my existing large city – Manukau and set about using existing assets to build three different types of Human Recharge Stations (Small, Medium, Large).
The premise for the Human Recharge Stations was the same no matter the class: a place to charge the EV Car while able to take a rest break which consisted of (but not limited to):
- Toilets including baby changing stations
- Food outlets (from food trucks to coffee kiosks to full blown food joints like McDonalds or cafes
- Gardens/parks/sitting areas
- Retail (gas stations, repair centres, supermarkets and shops) (Medium and Large Human Recharge Stations only (gas stations and repair shops are found only in Large Human Recharge Stations))
- Large Human Recharge Station also has a library/book store. A library you ask? Well if it is hosing with rain maybe a good book for an hour or so while “recharging” over a cup of tea might just be the order of the day
Each of the different Human Recharge Stations were designed to suit the different urban geographies of a city or an inter-city highway system. For example:
- Small Human Recharge Stations: suited to higher density urban areas with limited available room or 2-lane national highways where a larger human recharge station would be deemed excessive
- Medium Recharge Stations: suited for lower density urban areas not so constrained by space. They also work on 2-lane highways and in some cases 4-lane expressways where extra food outlets and some retail is needed
- Large Human Recharge Stations are basically out-of-centre outlets where you have everything rolled into one site. Given the size of the Station. These are most suited for 4-8 lane inter city motorways or very wide 8-lane avenues inside a city area
Now do I have pictures? Why yes I do starting with the small Human Recharge Station:
The Medium Human Recharge Station:
Finally the Large Human Recharge Station or simply your standard run of the mill out-of-centre retail outlet with some EV Chargers thrown in:
The Large Human Recharge Station even has a small residential village next door for the workers and is also connected by a bus back into the main urban centre about 45 minutes drive via the Manukau Trans-Link
These recharge stations were assembled using a Sim City or Cities Skylines technique called Lotting. What is Lotting and how does it lead to Urban Geography recycling? Onto Part Two:
Part Two: Builders, Lotters and Modders (aka BLaM)
In Sim City and its successor Cities Skylines you are able to customise the game to create unique richness to the off-the-shelf urban simulator. This was done either through building new assets, assembling existing assets into a new “lot” or modding the game to enhance game play (like the Rush Hour mod allows you to simulate the night and day cycle complete with rush hour, weekend and event traffic). Hence the term Builder, Lotter and Modder in the urban simulator world.
Most players would settle down into one of the BLaM niches although you had Super-Modders that could proficiently do all three. For me since Sim City 4 (2003) and Cities Skylines (2015) I would specialise in being a Lotter although I did build assets from time to time.
Lotters like myself were an underappreciated lot compared to the glitz of Modders and fame of the Builders. That said more than once my Lots and Builds got into the SC4 STEX Hall of Fame CDs back in the day so yeah okay. While underappreciated Lotters worked in the background in keeping a city running. Often cities would run into situations where avaliable assets were not enough to fill a need a “Mayor” might have. Lotters like myself would go through the existing available assets already in game (or on the workshop) and assemble a new Lot together to plug that hole the City once had.
In this case Cities Skylines does not have EV Charging Stations outside of a Commercial area that has the following policy:
Organic and Local Produce (Commercial) – Changes commercial area to consist of buildings like organic produce shops, electric car charging stations and such.
- Produces 50% of sold goods locally
- Truck traffic in the area is reduced by 50%
- Increases electricity consumption by 20%
- Reduces garbage production by 20%
Not going to work unless your entire City is a hippie city!
Thus inspired by the Demark EV Charging Stations and the fact I have three young kids who all need their rest stops while we do inter-city travel I lotted up the three Human Recharge Stations with existing materials.
Lotters: The Urban Geography Recyclers
Lotters like myself are the Urban Geography recyclers of a city and region. We use or rather recycle existing assets to produce a new asset for an urban area. We are not inventors, we are not builders (although I have “built” new assets when the existing assets were insufficient), we are not innovators aka modders, we do not have a tendency to do revolution but rather evolution of what is already there as well as tried and very well tested. We are the Urban Geography recyclers inside a City using what it already has to produce something better to fill an unsatisified need. In this case Human Recharge Stations owing to EV charging times.
Let me expand a bit here.
We are in an Urban Geographic situation where EV charging does take time (small as it is), we live in urban areas where everything is go, go go, gas stations are soon to be stranded assets and all the while the need to pee, the need to let kids burn off energy and the need to have the brain just being able to relax has not changed over the last 100 years.
At the same token cities are infested with poorly used parking lots while on rural highways Rest Areas often with tea rooms were normal.
Double opportunities present themselves both in urban and rural settings with the Human Recharge Stations using existing assets and delivering nothing fancy just utilitarian in its role.
Through recycling with what we have in terms of existing assets and existing land the Human Recharge Station was created. Each to suit a specific need, each universally adaptable to anywhere inside a City or rural area. Nothing revolutionary (like AV cars which won’t go anywhere) just an evolution of existing products that have been recycled and adapted into the current environment. Best bit? Not expensive or time consuming either given it is using off-the-shell existing assets and recycling them (Lotting) into a new package.
Human Recharge Stations – where you can recharge the car and recharge mind and body. Born out of the situation charging EVs takes longer than filling a car with petrol or hydrogen one might as well make use of the down time to grab a coffee, go to the toilet, change a nappy and let the kids run loose and burn some energy off.
No matter if in an urban environment or a rural highway the Human Recharge Stations make use of existing assets and land to produce something new as a consequence of an evolving travel environment.
How were these new Lots created? Through Lotting or Urban Geography recycling.
When an evolution tried and tested methods are needed rather than revolutions.