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Engineering Midgar

Engineering Midgar

This year was a very special year. It was the 25th birthday of the famous video game franchise Final Fantasy. As a kid growing up, and then as an adult growing down, I must have spent somewhere in the region of 1500-2000 hours playing them. Of them all, Final Fantasy VII is probably the closest to my heart- being English; it was the first I’d played.

You’re vulnerable, staggeringly vulnerable; extremes of any conditions unforeseen doesn’t just mean the collapse of a building, it means the fall of a city.

So what does this have to do with engineering? Final Fantasy VII starts, famously, in the massive metropolis of Midgar. Amongst its other defining features, the city was formed in eight sectors upon a 50m high plate; with the slums on the ground and the rich in the sky. Concrete pillars rose from each sector to support the massive steel plates that made the foundations of the elevated city.

So the question is: could it be done? Without spending the rest of my life calculating, detailing and drawing up fictional cities, I’ll have to fall back on what foundling engineering judgement I’ve garnered. You’d have to thicken the plate construction, and increase the numbers of pillars;

Where money is no issue you could do it. But you’d wish you hadn’t.

Building a city on, when it comes down to it, a bridge, comes at a heavy price. Expansion is no longer an option, and neither are increasing loads; no more skyscrapers or infrastructure than already allowed for. Maintenance is now a major issue; you can’t replace a plate because a whole sector of the city is built upon it, so you’re tied into a vigorous and essential regime. Finally you’re vulnerable, staggeringly vulnerable; extremes of any conditions unforeseen doesn’t just mean the collapse of a building, it means the fall of a city.

So any dreams of riding the Sector 7 train, or infiltrating the Shinra Building are all but gone; however- for all those engineers who grew up playing computer games: Here’s a poem, just for you.

Please forgive the self-indulgence, and brevity of this week’s blog, but it is Christmas- and I’ve already given a festive offering.

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