“Self-sufficient and unconstrained” are the words used to describe Rapture, a fictional underwater utopian city built by Randian business magnate Andrew Ryan – the main antagonist of 2007’s BioShock video game. While drawing roots from fiction, Rapture might just become real, as a real-life billionaire and former Walmart executive Marc Lore shared his vision for a new American city with the cleanliness of Tokyo, the diversity of New York, and the social services of Stockholm. Now, he has appointed a world-renowned architect to design it.
Of course, Marc Lore isn’t actually planning on building an underwater city and naming it after the fictional setting of a top-rated video game, even if BioShock fans might have fun with that. Instead, the new 5-million-person city, called Telosa, is envisioned as a sustainable metropolis located in one of four U.S. deserts, as reported by IGN (via CNN). According to his Twitter post, Marc Lore hopes to create his sustainable metropolis from scratch, promising eco-friendly architecture, a drought-resistant water system, and a response to the wealth disparity. So one could argue that, in a sense, Lore is trying to build a city upon the fictional foundations of BioShock’s Rapture.
Lore’s announcement was followed by digital renders created by BIG; the architecture company Lore hired to bring his BioShock-life utopian dream to life. The renders show residential buildings covered with greenery akin to Babylon’s hanging gardens, abundant open space, and a transportation system based on autonomous vehicles, encapsulated into a “15-minutes city design.” This would allow residents to access their workplaces, schools, and amenities within a 15-minute commute of their homes, eliminating the need for fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, which would be banned in the city.
Lore’s plans say Telosa will eventually grow to 150,000 acres, supporting 5 million people. However, the project is still in early development, with city planners looking for a suitable building location somewhere in the regions of Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, or Texas. Estimates say that the first phase would take approximately 10 to 20 years to achieve, supporting 1 million people in the city. Thus, the full extent of Marc Lore’s dream of a utopian BioShock-like city is still at least 40 years away.
However, BioShock’s utopian society is precisely what brought its fictional city of Rapture to ruin. What was supposed to be a city where artists wouldn’t fear censure, scientists wouldn’t be bound by petty morality, and the great wouldn’t be constrained by the bounds of normalcy, led to unscrupulous business practices which alienated its less fortunate citizens. With that in mind, the proponents of Telosa are stating that their goal isn’t to create a utopia but rather to stay focused on what is possible.
Speaking of Rapture, BioShock 4 is making massive changes to the franchise, suggesting a new open-world environment instead of taking place in BioShock and BioShock: Infinite’s recognizable cities. The former took place in the underwater city of Rapture, while the latter took place in the floating steampunk city-state called Columbia, which were pretty much closed-world experiences, despite their massive size. Unfortunately, the upcoming BioShock 4 might release as a PlayStation 5 exclusive. Hopefully, Telosa won’t feature any kind of exclusivity.