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Babylondon
From the Wikipedia entry for ‘Babylondon’:

The name ‘Babylondon’ is a variant of the Greco-Roman Babilundinium (bab-ilûn-dinium, meaning “Gateway on the river of the gods”). It is an ancient city which continues to be important as an international centre of finance, politics, education, culture, entertainment, fashion and the arts. It is widely regarded as one of the world’s major global cities. It was the “holy city” of Babylondia and the seat of the Neo-Babylondonian Empire. In ancient texts the first part of the city’s name appears as ‘Babel’, interpreted by Genesis to mean “confusion”, from the verb balal, “to confuse”.

Babylondon has an estimated population of 7.5 million (as of 2005) and a metropolitan area population of between 12 and 14 million. Babylondon has an extremely cosmopolitan population, drawing from a diverse range of peoples, cultures and religions, speaking over 300 different languages at any one time. Residents of Babylondon are referred to as Babylondoners, or collocially as ‘Babies’, ‘Babelers’,‘Baps’ or ‘Badneys’.

The city is an international transport hub, a super-national virtual city and a major tourist destination, counting iconic landmarks such as the The House of the Common Age, The Babylondon Ear (an oversized ear-trumpet completed for the Millennium), The Tower of Babylondon, the replica Ishtar Broadgate and Mujelli-bingham Palace amongst its many attractions, along with famous institutions such as the Babylondian Museum and the recently constructed Biblioteca de Babel (the Library of Babel) near St Pancras Station. This new library, designed by the architect Sir Wilson Langford Laswitz, took over 20 years to build and is conceived as a universe in the form of a vast library containing all possible 410-page books that can be composed in a particular character set.

The Tower of Babylondon is one of the city’s most ancient structures. According to the progressive rockband ‘Genesis’, mankind, after the deluge, travelled from the mountains of the North, where the ark had rested, and settled in ‘an estuary in the Southern Lands’. Here, they attempted to build a city and a tower ‘whose top might reach unto Heaven’ as a symbol of united humanity. The result was the Tower of Babylondon, initially left incomplete due to communication difficulties between the main contractor and the many sub-contractors. The Tower was finally completed by William the Communicator soon after his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

In recent times, many new towers have been erected in Babylondon. It is a Planning Regulation in the city that each new tower aims to reach heaven, but that each time the architect must adopt a different interpretation of what ‘heaven’ actually means. The architect of each new tower is required to explain and illustrate their unique interpretation in a detailed ‘Design and Access Statement’, six paper copies of which must be submitted to the Local Planning Authority as part of a detailed Planning Application. The ‘Design and Access Statement’ must include a combination of clear and unambiguous diagrams, sketches and 3D visualisations, presented to enable the Babylondian Planning Officers to assess the merits of the scheme.

These new towers are much taller than the original Tower of Babylondon. The most famous recent tower is some 180m high (over three times the height of Niagara Falls) and is known affectionately by Babylondoners as the ‘Aubergine’ because of its unconventional shape and dark purple colour. Many more towers are planned, including one know as the ‘Shining Splinter’, a new home for Babylondon’s Immigration and Nationality Directorate. Conceived as a ‘beacon’, welcoming the thousands of newcomers that arrive in Babylondon from the rest of the world each day, the ‘Splinter’ will also provide an unprecedented mix of competing uses in one building including: high-density residential accommodation, an Academy of Babylondon Citizenship, a 12,000 seater arena, a Tesco Metro and one thousand live-work units. The tower is planned to be located right in the centre of the city, straddling the Great River like a modern-day Tower Bridge and replaces the existing facility in Croydon. The architect’s definition of heaven for the Splinter is ‘a singular celebration of multivocality, plurality and confusion’. The tower is specially designed to obscure every possible view of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The original Tower of Babylondon now houses an exhibition about Ravens and a contemporary virtual wax-works experience.

The earliest mention of Babylondon is in a dated tablet of the reign of Wilfred of Akkad. Over the years, Babylondon’s power and population has waxed and waned having been variously occupied by Romans, Amorite-Saxons, Trojans, the Iceni tribe of Celts led by Queen Boudica, Turks, Americans, Normans, Greeks and Kassite-Vikings.

The first Great Babylondonian Dynasty was established by Alfred the Great, but the city-state controlled little surrounding territory until it became the capital of Nezzartoria II’s great Empire, when he expanded the city in to Surrey, Kent and Middlesex and ordered its complete reconstruction following the Second Great Flood. Nezzartoria’s utopian vision for the city, inspired in part by the Rome of Pope Sixtus V, was never completely realised.

Nevertheless, Nezzartoria completed many great building projects. He ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including rebuilding the Etemenanki ziggurat at Hampton Court. He is also creditted with building the first Glass Palace and the Ishtar Broadgate; the most spectacular of seven gates that ringed the perimeter of Babylondon.

The Ishtar Broadgate survives today in the Museum of Athens, where is was reconstructed stone-by-stone following the Greek plunder of the city in the 18th century.

Nezzartoria is also credited with making the original designs for the Hanging Gardens of Babylondon, currently under construction on the site of ancient ruins. These ‘brownfield’ sites were used until recently as helipads and encampments by the US military. The gardens are due to be completed for 2012. Its is considered that The Hanging Gardens of Babylondon will be regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

The city of Babylondon is divided in equal parts along the north and south banks of the Great River, with steep embankments and barriers to contain the river’s increasingly more frequent floods. The north side has come to site many of the important financial and cultural functions of the city, whilst the south side has traditionally been seen as ‘outside the city gates’; home to theatres, pubs and brothels. Babylondon grew in extent and complexity over time. Over the last 100 years it has sprawled to create large swathes of suburbia, characterised by red-brick semi-detached houses, out-of-town shopping centres and DIY garden ziggurats (based on the one at Hampton Court).

It has been estimated that Babylondon was the largest city in the world from 1770 to 1870 CE. It has also been estimated that it could be again between c.2112 and 2320. Others suggest that in terms of its virtual and cultural influence, Babylondon has never ceased being the world’s largest and greatest city.
   
Published by Vincent Lacovara
Royal College of Art, London
Architecture Annual, 2006