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Layered Metropolis
The Wretched Hive below does no justice to the view from the window of your Mega Corp. Star Scraper? No problem. Cover it up.

There ain't a side of the tracks more wrong than under 'em.
Augustus Sinclair, BioShock 2

The extreme Lampshading of the Skyscraper City, making it even more enormous and overbuilt. A Skyscraper City is when the city seems to consist entirely of skyscrapers that rival the construction of Dubai (and then some) but the Layered Metropolis is when the city planners went even further by adding more streets, and even buildings, very far (or sometimes not that far) above the city. This tends to go hand in hand with Under City or Absurdly Spacious Sewer, for some reason. Probably the aesthetic.

Maybe they realized how inconvenient it might be to take an elevator down a hundred stories or so, cross the street, then go back up the other building's elevator. Or they might have been worried about wiring, plumbing, or public transportation. Exactly how people take the car to these levels or get plumbing that high up will almost never be addressed, and similar questions as those raised by the Skyscraper City are also rarely addressed-such as the population needed, the construction methods, or how any of this is structurally sound.

Predictably, there will be Urban Segregation where the rich will always be a majority on the top, and the lower classes will have the bottom. Which presents an intriguing dichotomy as one neighbourhood becomes slowly overshadowed by another level, and thus more unfashionable. Similarly to the Skyscraper City, If the issue of population is brought up, it will usually be in a dystopian setting where overpopulation plagues the planet or at least big cities.

It is also a sub-trope of Skyscraper City, making it a sub-subtrope to Mega City. It fits very well in Cyber Punk settings. Compare City Planet (which lends itself more to this than the Skyscraper City), Star Scraper, and Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale. Has surprisingly little to do with Layered World.

The arcology is an idea for applying this concept in real life. Now with its own page!


Examples:

Anime

  • Sternbild City of Tiger & Bunny (which is definitely not Manhattan. At all.) is divided into 5 levels, counting the ground. It's also a decidedly non-grimdark example in that while it has several characteristics that would be required of a Cyperpunk example, such as having corrupt officials, Mega Corp. running rampant, and advanced technology, it is an idealistic show. So Sternbild's slight Bizarrchitecture is played for awesome.
  • Neo-City in Secret of Cerulean Sand is organisated as such before being destroyed by William in a fit of anger.

Film
  • In the Star Wars films, Coruscant is an Up to Eleven and beyond example, which makes it 121 or higher. No, really, it deserves that. The planet is covered in skyscrapers, which are also covered in skyscrapers, which are covered in more skyscrapers, which goes on for long enough that the skyscrapers dwarf the natural features of the planet. And some of the skyscrapers that were built on are actually construction droids for building more skyscrapers.
  • The cities of the Total Recall (2012) remake follow this trope, crossing with a bit of Bizarrchitecture. Observe. London uses a more conventional approach with flat, layered roads, and actually addresses how cars get between the levels - the hover cars use magnetic "elevators" to get between levels, while standard wheeled vehicles stay at ground level.
  • Metropolis itself — no, not that one; the eponymous city from the 1927 Fritz Lang film — arguably counted; the "workers' city" may have been at what was once ground level or literally dug underground, but either way it was completely covered by the "surface" of the city above, accessible only by elevator. As with Skyscraper City, this would make it the Trope Maker.
  • New York in The Fifth Element is still in the Skyscraper City stage, but it's clearly evolving layers with its multiple above-ground walkways.

Literature
  • On Gor most major city-states are filled with towering "cylinders," with narrow unrailed bridges between them to go from cylinder to cylinder without having to descend to street level first.
  • London has become this in Mortal Engines thanks to the great engineer Quirke, who transformed it into the world's first mobile city. The 7th tier houses the engine district, while St Paul's Cathedral sits on the uppermost tier.
    • We see more and more Traction Cities in the later books of the series, and they all make use of this trope — with the number of layers a city has also showing its overall wealth and power. Only the smallest, poorest towns have a single deck. Definitely goes hand-in-hand with Urban Segregation in this setting.
  • Trowth, from The Corsay Books, is an architecturally improbable example rather like a Lovecraftian Steampunk channeling-suicidal-amounts-of-Perdido Street Station version of Coruscant, spurred on by an architectural war. Yes, really, it all Makes Sense In Context. It started when one noble family built a tall, spindly tower with a view of the river, which offended another noble family who made a squat ugly tower in front of the tall spindly tower as an insult. It escalated into war, until a new front opened up when one architect built bridges over a major thoroughfare that went through his property. Soon, people started building on top of the bridges, to the point that it became a massive, towering, constantly constructed city.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, Minas Tirith has seven levels, with a stone promontory jutting out from the topmost to overtake the rest of the city. It was built this way to be extremely defensible, with multiple lines of defense.
    • Parodied in Bored of the Rings with Minas Troney, which was built on seven levels for no better reason than its builder having water on the brain, in a shape similar to that of an Italian wedding cake. The Urban Segregation resulting from this design is Played for Laughs.
  • Trantor, the capital of the Galactic Empire in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, is a planet so coated with layers and layers of city that most of its inhabitants live their entire lives without ever seeing sunlight. The prequel The Currents of Space has 2-layered cities with the top level for Sarkite masters and bottom level for Florinian serfs.

Tabletop Games
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons campaign world of Eberron the city of Sharn is like this. Because it sits in a Manifest Zone that enhances anti-gravity magic the city's towers have been built to incredible heights and cross-connected at various levels. Just to make the sure the rich really do stay on top, the very wealthiest live on a floating neighborhood above the towers.
  • Warhammer40000's Hive Cities, which have been varyingly described as planets hollowed out to make room for entire cities, or in the case of Necromunda, overpopulated and horrifically violent kilometer-high skyscraper arcologies the size of cities.
  • Ravnica. The entire plane is a metropolis, built up over thousands of years. As older buildings collapsed, newer ones were built on top of them. The lower levels became the "Undercity," an area of ill repute. Still, the city grows and expands. There aren't even proper natural features any more, the lands typical to Magic are only there in spirit, each represented by different architectural features.
  • Exalted had cities like this during the First Age.
    • It's also a common structure for the Alchemical cities of Autochthonia.
    • Malfeas, the Demon City is described as consisting of innumerable layers that generally float separately from one another (although they're connected in places by certain roads made from the voice of a powerful demon). In his rage and frustration, Malfeas has a tendency to crash his layers into one another; they'll often be merged together by this process.
  • Mort Central, the setting of most SLA Industries campaigns, actually manages to hold three varieties. First, the city is built on top of the ruins of a previous city that is now mostly underground, which the citizens of Mort don't like to talk about. Understandable, given that it's full of decaying infrastructure, carnivorous pigs, carriens, human psychopaths, and horrifying monsters, men in Powered Armor, terrorists, and things that the standard police rifle is less effective against than a BB gun... because, ironically enough, it IS a gauss BB gun. Second, there's Downtown, a warren of walkways, streets, and buildings extending deep underground that's similar to the Kowloon Walled City. Third, there's also several skyways full of shops high above the urban sprawl of the city.

Video Games
  • Bezoar City of Hard Reset is a vast, towering Cyber Punk example of this. As Yahtzee pointed out: "There's one level where you're in a subway station and a few corridors later you're on a rooftop!" They did sort of hint at it with how tall Bezoar is implied to be, at certain points the wind whistles by fast enough to suggest you are a very... appreciable distance from the ground that you most definitely can't see. Yet, when you look up? There's still a lot more city to go.
  • Tokyo of Binary Domain has been made into one-if only because of global warming. It actually does address why this happened (Global Warming) and it is probably the only example with a giant sewer tower meant to help with the plumbing of the upper city.
  • Hengsha of Deus Ex: Human Revolution has been described on the page for said game as "a true urban planning nightmare that would make an oil rig look like the Taj Mahal by comparison." The bottom is dark and full of squat, ugly, blockish buildings and neon that simultaneously look both planned and unplanned and there are also streets above the streets there. The Upper City bears an odd resemblance to the Aaaaaahk (the Ark) of Brink. It is the complete opposite of the Lower City, with every bit of ground not occupied by enormous skyscrapers occupied by parks.
  • Xenoblade has Alcamoth and the Frontier Village. The former is an advanced muti-level city that floats above the Eryth Sea, which is located atop the Bionis' head. However, the Frontier Village is a whopping 9 level monstrosity, connected by stairs and rope bridges, that's so big that you can literally fall to your death! The same is true, if you fall from the upper ring, or either of the observation decks, of Alcamoth.
  • Final Fantasy VII's Midgar. In all sectors (numbered 0-8), an upper plate separates the ground-level slums from the other districts. This plate also blocks sunlight (what little there is of it) from trickling down into the slums. Agents from Shinra Inc. activate a support structure's Self-Destruct Mechanism between both layers of Sector 7, causing a section of the plate to come loose and crush everyone beneath before sending an earthquake relief force on the plate. Ironically, Reeve later moves the entire population of Midgar into the slums to protect them from METEOR.
    • An additional secret level, only known as Deepground, is located below both Midgar and the Slums, only accessible via the Sector 0 reactor. (Dirge of Cerberus)
    • The military port city of Junon also has a small village under it, near the elevator to the city proper.
    • Final Fantasy XII's Rabanastre is divided into two halves following its occupation by Archadian forces. "Lowtown", as its name suggests, lies beneath the streets and is comprised of storerooms, now converted into residences.
    • Academia in FinalFantasyXIII-2 has multiple levels of streets and platforms to walk on. The different levels are connected by conveyor belts. The ground is not even visible.
  • Woodruff And The Schnibble Of Azimuth has the great vertical city of Vlurxtrznbnaxl. The citizens live in different parts of the city according to their socio-economic status: the poor live on the lower levels, the rich and powerful live on the higher levels.
  • Dark Souls: Lordran is built this way, with Undead Burg on top, the Depths below it, and Blighttown even deeper below it.
  • Beneath a Steel Sky has it the opposite way. Upper levels for the poor, bottom level for the rich and privileged.
  • In the E3 presentation of Halo 2 New Mombasa was an enormous structure shaped like a baobab tree stretching up into the clouds. Extruding from it were arms large enough and strong enough to hold several skyscrapers, streets, and even freeways on it, meant to so just how over populated Earth had become. In the end, Bungie went for a more realistic angle with the space elevator.

Webcomics
  • Centralis in The Cyantian Chronicles consists of several large discs attached to a central "stem", the discs are capable of moving to prevent soil erosion or even detaching and flying off using Anti Gravity.
  • All cities of Solar System in Schlock Mercenary as explained in the commentary for this strip. 1 trillion people (not necessarily humans) inhabit the system, of those 200 billion live on Earth. Arcologies occupy only 10% of Earh land (and a bit of oceans), but they are several kilometers high and deep. Population density is measured in people per cubic rather than square kilometer. This is the 31st century, with cheap annihilation energy and superstrong construction materials.

Web Original
  • Metamor City is built like a layer cake with four skyways suspended between the skyscrapers on top of one another. And the original Metamor Keep has practically evolved into an Arcology.

Real Life

  • This building in Singapore looks like a miniaturized version of the above mentioned Hengsha. One can't help but think the design may become more popular over time as space in metropolitan areas becomes a premium.
  • Kowloon Walled City is certainly worth mentioning. Not so much layered as it was a giant solid 8 story mass of questionable architecture. A base stretching 126m by 213m, housing 50,000 residents. Evacuated and bulldozed in 1993.
  • Portions of Chicago are built on double-decker or triple-decker streets; the lower decks are at the original ground level and are used for loading docks and through traffic. Wacker Drive, the longest street in this system, features in The Blues Brothers and The Dark Knight, and the Billy Goat Tavern of Saturday Night Live Fame is located on lower Michigan Avenue. Above, the El tracks yet another layer.
Japan Takes Over the WorldCyberpunk TropesMega City
Land of One CityThe CityLondon
Layered WorldSettingsLethal Eatery
Electronic EyesImageSource/Video GamesWe Can Rebuild Him

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