Cities of the Future: How they Will Look and Function 

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In the coming decades, cities will not resemble or operate as they do today. There are many innovative designs in the pipework, all of which are designed with improved human wellbeing and environmental sustainability in mind.

Modular buildings

We will see more modular skyscrapers and other buildings being constructed. Currently used mainly in homebuilding and other small construction projects, this is a growing trend in construction techniques that construct modules off-site which are then transported to the site for assembling. However, modular building is seen as a way that future skyscrapers and cities will be constructed due to the lower environmental impact that they have.

Sustainable construction materials are used to construct modular skyscrapers that use prefabricated pieces, or modules. These modules are built off-site and then brought to the building site, where they are rapidly put together on-site. Compared to typical construction methods, this technology shortens the project timeframe and lowers construction waste.

Net-Zero buildings

The world’s urban population is expected to reach 70% by 2030, according to experts. Growing populations will exacerbate the situation unless city planners come up with more sustainable solutions to pollution and carbon emissions. Fortunately, green building concepts such as net-zero energy buildings provide an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional construction methods.

Countries that ratified the Paris Climate Agreement have committed to creating a net-zero construction sector by 2050 in order to limit global warming below two degrees Celsius. Developing cities may do this by constructing net-zero energy commercial and residential structures using renewable energy sources and only consuming energy that is generated on-site.

Smart roads

Over the last few decades, the road system has remained mostly unaltered. However, with the introduction of electric vehicles and the prospect of self-driving vehicles, our highways and roads are in dire need of renovation.

Many businesses are now making investments in roadway efficiency, safety, and sustainability technology. A road may be made “smart” by using a variety of technologies, such as weather temperature sensitive paint, EV-charging roads, and solar roads. Smart roads can also have sensors installed that monitor weather and traffic conditions, and then utilise AI to better control traffic lights to ease congestion.

Public transport

City planners may go one step further by developing all-electric public transportation systems that minimise CO2 emissions and remove the need for fossil fuels. Public transport has long been considered a greener alternative to driving.

Planning for the future

As cities expand and adapt, so do urban planning trends. City planners are always looking for innovative methods to modernise outmoded systems, since what works now may not function a few decades down the line.

Three city planning trends to be aware of:

  1. “15-minute cities”
  1. Blue zones
  1. Eco-district

15-minutes cities

Thirty-minute city designs have gained momentum among city designers throughout the world due to climate change and the COVID-19 epidemic. 15-minute cities are places where you can walk or bike to everything you need in 15 minutes or less, including work and recreational facilities.

The current 15-minute city notion developed in Paris, a city noted for its fast-paced energy and vibe, even though the idea has been around for decades. Paris’ mayor has nominated a commissioner for the 15-minute city and prioritised it for future urban planning initiatives.

Virtual and hybrid working patterns are making 15-minute cities increasingly popular throughout the world. Demand for neighbourhoods with a greater variety of businesses and public resources will continue to increase as people begin to spend more time in their areas.

Blue zones

During his research on communities throughout the world where people lived longer than normal lifespans, researcher Dan Buettner created the term “blue zones” in 2005. Such blue zones include countries like Okinawa, Japan, known for their occupants’ simple lifestyles and largely vegetarian diets.

People who live in blue zones have fewer chronic diseases and live longer on average than people in other parts of the world. Buettner identified four essential factors that play a part in achieving this, all of which can be implemented into the design and planning of future cities. For example, the concept of “moving more” can be implemented by creating more walking zones or public gathering spots that are free from traffic.

Eco-districts

Eco-districts are areas where sustainable development and energy conservation are prioritised to minimise their negative environmental effect. Eco-districts, like blue zones, are intended to foster a variety of social settings to improve the quality of life for its people. Sustainable and recycled building materials, renewable energy, recycled rainwater, eco-friendly transportation, and advanced waste management systems are all used to achieve this.

Countries in Europe, such as Sweden and France, are spearheading the push to create eco-districts across the world. It’s estimated that Paris has four eco-districts, with intentions to add more soon. The Hammarby Sjostad eco-district in Sweden uses solar panels to power its structures and a biofuel, combustible waste, and treated water heating system to keep residents warm in the winter.

If humanity is serious about tackling the big problems that humanity faces, such as climate change and the macro problem of ecological overshoot, then the future city will have to be sustainable and more in harmony with preserving the natural world.

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