Feature Reports

Imagining the Cities of the Future

An Indian visitor looks at a model of a 'smart city' at the Smartcity Expo in New Delhi on May 20, 2015. The expo is showcasing sustainable living and environmental projects. ©SAJJAD HUSSAIN

As the planet’s population grows and becomes increasingly urban, and as global warming continues with consequences on human society across the world, planning the cities of tomorrow is more crucial than ever. Designing a one-size-fits-all template for future living spaces would be impossible due to the diverse spectrum of political climates, economies and cultures. However, industrialized nations and emerging economies alike are thinking on increasingly similar lines about possible models for tomorrow’s urban hubs, based on the use of digital data, the pursuit of energy efficiency, the rise of renewable energies and increased involvement from citizens thanks to social media

Reality or Utopia? The Future According to Urban Planners

Just as they have done throughout history, architects and urban planners are designing what they believe the city of the future should look like. Incidentally, it is entertaining to look back and see how the urban planners of the 1960s imagined the cities of the year 2000. Today’s reality is often more surprising than what they had anticipated back then! Some projects for the 21st century seem like utopias or science fiction, even fantasy, while others include aspects that are already being rolled out in cities around the world. Below are a few examples among hundreds of visions of the urban future1

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A New Way of Managing "Energy Communities"

Urban planners and energy experts worldwide have started testing and implementing new ways of managing energy, which involve organizing both production (solar, wind and biomassIn the energy sector, biomass is defined as all organic matter of plant or animal origin...) and usage (housing and mobility) at the same level, be it the district, city or region. This is how “local energy communities” have come about.

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Urban agriculture

The urbanization of the planet is drawing agriculture and small farms into city centers in both low-income and industrialized economies. Catering to this trend requires more effective use of space, urban-waste recyclingAny waste treatment process that uses materials from identical or similar end-of-life products or manufacturing waste to produce new products. and in some cases sophisticated technology, such as that used in vertical farming.

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