The major world cities are anchored by massive skyscrapers reaching ever higher heights. As the world's population moves into these urban centers, 70% predicted by 2050, the challenge will be to build large skyscraper like multi-use structures that can serve the needs of the massive populations they must house. Hong Kong and China are leading the way for the rest of the world. However, they are currently following the traditional western model which relies on vast cityscapes and their attendant urban sprawl needed to supply their needs. The consequences are the loss of arable land to feed the population and a minimization of community to accommodate the warehousing of the citizenry. A new dense living approach is needed that combines height, multi-use, diverse populations and community identities that support the inhabitants.
The optimum way to navigate the topic is to start at the beginning, the page at the end, and work your way forwards to the most recent entries.
ARUP continues to lead with its newest addition to distributed system applications combining both energy generation and living space. This is the type of innovation that will be needed by the denser cities of the future.
The Voronoi Skyscraper finalist eVolo design is one of the few that proposes to define a city within in itself. The key consideration is to produce the vibrant life of the city with the tranquility of the suburbs. Who wouldn't want that?
Nikos A. Salingaros at the University of Texas lays out in considerable detail the principal that city design is really just about people and how they connect. Future city design must move past simplistic issues such as improving pedestrian access or single use versus multi use. It needs to embrace the totality of human experience and need. Individuals will extend past their personal barriers in order to enrich their lives. We need to understand the connections before we build new cities.
Have the Chinese urban planners taken this into consideration?
Archaeologist Michael Smith is currently asking the urban planning disciplines to take a historic look at urban sprawl. His preliminary impressions seem to warrant including this view as a critical component in understanding our current situation. The full scientific article can be downloaded at the end of his synopsis.
New York City is the template of choice for designers of Chinese cities. A year ago leading Chinese representatives met with the top high rise developers\architects to cement their relationships. They stated at the meeting that New York was their inspiration. New York can not exist without the presence of the massive urban sprawl represented by its largest boroughs, Central and Northern New Jersey, Long Island and Southern Connecticut. Future city development despite claims of New Urbanism supporters will most likely be more of the same.
Are mega regions sustainable? Is the Western city model the best one to implement even if it is “greened”? Are we going to continue pushing the envelope with a complete disregard for any constraints or consideration of the consequences? Will this help force a collapse as outlined in Limits To Growth: The 30-Year Update: http://www.amazon.com/Limits-Growth-Donella-H-Meadows/dp/193149858X ? Or is there a new paradigm just around the corner? We may be standing at the precipice. Let's figure out the best way to survive the projected nine billion population by the year 2050.
Given the short time lines for producing solutions to population overshoot, the need for clean energy alternatives and the loss of arable lands, changes must be rapid and revolutionary rather than evolutionary. Time is running out.
We must begin to think in terms of multiple usage and height. However, one of the biggest challenges will be the transportation of populations using a combination of vertical and horizontal transportation systems. Such design parameters have been incorporated into multi story garage ramps. Go to any major airport and drive up to the garage roofs. The chief limitation is the space required by the four wheeled horizontal wonder, the car. Computers and gyroscopes have changed the landscape by introducing a new paradigm in transportation.
The Bombardier Corporation has designed the Embrio. Architects should take a hard look at this technology. The Embrio could enable riders to change their angle of attack for steep ramps without creating a dangerous situation. Then they could roll down vertical mega structure boulevards hundreds of feet in the air. Furthermore, the Embrio will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells (see Big Fossil Fuel for an discussion of the Hydrogen Economy: http://www.scoop.it/t/big-fossil-fuel ) . The need now is to encourage the rapid development of vertical\horizontal transportation systems. If you see the merit of this one solution, call the Bombardier Corporation in Canada and encourage them to get the Embrio to market.
Movement within skyscrapers is only possible through the use of elevators. They limit the design and inhabitable space of the structure. Occupants can only venture relatively short distances from the central elevator banks.
The proposed Shimizu Mega City Pyramid replaces the traditional elevator with accelerating walkways, inclined elevators and personal rapid transit. Take the interactive tour.
The vision of a "Vertical Village" for Melbourne in 2015 consists of the reworking of existing structures. Community improvements are based upon providing services to apartments along the lines of public bathing and spas facilities grocery provisioning and common office areas. This vision ignores the human need for walking and exploration which form the basis of vibrant communities. Consequently, this configuration is an interim step towards a dense multi use vertical entity which would allow its inhabitant the room to roam.
Shenzhen, one of China's great green cities is struggling to put together a strategy of integrating the "Urban Villages" sprouting up throughout the city. These are enclaves of farmers and migrant workers who cannot afford to live in the core areas of the city. More importantly, the urban villagers create their own community identities which are central to their way of life.
Hong Kong has shown that the architecture of the future lies in higher realms than currently imagined. However, the megastructures referred to in Ole Bouman's well written article must in the final analysis serve the interests of mankind.
The urban environment grew haphazardly. The current thinking seeks to reshape it to meet green and energy conservation needs. However, man requires a community in addition to dense living accommodations to survive. Community is the critical path that must be followed. Mega- structure designers must always keep this in mind.
Istanbul has tripled in area over the last 35 years, as we can see in this photo from space
The Petri dish beckons. To understand the problem facing the human race, take a Petri dish with a rich nutrient base. Place a single colony of bacteria that uses the food source on it. Watch it grow to the boundaries of the plate and perish. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand the challenges ahead.
One of my favorites is Paolo Soleri's lean linear city concept. While biking along the Columbia River near Portland OR, I envisioned a linear city that would provide residents with an unprecedented high rise view of the river, a sophisticated life style, advanced mobile transportation and a sustainable environment. Soleri and his planning department are currently advancing the linear city concept at: http://www.arcosanti.org/today/2011/09/19/1316447351684.html .
A new way of looking at cities that has emerged during the last 20 years that could revolutionize planning and ultimately benefit city dwellers.
So states the referenced article. At the heart of the authors argument is the assumption that cities evolve in a certain way and that tweaking the model will only improve on the city dweller's quality of life. Modern cities experience much the same problems computer chip designers have faced the past 40 years. The early technology only allowed the creation of single use segregated architectures. This worked well until larger computer demands in terms of addressable space and speed required denser architectures. In other words, it is now necessary to pack more transisters and multi use systems into the same limited spaces. The only way to accomplish this is to shrink the size of the transistors and build higher. Compare the mainframes of the 70's with the IPad which has more capacity than a 70's mainframe. Possibly, architects should begin thinking of dense integrated designs such as the Soleri cities or multi use towers referenced earlier in the topic that can be developed in phases both internally and externally. This requires real planning and an in depth understanding of human nature.
Architectural Sociology cited in this article is considered a new sub discipline of architectural practice. It focuses on the human use of buildings and spaces. Lacking is the exploration of the effects of cities on humans rather than the other way around. What effect do city limits have upon large populations? Do the populations adjust their habits, life styles and family sizes to conform to the city layout? Could future city designs use advanced sociological findings to solve larger issues currently facing the designers of new cities?
The architectural\sustainability community has embraced New Urbanism as the answer to the critical issues of climate change, urban sprawl, population growth and bleak urban environments. Though its goals are admirable, the definition of the New Urbanism movement represents a mere re-working of existing environments without increasing their carrying capacity. Look to the Chinese for a view of future city living. What is needed is a new movement combining the goals of the New Urbanists with the first generation concepts of dense living architects such as Paolo Soleri and the designers of the Crystal Tower.
Are we afraid to dream? Where is the out of the box thinking? Time is running short. Humane living spaces will be required for the populations topping 9 billion in 2050-a mere 40 years distant. The current carrying capacity of the worlds urban centers are inadequate to the task. A populist movement is needed to move the architectural vision forward.
Nearly 7 billion people now inhabit planet but projections that number will double this century have shocked academics...
Where are all these people going to live? What kind of life style can they expect? Shouldn't academics be working on various solutions now?
Basic economic theory stipulates that increasing numbers of purchasers chasing static or shrinking resources will lead to hyper-inflation. It also states that the cost of current dollars is less than it will be in the future. Shouldn't we be building the solutions now when the cost is so much lower than it will in 2100?
Back in the 1970's, Architect Paolo Soleri turned the world's attention to the issues that we now confront. He believed that human habitats must coexist with the environment. He coined the term archology, a combination of the words architecture and ecology. His structures are huge reaching heights in the thousands of feet. His designs were developed around community spaces. His vision is best expressed in the book, "Arcology: The City in the Image of Man". He proposed "Solare, The Lean City" to the Chinese: http://www.arcosanti.org/project/background/soleri/solare/SOLARE.swf .
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