Last week, I covered a list of 20 items from The Futurist magazine’s Outlook 2010 (Nov-Dec 09 issuehttp://bit.ly/xFR5C) that will shape 21st c cities.http://bit.ly/154×84 Now I am adding other trends, ideas, and forecasts beyond their list. I addressed megacities, water, and robotics in the first three.http://bit.ly/2CZkcS http://bit.ly/4Cmu32http://bit.ly/1TGe4T This article considers the city as a whole system.
The Whole City
We see the modern, industrial city in parts. One segment is for houses, another for industrial, and entirely other areas for shops and offices. Consequently, we drive or take public transit from place to place. In the mid 21st century city, we will use and create whole cities and buildings differently than we did industrial cities.
Several forces are causing cities to change shape. First of all, commutes in cars are expensive, dangerous, and time consuming. No one likes to sit in congestion for hours every week but they do because their jobs and their families are separated by miles. In the past twenty years, new ideas such as New Urbanism and walkability emerged to change that, which will become evident in the next few decades (see Living Cities below). Second, women in the workplace increased reasons to have home and work closer. In addition, higher energy costs, aging population, and environmental problems influence new urban patterns, as will virtual and augmented reality.
Perhaps most significantly, cities are now seen not just as machines for moving people and produce but as places for living. The Project for Public Spaces looks at how to create engaging public spaces that focuses on distinct places (see diagram).http://www.pps.org/ People seek higher quality, diverse urban experiences and engaged communities.
I consider how looking at whole cities shapes 21st century built environments: the Living Building Challenge and Living Cities.
1. The Living Building
The Living Building Challenge by Jason McLennan pushes the idea of sustainable building beyond energy efficiency; instead, structures or districts generate more energy than they use. They return energy to the grid to be used by others and are measured on six performance areas: Site, Energy, Materials, Water, Indoor Quality, and Beauty and Inspiration.http://bit.ly/3Nd8l2
An earlier model called the triple bottom line also accounts for the quality of life in terms of: people, planet, and prosperity; or sometimes referred to as: social equity, ecology, and economics.http://bit.ly/bR2cX I worked on a 3,000 acre adaptive reuse of a former naval base in North Charleston SC called Noisette with BNIM and Burt Hill architects that used the triple bottom line approach.http://www.noisettesc.com/ The developer, John Knott, went to great effort to incorporate a whole system approach to build a community, not simply bricks and mortar, and subsequently was recognized by ULI and ASLA for urban design excellence. Ecology, heritage, and arts as well as economics drove decisions.
Clearly, the push to consider social equity, wellness, experience, education, social justice, etc in measuring the impact of building choices will reshape future cities. We are beginning to frame questions about cities not in single terms such as congestion or real estate values. Instead, the city is seen as a place of distinct experiences for building communities.
2. Living Cities, New Urbanism, Smart Growth
Larger questions concern the shape of the city. How will peak oil affect cities? How do we attract growth, jobs, and new residents? Do we continue to invest in new infrastructure and abandoning existing districts? Boulder and Portland have zoning regulations to control growth at the perimeter. Brookings Institute is one of the major proponents of contained development, called Smart Growth.http://bit.ly/4yDOGp
A number of models and theories support various cures for industrialized, car-based cities, and clearly I shouldn’t even try to summarize it too briefly. My point is simple (and hopefully not overly simplified): these ideas have certain commonalities and compatibilities, although not always creating precisely the same impact on cities.
The New Urbanist movement promoted the first major concept for post-industrial cities in terms of public spaces, pedestrian-oriented, and mixed uses so that major services were within walking distances.http://bit.ly/fhGhg Related patterns emerged as walkability, density, green cities, compact cities, traffic calming, and even slow cities, which are based on the idea of slow food and a less frenetic pace.http://bit.ly/4hshXh All of them address anti-dotes for industrial cities, and have by and large compatible intentions.
Each concept relates to the idea of the quality of life, the experience of the city, and reconnecting life and cities.
Furthermore, the idea of the agile, resilient city, the adaptable city is emerging. In other words, while modern cities traditionally are planned, infrastructure built, and development begins, new cities may emerge in a more flexible way. Any city that relies chiefly on cars as transportation will continue to be dominated by transportation systems, an extremely costly, rigid form. Similarly, fixed rail system creates a very obdurate infrastructure.
In reverse, if some elements become more transient or mobile, others may become increasingly durable. For instance memorials and cultural institutions may represent the city’s heritage, thus making gps devices even more necessary for wayfinding. Every change creates a counter movement. In this case, some buildings may be assembled, and easily moved, while others may be built to last. (see posts on augmented reality http://bit.ly/1y7rqI.)
To create completely new urban shapes, many elements come into play: technology, demographics, sustainability, economics, and attitudes. Furthermore, while these trends address positive actions, cities are also places of decline and sometimes complete societal collapse.
While I previously said I would write about geo-engineering and infrastructure in this post, I saw that to think of those topics comprehensively, whole cities came first. Technology including geo-engineering will be next.