“If the 20th century was the era of nations then the 21st century will be the era of cities” Lee Myung Bak — President of South Korea
As technology improves, we are noticing a huge strain on old city structures as they struggle to cope with outdated infrastructure that cost billions to install (simply look at Australia’s NBN disaster.)
So this week I have decided to take a look at 5 cities that are leading the way forward.
The city is already known for innovation and technology not to mention its mega projects such as palm island and the world. A possible new mega project was announced in 2008 and if it actually starts the 2,400 meter tall Dubai Vertical City would not only become the tallest skyscraper in the world nearly doubling the size of the current tallest, it would be a city in itself with a bullet train like elevator travelling at 200km per hour to ascend the tower.
Dubai already has flying drone taxis capable of seating one person for 23 minutes zipping around the skies, and whilst humans aren’t yet allowed to travel in one, it is only a matter of time until they do. Dubai also ordered a fleet of Tesla Driverless cars for the Dubai Taxi Corporation and whilst countries such as Italy are still fighting against Uber, Dubai has not only accepted these changes, but fully embraced it making automation a part of everyday life.
Dubai has also taken to 3D printing houses with the first building being 3D printed in Dubai — the Future Design Centre. Some of this is all available due to Dubai’s relatively small population and need to bring in outside labour for mundane tasks. Automation removes this need, allowing the Emiraties to continue living the lives they are accustomed to, just with robots doing the jobs not immigrants.
A city state that has really shown us the way for a country with limited resources, lots of people and little space.The Singapore government aims to further develop the country into a Smart Nation (not that it’s stupid now). The somewhat vague mission statements of the Smart Nation Platform aims to improve connectivity through initiatives such as the Heterogeneous Network (HetNet), a plan to connect all the sensor networks, to provide real-time data analytics. Being so small and compact Singapore has always had to focus on being clean, green in order to accommodate for its densely packed population, many tourists are familiar with the $500 chewing gum fine or littering laws. However with little natural resources, Singapore decided to become a global leader in trading, focusing on connecting people and cargo better than anyone else in the world. This can be seen through the port, the airport and of course through their banking. In order to stay on top, Singapore has had to utilize technology faster and better than any other city in the world, and its relatively small population and geographic size becomes the perfect testing grounds for new tech making Singapore an almost living laboratory. Singapore is extremely forward thinking and is already introducing autonomous vehicles onto the city streets with the release of an autonomous bus and more to follow in the coming years. Moreover Singapore is the perfect example of how to turn a concrete jungle into a metropolitan paradise with a large focus on green and returning flora back into the city, Singapore is a city existing cities should look to model in the coming decades.
3. King Abdullah Economic City
This new ‘business hub of the middle east’ is being built on the red sea in order to take advantage of the fact that 24% of global trade moves through the red sea, KAEC is built completely around the port that is one of the biggest in the area and will be one of the top ten busiest ports in the world with 30 deep water hubs.
This $100bn trial has a high focus on jobs and business and this is seen with phase 2 of the plan — the industrial valley which is built on a petrochemical plant, industrial valley already has 60 international companies coming to set up shop where all manufacturing and production will occur to take advantage of the ease of distribution. Not only is KAEC built upon a world class port, it is also linked to the main cities of Saudi Arabia via a high speed train, connecting Jedda, Mecca and Medina in less than an hour. It is also built upon a massive road network, connecting the entire country.
However KAEC is community focussed and construction has already begun on the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which after receiving a $20b endowment from the King himself, makes it the 3rd best funded university in the world, behind Harvard and Yale. It is also the first mixed gender university in Saudi and at 36 square kilometers in size it houses a marine sanctuary, museum and a research facility.
Dubbed the ‘Connected City,’ this $35b project began in 2001 and is built out of reclaimed land (1500 acres) in one of the most densely populated countries in the world.- South Korea. With 40% of the city being parks and green spaces — including mimicking global icons such as central park, the grand canal and the savannah in georgia this city is about connecting people together.
The most futuristic thing about Songdo is that the whole city is connected through a central network. Businesses, schools and residences are all connected: meaning everyone would be able to control the functions of their homes remotely and everyone would be able to interact through video from everywhere. Songdo is being designed as the central business district for north east asia and is creating a family lifestyle that those who live in Seoul are not so accustomed to. Open space, walk to central park, Being able to control their home from their phone — unlocking doors, seeking areas of energy use and reducing them, turning appliances off.
The city sucks rubbish directly from people’s kitchens, directly to the processing plant via underground suction tubes, and the entire city runs off sensors — from alerting the government when problems occur, to letting you know exactly where your bus is and when it will arrive.
This “Green City” has been designed as a massive experiment, Masdar is a Zero Carbon Zero waste city, on the outskirts of Abu Dahbi.
Cars are completely forbidden those arriving must park outside and then take personal rapid transit vehicles to their destination. These are 1–2 person automated pod type cars that move around the city by themselves. Because of the lack of cars, streets as we know them are not necessary and therefore Masdar has much smaller narrower streets, designed for pedestrians but it is also this design that helps cool masdra from the hot Arabian sun. A lot of time and energy went into researching How to build buildings and match the technology so that it all uses a lot less energy as a result houses are designed to perfection using new materials to deflect or absorb the sun’s rays and the city uses wind technology and smart design to cool the city to the point that it is 15 degrees celsius cooler than downtown Abu Dhabi.
Fully sustainable, the project started in 2006 to create entire city powered by renewable energy and once finished in 2025 it will house 40,000 people.
It Currently runs a 10 megawatt production plant, however construction of a 100 megawatt production plant has begun, this will far outweigh the amount of energy the city needs and will send the extra electricity into nearby Abu Dhabi.
Planned as a hub for cleantech companies, Though it is not yet inhabited by residents, the eco-city will primarily host commercial and manufacturing facilities for environmentally-friendly products. Masdar is currently home to the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a facility focused on researching ways to save our environment with one of those projects being a recycling centre that reuses all the waste material from construction into the construction of other buildings. Masdar is being dubbed the “greenprint” for how cities can accommodate rapid urbanisation and dramatically reduce energy, water and waste.
An interesting thing to note is that all these cities are in Asia, as Asia proves once again to be leading the rest of the world into becoming the continent of the future.