While growing up, I always imagined staying in a massive villa with a bedroom and bathroom for myself. And when that dream came true, I wished to be in a complex facing the sea, and bang, that wish also came true. But now I crave the quiet and peaceful sound of nature and birds in and around me. I want to live close to nature and not hear the screams of the traffic day in and out.
So am I dreaming a far-fetched dream?
I don’t think so because futuristic cities are a thing of the near present, if not now. Many housing societies are being redeveloped to incorporate the environment in their homes, and many new projects are planned with clean air, no traffic and a forest by your house.
Welcome to the future of living; you will want to move into one of these properties soon. The list is enormous, and here is a critical summary of the big mega projects that are being planned. If you want to see part 1 of this series, I have talked about the Neom project of Saudi Arabia, the pros and cons and, of course, the sustainability analysis of this megapolis.
Liuzhou Vertical Forest City, China
The first forest city in the world is being developed in a country you would not expect — China. Spread across the Liujiang River, in an area spanning 175 hectares of land; the Vertical Forest City is being built to house 30,000 residents and 40,000 plants and cover approximately 100 species of trees.
Planned by the famous architect Stefano Boeri Architetti, this vast complex will absorb 10,000 tons of CO₂ (equivalent to CO₂ emitted by an average car running for 37 crore km run) and even 57 tonnes of the dangerous micro-particles annually. Moreover, the complex will produce 900 tonnes of pure oxygen to benefit its residents⁽¹⁾. First, however, the building and its residents must spend money and time preserving these trees and greenery⁽²⁾.
The green city will be self-sufficient in energy as it will be powered by geothermal energy for the building spaces and solar panels and wind energy for electricity⁽¹⁾. Furthermore, the streets will be biker- and pedestrian-friendly, and a local train station will serve commuters from far distances. Electric car options are in the plans for the future⁽³⁾. If this city has captivated your interest, wait till you read about the next one.
Toyota’s Woven City
When I think of Toyota, I think of mobility and beautiful cars built for safety, speed, and convenience. But did you know that the very first industry started by Toyota was the handloom business? And today, they are weaving something else; they are weaving a futuristic city that is set to become the first living laboratory.
Set against the beautiful backdrop of Mount Fuji, in a 175-hectare land area, Toyota’s Woven City is something like a ‘living laboratory’, where engineers, scientists and, researchers, architects have the special opportunity to build and test technologies of the future⁽⁴⁾. Unlike the linear structure of the Neom, this city is planned to house around 2000 lucky inhabitants and will then grow over time in a woven design, as shown below⁽⁴⁾. Its name, ‘Woven City’, comes from an interesting history. Toyota started its operations as a loom company, and now it hopes to use its futuristic technologies to weave a city that will unite people together to enjoy life together with nature⁽⁵⁾.
The city is planned in such a way that the streets are split to serve specific purposes: the primary street is for fast autonomous vehicles, the next street will be for residents who want to walk at leisure paces and cyclists, and the third one is a linear park⁽⁵⁾.
The houses will be built with carbon-sequestering wood, which has photovoltaic panels on their rooftops⁽⁵⁾.
Solving the world’s overpopulation crisis is going to be the biggest challenge for urban spaces, as more and more rural population is going to migrate for better opportunities. And smart cities that incorporate renewable energies and the natural environment into buildings will only be the solution for the future.
In my opinion, both these cities are beautifully planned and have started construction phases, and will be a good choice for moving in. Being surrounded by trees and shrubs, you not only breathe in fresh air but also enjoy cool temperatures, which is a necessity, considering the global warming effects on the planet.
However, the technology always comes with its own downfalls, and smarter cities have some risks that must be thought and mitigated. Smart cities collect huge amounts of data, which will hinder the privacy of the residents, and the security and breach of the data are something the residents will always be worried about⁽⁶⁾.
Another big disadvantage of smart cities is the cost or affordability. It is true that the common man would not be able to live in such a city, and schemes to make such complexes affordable need to be provided as well. After building such a huge complex, if it doesn’t attract people to move in, these will become ghost towns, wasting money, materials, and energy.
the world needs smart and bold ideas like the one presented above, as the future of living is only going to get cloudier and dirtier. We need more green spaces in our homes rather than just AI technologies. And countries need to focus on building smart green cities rather than tall luxurious skyscrapers. And the truth is that many futuristic cities are being developed and will be discussed in the future series. Stay tuned.
The article was authored by Jenifer F Dsouza, an environmental consultant with an M.S. degree from The University of Manchester, U.K. She has over seven years of experience in water technologies and is an ESG consultant. She advocates for environmental consciousness and is a content and technical writer for ecological issues. She has authored 11 peer-reviewed journals during her academic research with collaborative projects with MIT University, Boston.
- Liuzhuo Forest City, Stephano Boeri Architectti, https://www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net/en/project/liuzhou-forest-city/
- Forest Cities, Nature conquers the heart of cities; Tomorrow City, 4-06-22, https://tomorrow.city/a/forest-cities-nature-conquers-the-heart-of-cities
- Inside China’s plan for a massive forest city, Fast Company, 24-07-2017, https://www.fastcompany.com/40442721/inside-chinas-plan-for-a-massive-forest-covered-city
- Toyota Woven City, Toyota, 26-11-2020, https://www.toyota.co.nz/about-toyota/sustainability-in-action/2020/adaptation/toyota-woven-city/
- Toyota and Big to build sustainable emission-free smart cities, 4-03-2020, https://www.stirworld.com/see-features-toyota-and-big-to-build-sustainable-emission-free-woven-city-in-japan
- Smart cities are losing their lustre, GreenBiz, 3-01-2022, https://www.greenbiz.com/article/smart-cities-are-losing-their-luster-heres-why