What cities of the future need

FutureImage Credit: Gulf News Archives

Cities of the future will be compact, diverse and walkable communities, much like the neighbourhood concepts of the medieval period, said Prof. Kent L. Larson, Director of City Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an expert on new urban housing and vehicles, at the third Government Summit in Dubai last week.

Prof. Larson said it’s the past that holds the key to the future and urged governments to design cities for people and not machines. Emphasising best utility of space and resources, he identified density, proximity and diversity as three key factors to creating an innovative society that enjoys a good quality of life, and added that 93 per cent of patented inventions take place in metro areas that provide these factors.

New urban spaces based on this concept will pave the way for innovation and create cities that are smart, green and sustainable. Describing his concept of the new urban system, Prof. Larson said that high density should not be seen as a challenge but as an opportunity for cities to become innovation centres. “Done badly, density leads to traffic jams, crime, pollution and a host of other problems. But done well, density creates better economic growth, security and innovation,” he added.

Likewise, proximity to workplaces as well as diverse districts that include everything necessary within a walking distance are critical to creating urban innovation. Cities of the future will also encourage shared use of autonomous vehicles in compact districts as an alternative to private automobiles. “The future is moving from an ownership society to shared modes,” Larson said.

Autonomous city cars, shared e-bikes and e-scooters, and foldable cars will ensure efficient use of space on city roads. “With the availability of data on people and their lifestyles, it would be possible to classify them and accordingly provide a mobility system that suits their requirements,” he said.

“Shared vehicles connected to mass transit [systems] offer the real power to the future. They will help get rid of traffic jams and turn lanes.”

Prof. Larson said the cities of the future will also be self-sustained communities producing nutritious food with minimal consumption of water and energy. Unlike most modern farming techniques that often lead to highly contaminated produce, the new approach in city-based farming will use principles of hydroponics and aeroponics to produce food that consumes 90 per cent less water and 60 per cent less fertiliser than traditional methods.

Source: Property Weekly


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