When we think of future cities, we might picture flying vehicles or space-age architecture, but how will they cope with the growing trend in urbanisation? According to current predictions, more than two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050. As demand for city living continues, so does the need to create better living conditions and more sustainable environments.
The growing trend in urbanisation has led to a number of challenges, with population growth and migration leading to overcrowding and an increased strain on current resources and infrastructure. Services we take for granted, such as waste disposal or recycling, can often be outdated or ill-equipped to deal with this increased demand.
As the trend for city living increases, so does the cost of housing, potentially leading to an affordability crisis for lower-income residents and a rise in income inequality and crime levels. Urban areas are also a cause for many health concerns. Increasing levels of car ownership and insufficient public transport can lead to high levels of congestion; together with urban construction and industrial activities, this can lead to an increase in air pollution levels. High population densities also encourage the spread of disease and there are growing concerns for the decline in mental health of urban residents compared to those living in rural areas.
Cities are constantly evolving to adapt to challenges like these in an effort to improve the living conditions for their residents. It is highly likely that cities of the future will continue to evolve with the aid of biomimicry, a design approach that takes inspiration from natural elements to develop more sustainable and resilient urban environments. Singapore (pictured) is a great example of how creating green spaces in its urban architecture allows opportunities for sustainability, biodiversity and mental wellbeing, while helping to counter the urban heat island effect.
Cities will become smarter with advancements in technology. The Internet of Things and artificial intelligence will increase the level of automation and optimise services like transportation, energy usage and waste management. As the popularity of autonomous vehicles grows, cities may see a shift away from privately owned vehicles that will help decrease pollution levels, congestion and traffic accidents.
Current urban space constraints may be resolved through vertical expansion, taking advantage of the space high above the ground within cities. Vertical farming techniques will most likely be used to maximise crop yields from a limited land area; this will allow food to be grown near to urban environments and reduce the need for long haul transportation.
From the advancements we can see today to the challenges we have yet to overcome, it’s clear that our cities of the future will have a continued focus on sustainability and resilience. Developing practices such as an urban circular economy will help ensure the preservation of our planet’s resources and address current climate change issues while an enhancement of the quality of life for its residents will improve levels of health and wellbeing. It is therefore vital that governments, businesses and city residents work together in a collaborative effort to help bring about these important changes.