Cities are a canvas for architectural creativity and the dynamism of urban life. In recent years, they have taken on an additional role: that of living laboratories for innovative architecture and urban design. International cities have become experimental grounds for architectural technology, sustainable practices, and human-centered design principles to be tested and refined. This paradigm shift has not only transformed the physical aspects of urban environments but has also redefined the relationship between architecture, community, and the built environment.
Smart Cities: The Latest Architecture and News
Everyone’s experience of a city is unique. Whether one is visiting a place for the first time or has lived there all their life, their experiences are shaped by their personal interactions with the built environment. Buildings, landscapes, and streets come together to offer an opportunity for sensory stimulation, however, most of them are unable to provide inspiration. While a city’s infrastructure accounts for livability, equal importance isn’t given to enjoyability. Play and games embedded in the city’s fabric can help improve user engagement with urban spaces.
Kuwait is planning a 1,600-hectare development that will provide residential units, jobs, and amenities for 100,000 residents. Developed by URB, the ambitious project aims to promote a sustainable lifestyle with high standards of living, yet a low impact on the environment. The masterplan for the smart city is designed to optimize density and amenities distribution to create a walkable city, while also optimizing the green space ratio. This will help mitigate the effects of rising temperatures and the urban heat island effect. The green transportation systems and dedicated cycling tracks will make this a car-free city, apart from a ring road that allows for limited vehicular access. The city also promotes a circular economy that aims to provide food and energy security for the residents.
If you’re reading this right now, or have read an article on ArchDaily, it’s because you were in a place that enabled you to connect to the internet. Think about a time when you found yourself in a dead zone, where the internet was lagging and you were unable to connect your computer to WiFi to finish an assignment or even without the ability to connect your phone to quickly Google something. You likely dashed to the nearest coffee shop, or place where WiFi was more reliable, just to have the feeling of being online again. The internet, in an ideal world, is equally open to all providing access to knowledge and the ability to easily connect with others. But what happens when you don’t have internet? How is your life impacted if you’re on the wrong side of the digital divide and live in an area without broadband access?
As more smart cities make their way across the globe, whether it being in countries of the Far East, Latin America, or the Middle East, Toronto is stepping back from the smart city bandwagon, and reassessing its substantial contribution to the community. The Canadian city, which ranked 15th on Global Finance's ranking of the world's best cities to live in for the year 2022, plans on "killing the smart city forever", especially after Quayside's controversial cancellation reasons, questioning its lack of privacy, necessity on an urban scale, and whether people truly want to live in a tech-driven environment.
“The planning practices of the past are inadequate for today’s challenges,” said David Rouse, ASLA, a landscape architect and planner, at the American Planning Association‘s National Planning Conference in San Diego. Rapid technological change, socio-economic inequities, natural resource depletion, and climate change are forcing planning and design professionals to adapt. “How can the practice of planning evolve to be more sustainable and equitable?”
Ethical practice spans all parts of architecture. From intersectionality and labor to the climate crisis, a designer must work with a range of conditions and contexts that inform the built environment and the process of its creation. Across cultures, policies and climates, architecture is as much functional and aesthetic as it is political, social, economic, and ecological. By addressing the ethics of practice, designers can reimagine the discipline's impact and who it serves.
Imagine having a blank canvas on which to master-plan a brand new city; drawing its roads, homes, commerces, and public spaces on a fresh slate and crafting its unique urban identity. Every urban planner has fantasized about designing a city from scratch and luckily for some, this dream is morphing into concrete opportunities.
Over the last two decades, new, master-planned cities have emerged from the ground up at an unprecedented scale, the majority of which have been created in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, with currently over 150 new cities in the making. This new type of urban development has shown to be particularly seductive in emerging markets, where they are sold as key parts of the strategy to leapfrog from agriculture and resource-based systems to knowledge economies by attracting foreign capital and boosting economic growth.
Foster + Partners Wins Competition to Design Guangming Hub, a New Transport Oriented Development in China
Foster + Partners has just unveiled its winning design scheme for a new urban destination in China, the Guangming Hub located on the high-speed rail connecting Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. In fact, the Transport Oriented Development proposal generates a “smart city that supports the flow of people and goods with robust infrastructure, effective transport networks, reliable public services, and lush greenery”.
MVRDV has revealed the first images of Chengdu Sky Valley, the firm’s competition entry for the Future Science and Technology City in Southwest China. Fusing technology with nature, urban with rural, and modernity with tradition, the proposal introduces “a liveable city into the Linpan Landscape”. Located in one of China’s emerging cities, the project balances the competing needs of the area, through a computational workflow developed by in-house tech taskforce MVRDV NEXT.
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is based on the idea of optimizing, streamlining and expanding the reach of the most diverse operations. Their systems are programmed to identify patterns and carry out predictions, decisions, and ultimately perform and actions with speed and accuracy. The efficiency of the models depends on the quantity and quality of the data, which can be obtained by applications, cameras, and sensors. In the urban context, technology based on the use of artificial intelligence has been seen as a way to improve the management of cities, especially those that are denser and have larger footprints.
Design and the City is a podcast by reSITE, raising questions and proposing solutions for the city of the future. In the sixth episode, Marianthi Tatari, Associate Director and Senior Architect at UNStudio, talks about creating inclusive spaces to connect people and generating 24/7 activity within their projects.
In a discourse about the future of cities, one could be forgiven for limiting their geographical scope to innovations in Europe, the United States, and increasingly, China and Southeast Asia. After all, Shenzhen is about to once again host the world’s only Biennale dedicated exclusively to urbanization, while smart, responsive architecture manifests in visions for cities such as Toronto and London, and tech giants such as Microsoft and Siemens. However, despite our preoccupation with the problems and opportunities of urbanization in the ‘Global North’, and the architectural innovations they herald, there is merit in expanding our horizons – and not just towards Mars. By the end of the century, none of the world’s largest 20 cities will be in China, Europe, or the Americas. Africa, meanwhile, will host 13 out of 20, including the top 3.