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Smart Cities: The Latest Architecture and News

Planners Must Now “Anticipate the Unanticipated”

“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?”

Imagine Austin Growth Concept Map / City of Austin. Image Courtesy of The DirtASLA 2021 Professional Analysis and Planning Honor Award. Parsons Island Conservation and Regeneration Plan. Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, United States. Mahan Rykiel Associates. Image Courtesy of The DirtPlacetype plan / City of Aurora, Colorado. Image Courtesy of The DirtHarold Simmons Park, Dallas, Texas / Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates.. Image Courtesy of The Dirt+ 4

Design Ethics: Rethinking Practice in 2021

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. 

© Stijn Bollaert© Adli Wahid© CO Adaptive Architecture© Anne Fougeron+ 13

Why Are Countries Building Their Cities From Scratch?

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.

Terracotta façade of student dormitories in Masdar City, designed by Foster & Partners. Image © Tyler CaineThe Line project in Saudi Arabia. Image © NEOMOceanix City. Image © Bjarke Ingels GroupSongdo International Business District, South Korea. Image Courtesy of KPF+ 12

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”.

© Foster + Partners© Foster + Partners© Foster + Partners© Foster + Partners+ 7

MVRDV Unveils "Sky Valley", Chengdu Future Science and Technology City, in Southwest China

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.

© ATCHAIN© MVRDV© MVRDV© MVRDV+ 10

7 Practical Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Urban Management

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.

UNStudio’s Marianthi Tatari Explores Human-Centered Smart Cities in reSite Podcast

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.

© Jakub Cervenkai© Hufton+Crow© Christian Richters© Tomas Princ+ 9

Why Africa is the Future of Megacities

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.

Unexpected Ways Our Cities Are Becoming Smarter

Cities across the globe are undergoing makeovers - swapping out old, antiquated technology for new, sleek alternatives. The development and implementation of computer vision and real-time analytics are ushering in the newest wave of smart cities. The combination of cloud-based dashboards and machine learning are providing actionable data to be collected and understood regarding everything from vehicle concentration to pedestrian activity. As cities continue to push forward and develop socially and technologically, there is no doubt we will continue to see cities incorporate tools like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to facilitate such changes. Despite the fact that eye-popping technologies like drones and robots are at the forefront of this technological revolution, there are also a number of unexpected ways cities are becoming smarter.

London Launches Open Source App for Homebuilding

Bryden Wood, Cast, and the Mayor of London have launched a new app to speed up the capital’s home building. The freely-available app, titled PRISM, is aimed at the design and construction of high-quality, factory-built homes to address the current demand of 50,000+ houses per year.

Why Technology Isn’t The Answer for Making Cities Smarter

Innovation and technology are often presented as inextricably linked ideas. Yet, when it comes to solving today’s urban problems, technology does not always represent the best way forward.

Innovation instead should come from a thorough understanding of the city’s functions and processes, including its municipal government and other local organizations. Technology can help, yes, but cannot be used as a panacea.

The We Company Launches Future Cities Initiative with Studio Dror

The We Company has announced plans to launch a Future Cities Initiative, hiring the head of Studio Dror and a former Google executive to lead the team. Dror Benshetrit and Di-Ann Eisnor will work with engineers, architects, data scientists, biologists, and economists to generate ideas addressing problems raised by globalization, urbanization, and climate change.

Known for pioneering works such as their vegetated biosphere in Montreal, Studio Dror has been creating visions for designing without boundaries since their inception 17 years ago. Working at the intersection of art, design, and architecture, Dror has led a team of designers, artists, architects, researchers, and communicators to create holistic design solutions for everything from a vase to a city masterplan, a lightbulb to an island, and a collaboration with NASA.

© Studio Dror© Studio Dror© Studio Dror© Studio Dror+ 4

UNStudio Designs 'World's Smartest Neighborhood' in the Netherlands

Dutch design practice UNStudio has created a new urban vision to create the world's smartest neighborhood in the Netherlands. Located in Helmond’s Brandevoort District, the project was imagined as a flexible grid that will be developed per users’ demand. Dubbed the Brainport Smart District, the project explores ​​social cohesion and safety, health, data, new transport technologies and independent energy systems. The BSD is designed to be a living lab that embraces experimentation and ‘learning by doing’.

Brainport Smart District. Image Courtesy of UNStudioBrainport Smart District. Image Courtesy of UNStudioBrainport Smart DistrictBrainport Smart District+ 14