The city of the future has been featured in many movies. Often showcasing flying cars, all-tech machinery and robot-like humans, sci-fi films fail to include the one driving force behind any city’s development: its people. In a twenty-minute movie, however, Oscar Boyson examines what the “The Future of Cities” will look like and whether the future holds more hope than the present.
“Is future urbanization going to be a good thing or a bad thing?” Boyson ponders, adding that “if you care about people… this is going to be the defining question of our time.”
Boyson explores London, Detroit, Singapore, Copenhagen, Seoul and even heads to the state-of-the-art smart city of Songdo, a Korean metropolis which illustrates what the cities of the future might resemble. The movie seeks to address the world’s future population—70% will be living in urban areas by 2050—and if cities being currently built are what the planet and people need. The project was commissioned by The Nantucket Project and involved “an army of filmmakers” living in cities around the globe.
One of the promising projects featured in the movie is CityWater, an app that tracks down real-time water usage, developed by City Insight. The company’s CEO, Abess Makki, told Boyson that “we [Detroit] are no Silicon Valley, but we are trying to become a city that brings tools and brings solutions and brings jobs back.”
“It is really encouraging, just the fact that the city is willing to do a project like this, and we are hoping to launch that in January 2017 and implement it in other cities,” Makki adds.
Other featured projects include Sky Source, a California-based company that manufactures atmospheric water generators, which capture water from air for drinking and watering purposes. In Los Angeles, around 19% of California’s energy budget goes into supplying the city with water (through pipeline) from a source 1400 miles away. The idea of saving water, obviously, can’t be emphasized enough.
“Every building, ideally, can make its own water and be water self-reliant,” Dave Hertz, the founder of Studio of Environmental Architecture, says.
Transportation of the Future
Guess what? Big highways might not be the solution after all. The filmmaker says that cities are now paying money to get rid of highways, “confirming that more transportation choices and less parking are often the best way to fight traffic and congestion.”
Seoul, Paris and Singapore are a few of the global cities taking steps to become more pedestrian-friendly. “When walking, cycling and public transportation are the fastest ways to move, nobody feels like a second-class citizen for not owning a car,” Boyson states, highlighting the fact that commute time is an indicator of poverty.
The energy crisis in Copenhagen prompted the public to request friendlier bike lanes, which then resulted in bikes outnumbering cars last year.
In Shenzhen, China, the director of Avoid Obvious Architects, Vicky Chin, says that—instead of increasing construction of highways—the new highway design will reduce current infrastructure and prepare for more high-speed, self-driving vehicles and drones.
Perhaps what the film emphasizes the most is the need to hear the people and build cities for the people, stressing that a city doesn’t necessarily need a superstar architect or urban designer to draft a solution, especially when it is perfectly capable of addressing its own needs.
“Cities remind us how much we benefit from, and actually desire to share, physical space with other people, but that doesn’t mean one city can’t learn from another,” Boyson says.