Over the years, many ideas have been placed on the table for eco- or biofriendly cities. Designs have shown futuristic buildings, domed communities and places most of us never would have thought of, even in our wildest dreams.
Image by Emma Buckley
So what makes up an eco city? Well sustainability should be a key factor. Of course many other factors could be considered including green design, a close proximity to nature, rooftop or community gardens, recycling, waste to energy, sustainable building practices, solar, wind and other alternative energies, public transportation, car-free, walkability, work-live-play environment, etc.
Image by J. Scratchley
Here are a few cities who are actually bringing the future closer to the present. Check out these eco cities of the future coming to the here and now:
1. Tianjin Eco-City in China: Eco cities are starting to become the latest trend in green. I mean why settle for a simple building or business when you can green an entire city?! Tianjin Eco-City for example has been designed to highlight many of the latest green technologies and amenities. Sun-powered solarscapes, light powered rail (with plans for 90% of transportation to be public transport), wind power, rainwater collection, wastewater treatment, an eco-valley and rolling landscapes are just a few of the biofriendly features of this eco-city.
2. Dockside Green in Victoria, B.C.: Located near downtown Victoria, B.C. Canada, the eco-environment known as Dockside Green has been taking strides to become a self-sufficient, sustainable community. It is a truly all-inclusive mixed development designed in and around nature. Dockside Green hopes to be right up there in terms of eco cities of the future and with the inclusion of waterways, a mini-transit system, vehicle-sharing programs, walking and biking trails they are well on their way. Take a look at the story of Dockside Green:
3. Low Carbon Future City of the island of Hainan: Then there is the low carbon “future city” from SBA Design for the Chinese island of Hainan. One of the key features of this city is it is designed to be a low carbon smart city which generates, stores and delivers renewable energy based on demand.
It also has environmentally-friendly transportation, a broad walkability and an abundance of green areas. Of course, since tourism is a big item for the island, the future city factors in eco-tourism as part of its sustainability.
4. Amanora Hills in India: Located in Pune, India, MVRDV has broken ground on what they consider as Phase I of a truly revolutionary vertical city. Amanora is a large (4.3 million sq ft) mixed-use development which will include affordable housing as well as a variety of amenities (herb gardens, courtyards, etc) designed to make vertical living comfortable and eco-friendly.
Amanora future towers will include such features as: an abundant clean water supply, 20% of the area being used for innovative parks, gardens & playgrounds, caring for the existing ecological system, providing efficient waste management systems and tapping into rainwater harvesting systems. The sound isn’t the best, but watch this video to get a more in-depth look at the Amanora Township:
5. Masdar City in Abu Dhabi: Promoted far and wide as a green city rising out of the desert sands of Abu Dhabi, Masdar City had high hopes of being the first zero carbon, zero waste city. Truly a city of the future.
Unfortunately due to required cutbacks and budget woes, Masdar City isn’t exactly panning out as they originally envisioned. However, that doesn’t mean their ideas about renewable energy, clean technology, public transportation and sustainability won’t eventually be brought to fruition.
But while Masdar City is working to build sustainability from the ground up, many of their innovative designs and ideas could also be incorporated into refurbishment and reuse projects around the world. Turning existing resources into more sustainable resources is a smart way to bring out eco cities of the future.
It’s the idea of taking what we have i.e. instead of imagining science fiction cities of the future, going with a little more street level livability like can be found in Copenhagen.
Then there are cities, such as Paris, France, who are envisioning a utopian city sprouting up from a busy metropolis into a thriving green community designed and transformed into an urban paradise.
The ideas are limitless, but in my opinion the key to eco cities of the future revolves around making use of existing resources. Refurbishing and re-using buildings and land that were once allocated for something else. Putting solar on existing buildings rather than open land. Bringing communities back together through gardens, projects and centralized parks, etc.
What the future holds for eco cities has yet to be seen. But based on recent progress, advancements and the determination of cities to become more self-sufficient and sustainable, I have no doubts that the cities we once thought were only visions of the far-off future, will soon become the realities of tomorrow.