Living in the sky: the concept of vertical cities 1

Have you ever thought about world-wide increasing population? Yes sure, you may say, it is a topic you hear every day. Due to the explosion of the world’s population, humanity is facing the problem of feeding all the people on earth, providing them with clean water and finding the energy that is needed for producing so much food and distributing so much water. But have you ever thought about where to physically fit so many people on the planet?

The world population is increasing dramatically every year and predicted to grow from 7 to 9 billion by 2050. However, the more pressing phenomenon is that more and more people move from the countryside to metropolitan areas. This particularly happens in developing countries where cities like Delhi and Shanghai are expected to reach 30-35 million people in 2030 – approximately the population of the present Canada.

Rural exodus: What drives people to migrate?

The first big urban migration in Europe dated back to the industrial revolution in the 18th century, when English farmers moved to cities in search for a better life. Still the reasons of urban migration nowadays are similar: people migrate driven by the opportunities of having a better education, finding a job or expressing their creativity. However, in the following years, desertification and climate change may also force people to abandon rural areas, thus contributing to increase the urban population density.

Where to fit all these people without affecting the environment?

Cities have been proven to be efficient solutions to ensure resources for a huge number of inhabitants using shared infrastructures. But expanding cities have also drawbacks. On a planet that has already been evicted of many of its forests, valleys and rivers, we are in search of innovative ways to give all these new citizens a house and services without altering the surrounding nature.

Instead of making cities grow horizontally, urban planner and architects like Daniel Winey, thought to make them spread vertically. In other words, take all the different components of a city (flats, offices, shops, hospitals, museums, schools, parks, restaurants….) and put one on top of the other, thus creating a gigantic tower. Does it sound creepy? Maybe yes, but it has to be considered that this kind of vertical cities are environmental friendly: they generate their own renewable energy using wind turbines or solar panels, collect and recycle rain water, reduce pollution (people do not use cars, but rather take elevators), and could also include farms in order to provide food at km 0. It seems too futuristic to be true, but Daniel has already created a building like that: it is the Shanghai tower, the second tallest skyscraper in the world that will be inaugurated this year.

If you are curious to see how it looks like, watch the TEDx talk of Daniel Winey, where he explains the concept of vertical cities and takes you on a journey to the sky!

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One thought on “Living in the sky: the concept of vertical cities

  • Lennon

    I’m glad Daniel mentioned connecting vertical structures together because that is a major aspect of the Vertical City concept, at least as we describe it. Mixed use buildings are good, but without sky connections between them, they are simply very large monolithic structures. If you are on the 100th floor of one building and you want to go to the 100th floor in a neighboring building, then it would make sense to use a sky-lobby rather than going to the ground plain and then taking an elevator back up.

    I also agree with the term “mega suburbs.” That’s exactly how I felt when I was staying outside the inner ring in Shanghai, “I’m in the suburbs. It just so happens that this is a very large and dense suburb.”