Urban planning for the future

The human faculty for imagining is the wall that separates us from all other animals. Our ability to conjure up senses and images in our heads and, by proxy, foresee an idea of the future, is unique. Concept projects and ideas therefore, even though they may seem superfluous now, can be a tremendous way of bringing together the collective imagination in order to encourage us to think bigger, better and further into the future.

This proposal by Bjarke Ingels Group, a Danish firm set up by Bjarke Ingels in 2006, won the Audi Urban Future 2010. The idea is based on the concept of ‘smart streets’ and driver-less cars and asserts that the only thing stopping this from becoming a reality is a problem of infrastructure, rather than of technological advances or anything else.

This is all well and good, but these proposals are aimed at around the 2030 mark. Closer to home, I thought this video about the potential of solar panelled roads in the United States was interesting. All problems to do with glass strength and advanced technology are insignificant, all that is lacking is public will. I think it could be seriously successful:

Global warming has its critics, but even if we disregard the idea that the world is set to drown in the next 100 years, the fact remains that finite resources are becoming more and more scarce as populations (and consequent demands) rise. Simple solutions such as these are worth exploring sooner rather than later, unless we want to end up in a rather less romantic version of this situation:

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