Cities of the future – pleasant and productive
The city of the future will be swarming with people and cars, while each block will form its own little village.
DNA invited futurologists to imagine what cities will look like in 2030. Their visions are based on urban technological and historical trends. Historically, towns sometimes sprouted from such focal points as a new factory that then grows like a massive patchwork quilt where people commuted to and from work. Important places in daily life, homes, schools, workplaces, grocery stores, and recreational centres could all be located just about anywhere.
“In order to get by in the rat race of today, families need to own two cars. The promise of the future is that cities could be auspiciously redesigned so that they would have a better, more socially efficient structure, making people’s lives more easy to manage,” says Juha Kostiainen, SVP in charge of urban development and corporate relations at YIT.
Life on city blocks and indoor gardening
In the denser cities of the future, people will spend their days not in traffic jams, but with other people.
“Jobs will be found where people most like to hang out. Thanks to the ubiquity of GPS and other similar technologies, everyone with a smartphone will be able to see, real-time, exactly what is going on in their neighbourhoods. Unlike in the old days, when all we had were yellow pages, they’ll be able to find almost any service or anything else they want,” says Aleksi Neuvonen, a futures researcher at the Demos think tank in Helsinki.
Communication in this high tech world of the future will consist mainly of local and remote devices interacting with each other. And another interesting development is that some of these devices will generate their own power.
Futurologist Ilkka Halava believes that major cities will eventually produce all the food they consume.
“The world has not quite grasped the potential benefits that could be reaped via indoor gardening. This ecologically friendly technology promises a great leap in food production. Some experts think that the cultivation of an area just the size of the Netherlands would be enough to feed the whole world.”
A network of mega cities
Even though life will be blooming in the city of the future, people will also move around – even longer distances than today – to meet other people. Neuvonen is curious to see whether Helsinki and Tallinn will merge in a way that’s similar to Copenhagen and Malmö. Halava envisions a globe speckled with mega cities, which he even refers to as city states, with people and information passing between them.
According to Kostiainen, transportation within a mega city will rely on a huge public system of driverless cars whose owners are not the same people as their users. At night, these cars will drive themselves beyond the city limits for storage and maintenance.
“The significance of this would be to free a city from the chains of its parking lot needs. Just think about how much space could be shifted from parking towards better purposes,” Kostiainen says.
How can these changes be achieved? Mika Pantzar, research professor at the National Consumer Research Centre, does not believe that the markets would steer cities in a naturally optimal direction. He calls for cooperation involving city planners, and the retail and construction sectors, among others.
“A complete solution cannot truly be found by a single person,” Pantzar says.