2050 – A future where American cities are thriving with ethnic diversity & intelligent buildings.

2050 – A future where American cities are thriving with ethnic diversity & intelligent buildings.

By:  Jill Mendoza So what will buildings look like in 2050? For most of us 2050 is far enough off we may not be thinking much about it but folks like Joel Kotkin, author of “The Next Hundred Million, American in 2050” and the engineering and design firm Arup through their Foresight + Innovation group are envisioning a future that will be very different from today. Current trends tell us a few things are likely. For example, by 2050 we are told three-quarters of human population will live in a City.  That is 6.75 billion of the projected 9 billion globally.  Over the next 35 years America’s own population will grow from 300 Million to 400 Million.  During this time everyone will have grown up with the Internet, and its successors.  Most importantly, city residents will have access to fewer natural resources than today, making regeneration and efficiency more of a priority. Kotkin notes; “in the coming decades, urbanites will flock in far greater numbers to affordable, vast, and auto-reliant metropolitan areas such as Huston, Phoenix and Las Vagas, than to glamorous but expensive industrial cities like New York and Chicago.” Where Kotkin, describes America’s changing demographic, Arup’s Foresight + Innovation team, “foresees that structures will be fully integrated into the fabric of the city, responsive to changes in the external environment, and designed for continuous adaptability, according to real-time needs and demands of its users”. Arup’s report, It’s Alive list the following drivers of change; Population growth, urbanization, climate change, new patterns of food production, scarcity of natural resources, security and surveillance society, environmental consciousness, smart cities, intelligent buildings, nano and biotechnology revolution, robotics and automation, user-driven design, community and systems integration and ecological age. In summary Kotkin predicts city living will take center stage for many of us and ethnic diversity will be America’s strength.  While Arup’s report helps us visualize what we may come to expect from the design and function of those urban structures and buildings we will be flocking to. This forward-thing report is illustrated with a series of artist’s impressions, to demonstrate how the futuristic components – such as photovoltaic surfaces and algae producing bio-fuel pods – can theoretically enable buildings to produce food, energy and resources. “ As designers we must always be thinking about the future and at the same time remain relevant to the present.  So it is only natural for us and fun to explore these more far reaching ideas.  Ideas that are both profoundly hopeful and different but not in any way Polly-anna-ish. What does your vision of the 2050 look like?   Photograph courtesty of Aurp.

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