Urbanie & Urbanus

Issue 2023 Dec

Future Vision

Editor’s Note

How has the vision for a ‘future city’ evolved over the last 100 years? Where are we walking towards from 1920’s architecture?

In contemporary and global cities worldwide, and with significant financial backing within regions such as the Middle East and China, the future of our cities has become intricately linked to a necessary drive towards cities that can cope with this density whilst being green, sustainable and with a digital infrastructure that is ubiquitous and seamless. One such proposal is the Chengdu Sky Valley in China, where architects MVRDV suggests the integration of a "livable city into the Linpan Landscape." This concept aims to be both rooted and future orientated by blending the natural with the technological, the urban with the rural, and the contemporary with the traditional. Another striking urban concept is "The Line" in Saudi Arabia, a 170km linear city designed to accommodate seven million residents. The central idea behind this concept is to ensure that all essential facilities are within a five-minute walk for every resident, The project seeks to offer a sustainable future by reducing reliance on private transporation be providing a high-speed rail system that connects any two parts of the city within 20 minutes and a planning concept that ensures all essential facilities are within a five-minute walk for every resident.

In Europe, where urban space is limited, cities will encounter significant obstacles in looking forwards whilst preserving their cultural and architectural heritage. Architects will be compelled to integrate existing legacy structures into their futuristic city plans. London and Paris serve as prime examples of metropolises that have sought to rise to the challenge of blending the classical with the contemporary. From the bustling financial hub of the City of London to the coexistence of I.M. Pei’s glass and steel pyramid at the heart of the Renaissance-era Louvre museum complex, these cities demonstrate the potential for an engaging integration .

As 2023 draws to a close there is an active debate about the role and practicality of things that once seemed so distantly futuristic, such as flying cars. In this context what lies ahead for both the future and the cultural heritage of Hong Kong? One example is how after 120 years Hong Kong continues to witness the iconic trams ringing through its streets. During this time the tram system has transitioned from being the primary mode of transportation for the local community to more of a supporting role. Gracefully gliding through Hong Kong Island, these trams serve as mobile billboard for the city, with the planning of trams remained relatively unchanged as the city around them is in a constant state of transformation. As we continue to prioritize mobility, walkability, and overall livability on our streets, It is worth considering how the urban area of Hong Kong can strive towards achieving a "1-minute living circle” and whether the full potential of the tram system as part of this endeavor has yet to be fully realized. One wonders how a network of flying cars and our unequivocally grounded tram system might coexist…