Designing the cities of the future
The cities of tomorrow will not look like the cities of today.
Our vision of the sustainable city of the future is one that works for the people and the planet, with the best solutions contributing to both of these goals and can leverage the synergies between different solutions, such as combining nature-based solutions with decentralised, renewable energy systems through roof-mounted agrivoltaics and urban farming.
1. Future cities must be sustainable
The cities of tomorrow will not look like the cities of today. The publication of the Climate Change 2022 Mitigation of Climate Change report by the IPCC has led some to call for us to rethink our cities. 1 And for good reason. Today, cities consume 75% of global primary energy, and are responsible for 50-60% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. 2 With the percentage of the population living in cities projected to grow from 55% today to 68% in 2050, 3 this impact is poised to grow further.
When it comes to climate change, we are past the time of re-thinking. We must actively engage in rebuilding. This is a feeling shared by many young people, as demonstrated by AFRY’s 2021 survey of young people in 7 European countries. This survey found that 39% of young people agree that climate change is among the biggest challenges facing cities in the future, and 47% of young people believe it is important that local decision-makers have an ambitious sustainability agenda. 4
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is an example of such a decision-maker, with her “ville du quart d’heure” plan – a goal to turn Paris into a 15-minute city – making headlines in 2020. 5
2. The 15-minute city
The 15-minute city is a concept that aims to give residents access to most amenities and services they expect from a city, all within 15 minutes of walking or cycling. 6 The application of this concept is versatile – with its neighbourhood layout possible to implement within an existing city or in new development, and scaling from small cities to some of the largest in the world.
The planning and design of such a city requires input collaboration across numerous areas. From urban planning to building engineering and from transportation infrastructure to digitalisation, AFRY is supporting cities' transition to sustainable cities of the future. But a well-designed city is worth nothing without the people and businesses that choose to make it their home.
3. Achieving a sustainable city
Our vision of a sustainable city is one that works for the people and the planet, with the best solutions contributing to both of these goals:
A 15-minute city concept supports the planet by taking cars off the road in favour of walking, cycling, or public transportation while saving people time in their day that would have been spent in transit
Natural urban oases and green corridors can provide recreational spaces and a respite from the bustle of city streets while contributing significantly to improved conditions in the local environment 7
Decentralised renewable and zero-emissions energy systems reduce GHG emissions contributing to global climate efforts while also reducing local point-source emissions from emissions-intensive centralised generating stations
These are only a few of the many pathways towards realising sustainable cities of the future, that should be implemented in parallel. We envision projects that can leverage the synergies between different solutions, such as combining nature-based solutions with decentralised, renewable energy systems through roof-mounted agrivoltaics and urban farming.
AFRY Management Consulting, along with our colleagues in the engineering divisions, are proud to support clients who are ready to shift the paradigm from re-thinking to re-building and make the cities of the future a reality today.
- 1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/lauriewinkless/2022/04/21/rethinking-our-c… ↩
- 2. https://unhabitat.org/topic/energy ↩
- 3. https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/2018-revision-of… ↩
- 4. https://afry.com/sites/default/files/2021-10/AFRY_Future%20Cities%20sur… ↩
- 5. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/07/paris-mayor-unveils-15-mi… ↩
- 6. https://www.cnu.org/publicsquare/2021/02/08/defining-15-minute-city ↩
- 7. https://www.c40knowledgehub.org/s/article/Cities100-Medellin-s-intercon… ↩