Sustainable design has been a hot goal for city infrastructures over the better part of two decades. Planners are constantly looking for ways to minimize their impact and improve the operations of their cities.
Today’s technology makes that not only more possible, but offers a huge asset for the way cities are designed.
Maximizing Technology for Sustainable City Design
Sustainable cities that are both functional and beautiful are impossible with outdated technology. In order to keep up with constant changes, designers rely on ever-evolving rendering technology for architects, landscape artists, and urban planners.
These technologies are now easily accessible and designed to work on the fly. They help with some of the most complex challenges, such as optimal space planning and applying designs in context.
“One of the challenges in landscape architecture and urban planning is rendering the project’s context,” says an article from Lumion, a top-rated design rendering service. “From planting large amounts of trees to showing the bustle of traffic or people in a city, context creation is often seen as an essential, yet time-consuming task.”
Smart Cities Are Evolving
Old cities receive a breath of fresh air yet maintain the charm of aging architecture that’s been adapted to run on alternative sources of energy. Steps taken during the further development of these cities have the potential to lessen the environmental impact for generations, if they keep up with evolving technologies.
“A smart city is always evolving. It makes use of automated technology to gather data, and then uses that data to regulate and control any number of municipal systems,” explains an article from the organization Easy Render.
“These systems range from transportation to education, but also include complex networks of buildings, roads, bridges and electric grids. Making cities smarter means making them aware of the inputs that contribute to how these various systems operate, then using technology automatically make things more efficient.”
Part of this evolution consists of updates to essential architecture and design technologies. It’s vital for urban planners stay on top of current tools and services that keep designing cities of the future a manageable challenge.
The Future Requires Updates to Sustainable Design
Sustainable design is shaping the growth of cities beyond what we have known, and architects and designers have to incorporate sustainable designs that mesh with the changes in urban planning.
“While dialogue about futuristic cities once was reserved for fiction and imagination, the global trend toward urbanization is poised to make some aspects of these visions become reality in our lifetimes,” says Ramona Albert, founder and principal of Ramona Albert Architecture.
“By 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas, so our cities need to adapt to sustain this population influx,” she continues. “While digital transformation and the Internet of Things (IoT) certainly will define the cities of the future, so will radical infrastructure and architecture.”
A lot of interested parties are speculating about what a fully sustainable city might look like a decade from now, but most experts agree on at least a few of the following concepts:
- Fewer Cars: As we get closer to autonomous vehicles going mainstream, it’s not hard to imagine a world where we will have fewer cars and trucks on the road, in order to limit pollution and change the need for roads.
- Fewer Parking Garages: As a direct result of fewer cars, this shift will increase available space in commercial areas for other buildings or urban residences. Parking garages are a massive current expense for cities, with very little return on investment, so this will alter space planning as well as improve cities’ budgets.
- High-Density Cities: We’re also likely to see more individuals relocate toward large cities because they can take advantage of greener practices including public transportation, smaller living spaces, and high-efficiency buildings. They’re unlike to enjoy access to such advantages in rural areas.
- Taller Buildings: As city densities grow, space needed for the expanded population will increase. So it’s likely that buildings will grow taller to accommodate this.
- Alternative Energy Installation: Many cities and states have already adopted alternative energy installation incentives, which raises alternative energy consumption in these regions. More cities are likely to adopt alternative energy installation in order to boost reliance on cleaner energy.
- Zero-Emission Buildings: These buildings rarely can boast of no emissions at all, but their carbon footprint is substantially lower. As alternative energy becomes more popular and sustainable building materials are more affordable, we’ll see an increase in the number of green buildings within urban boundaries.
- Cooler Cities: Air conditioning costs, both in vehicles and buildings, have traditionally gone through the roof in cities all over the U.S. during the summer months. Many cities are cracking down on high AC use by implementing cooling technology, like white-washed roads, mirrored buildings, and other sun-reflecting (rather than sun-absorbing) technology.
- Better-Designed Smart Tech: Smart tech might work to reduce utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions, but hasn’t necessarily been appealing from a design standpoint. In future sustainable cities, we can expect better design everywhere.
These trends will drive the way we design cities into the future. As sustainable technologies evolve, so will designers and the features they choose to incorporate.