This article is available also in spanish here
Five impossible Smart City projects with our existing technology
My list

Author | Marcos Martínez

The past is a fantastic place to find all types of proposals, particularly in terms of what Smart Cities should be like. Whether or not they are a wise choice is another matter. Futurology or prospective studies and, in some areas, hard science fiction, have tried to address this subject, but only successfully on a few occasions. Thanks to this outpouring of imagination and the evidence of previous errors, today we can use our imagination to visualise what a city of the future could be like, even though it will still be decades before we have the technology.

Floating cities for climate migrants

Floating cities in the middle of the ocean are a dream that began centuries ago. However, today we are closer than ever to actually floating them. In 2002, the largest floating breakwater was built in Algeciras (Spain). It took 14 days to be towed to Monaco and it is spectacular: it is 350 metres long and weighs 160,000 tonnes. The operation could easily be repeated.

Oceanix city project

Oceanix City, which opens the article, by Bjarke Ingels, is one of the most recent designs of a floating city. Although it is not the only one —a few years ago the architect Vincent Callebaut designed the Lilypad, a city intended to provide shelter for future climate change refugees—, which has helped the UN to promote these types of projects. In the book, ‘Seasteading’ (as well as the institute that goes by the same name), Joe Quirk captures the vision of this future.

Underwater Smart Cities

smart-cities-of-the-future-23-1280x1003

Underwater cities follow the same trend as floating cities. Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface, but if we compare the land on which we walk with the volume of the oceans, the percentage of dry land is rather small.

Proponents of underwater cities claim several benefits, including increased knowledge of our planet derived from deep-sea exploration and the fact that submarine communities should be extremely efficient to be sustainable. Even if experimental at first, they should push science to advance in fields such as hydroponics, fish farming and even geoengineering, mirroring the advances seen in material science, medicine and rocketry during the space race.

Is it possible to build a city underwater?

A few years ago, the Japanese company Shimizu Corp unveiled the concept for Ocean Spiral. These engineers had thought of everything, food, CO2 emissions, resources, energy… We could say that it is feasible with our existing technology, but the cost would be prohibitive and obviously it is not of interest yet.

One-kilometre tall vertical cities

smart-cities-of-the-future-25-1280x1003

At the moment the building trend appears to be looking more to the skies than to the sea, and each year records are being beaten in terms of height. In 1997, work began on the ‘Bionic Vertical Space’ which led, in 2001, to the ‘Bionic Tower’. This imaginary, yet feasible, building is 1,228 metres tall, with 300 storeys and 12 neighbourhoods, each measuring 80 metres.

The tallest building in the world is the Burj Khalifa (828 metres, completed in 2010), so the idea was not too far-fetched. But the idea behind the Bionic Tower and other similar projects, is to generate self-sustainable environments from known natural mechanisms.

Living cities for 2050

In 2017, Tellart presented an interesting future: cities capable of growing and self-regulating like an organism. A rich colony of “live materials” or biomaterials. Organic desalination plants, bacteria auto-farms and robots It seems absurd, but the idea was presented in the Museum of the Future in Dubai under the supervision of a panel of experts on climate change.

smart-cities-of-the-future-27-1280x1003

The O'Neill cylinder: humanity is going to space

It will probably be centuries before we colonise space, but the cylindrical or toroidal colonies, were designed in 1970. NASA presents some of the designs. Today they are known as ‘O’Neill Cylinders’ and they are enormous space stations that generate artificial gravity inside as they gently rotate. This takes us to the hardest and most speculative form of science fiction.

smart-cities-of-the-future-19-1280x1003

We know that these structures are physically feasible and, furthermore, they are probably a better environment than low-gravity or toxic planets such as Mars. However, we cannot even remotely contemplate this type of “city”. To put it into context, the International Space Station has been under construction since 1998 and it can hold a maximum crew of six persons. The creation of habitats at this scale would not be possible before the implementation of multiple technological or even industrial revolutions.

Space is a long way away, and it is doubtful that we will live underwater, but the climate crisis resulting from greenhouse emissions is going to sharpen our imagination for designing cities and their smart buildings. Maybe the O’Neill Cylinder is still a long way away, but the idea of building self-contained habitats as a response to these challenges should not be discarded.

Images | Oceanix City, Ocean Spiral, Tellart, NASA, Javier Gómez Pioz

Related content
Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town: planning for the next 100 years
Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town: planning for the next 100 years
Ville Radieuse: Why did Le Corbusier’s Radiant City fail?
Ville Radieuse: Why did Le Corbusier’s Radiant City fail?
Sustainable architecture: design, materials and more about sustainable buildings
Sustainable architecture: design, materials and more about sustainable buildings
China land reclamation projects: the country with the most land reclaimed from the sea
China land reclamation projects: the country with the most land reclaimed from the sea
What happened to Dubai man-made islands?
What happened to Dubai man-made islands?
Barcelona 92: the impact of hosting the Olympics in the interest of global exposure
Barcelona 92: the impact of hosting the Olympics in the interest of global exposure
The SMART Port concept: proposing a more social, resilient and environmental port model
The SMART Port concept: proposing a more social, resilient and environmental port model
Smart tunnel: what is it, how does it work and the real example of Malaysia
Smart tunnel: what is it, how does it work and the real example of Malaysia
The Eden Project: What is the purpose of this sustainable city?
The Eden Project: What is the purpose of this sustainable city?
Reclaiming land from the sea: A solution to climate change or an even bigger problem?
Reclaiming land from the sea: A solution to climate change or an even bigger problem?
Angkor: 1000 years since the first major smart city
Angkor: 1000 years since the first major smart city
Seismic reinforcement: how it works and why it is so important
Seismic reinforcement: how it works and why it is so important
Smart cities: The challenges of building a future-ready workforce
Smart cities: The challenges of building a future-ready workforce
Healthy, peaceful and more equitable – life in the low-car city
Healthy, peaceful and more equitable – life in the low-car city
Climate-smart infrastructures: principles and technology
Climate-smart infrastructures: principles and technology
What is mixed-use development? Analysis of pros & cons
What is mixed-use development? Analysis of pros & cons
What is digital infrastructure and examples of its application
What is digital infrastructure and examples of its application
Exercise and urban gyms: the solution for staying fit in cities
Exercise and urban gyms: the solution for staying fit in cities
This is how Venice wants to save itself
This is how Venice wants to save itself
Financing urban infrastructure
Financing urban infrastructure
Building sustainable cities with wooden skyscrapers
Building sustainable cities with wooden skyscrapers
Building resilient smart cities in a post-pandemic world
Building resilient smart cities in a post-pandemic world
Empty office buildings are still devouring energy. Why?
Empty office buildings are still devouring energy. Why?
Decarbonizing Cities - How to Harmonize Buildings, Mobility and Infrastructure
Decarbonizing Cities - How to Harmonize Buildings, Mobility and Infrastructure
Buildings, firms tap smart tech to monitor operations
Buildings, firms tap smart tech to monitor operations
What is a digital twin?
What is a digital twin?
Indian smart cities offer a model for pandemic recovery
Indian smart cities offer a model for pandemic recovery
Urban planning and COVID-19: lessons learned and future challenges
Urban planning and COVID-19: lessons learned and future challenges
CQC/Qicheng: Photocell, Intelligent controller enclosure and dimming receptacle/socket for smart streetlights
CQC/Qicheng: Photocell, Intelligent controller enclosure and dimming receptacle/socket for smart streetlights
Maximising the potential of smart city investments
Maximising the potential of smart city investments
The road to smart city infrastructure starts with research
The road to smart city infrastructure starts with research
Connecting urban environments with IoT and Digital Twins
Connecting urban environments with IoT and Digital Twins
Microsoft: Smart Places and Infrastructure with IoT, AI, and Digital Twins
Microsoft: Smart Places and Infrastructure with IoT, AI, and Digital Twins
[ui!] Urban Software Institute: Mobility for your whole life
[ui!] Urban Software Institute: Mobility for your whole life
AI, image recognition and cloud computing: how do smart ports work?
AI, image recognition and cloud computing: how do smart ports work?
Advantages (and the odd disadvantage) of 3D urban planning
Advantages (and the odd disadvantage) of 3D urban planning
More than just pine and cement: guidelines for smart urban furniture
More than just pine and cement: guidelines for smart urban furniture
Smart infrastructures, the key to more resilient and efficient cities
Smart infrastructures, the key to more resilient and efficient cities
An administrative building in Dubai, the largest 3D printed structure in the world
An administrative building in Dubai, the largest 3D printed structure in the world
Smart Buildings for Smart Workers: improving the efficiency of workers and buildings
Smart Buildings for Smart Workers: improving the efficiency of workers and buildings
Five impossible Smart City projects with our existing technology
Five impossible Smart City projects with our existing technology
Smart hospitals: cities within cities
Smart hospitals: cities within cities
Google is building the city of the future in Toronto
Google is building the city of the future in Toronto
How a Smart Home works: infographic
How a Smart Home works: infographic
Pontus Westerberg, UN-Habitat:
Pontus Westerberg, UN-Habitat: "People need to be allowed to offer their own solutions to the problems in the places in which they live"
Jakarta is sinking and now Indonesia has to find a new capital
Jakarta is sinking and now Indonesia has to find a new capital
Digital twins and urban planning: how to use replicas to building the cities of tomorrow
Digital twins and urban planning: how to use replicas to building the cities of tomorrow
Can parks be smart? These are the key aspects that define a Smart Park
Can parks be smart? These are the key aspects that define a Smart Park
Floating cities: history and future of a sustainable dream that could one day come true
Floating cities: history and future of a sustainable dream that could one day come true
Singapore experiments with its digital twin to improve city life
Singapore experiments with its digital twin to improve city life
Recommended profiles for you
Remember to activate your profile to network!
Activate profile
Supardi Supardi
Supardi Supardi
Aksitaru
Developer
JO
James O’Donoghue
NA
Researcher
Joan Carles  Lopez Mendez
Joan Carles Lopez Mendez
VILADECANS GRUP D'EMPRESAS MUNICIPALS, S.L.
Gerente
Charles Poleni MUKUMBA
Charles Poleni MUKUMBA
.
.
Carlos Gonzalez
Carlos Gonzalez
Winncom Technologies EMEA
Western Europe & UK Sales Director on behalf of Winncom Technologies, worldwide solutions provider
Fathimah Qotrunnada
Fathimah Qotrunnada
Ministry of Home Affairs
Staff
RG
Ronak Gandhi
PCSCL
Material engineer
CZ
Carlos Zabala
Raiz taller
Founder Architect
PB
Pradeep Bansal
GDI
Owner
KW
Khaled Wafai
IICS
President
Pauline Parisse
Pauline Parisse
HEC Paris
I am a student at HEC Paris passionate about the cities of tomorrow
LM
Leonardo Matiz
Matricadigital
Business developmen mannager
Ml
Micaela lin
UPC
student
Luan Lima
Luan Lima
Connectis
Solutions Architect
GS
Guillermo Sepulveda
UABC
Professor Assistant
EF
Erika Flores
Municipalidad distrital de Machupicchu
Jefe
Tiago Tiburcio
Tiago Tiburcio
Pontificial University Chatolic of Campinas (PUC Campinas)
Student
Carlos Clemente Alcázar Milagro
Carlos Clemente Alcázar Milagro
COIT
Smart cities group
YA
Yasser AlAli
SCE
PM &Counsultant Deflopment Department
BV
Bernard Vicens
EBV Elektronik
Director Segment Light, Home & Buildings

Only accessible for registered users
This content is available only for registered users
TO: $$toName$$
SUBJECT: Message from $$fromName$$