After a look at the developments militari, teaching, uh ... intimate e whatever else, let's change gear a bit. Let's try to focus on how the changes of these first 20 years of the century will affect the homes of the future, and the way we will live and inhabit. Under the banner of a concept: arcology.
As with other sectors, there are two factors (real experts say “drivers”) that will guide the century. The first it is the (possible) very fast acceleration of technology. The second one is the environmental impact of climate change.
Factors that will "pull" the world in two directions that now appear opposite.
On both sides
On the climatic level there is so much, and already in progress. The raising of the sea level. The hottest summers with multiple fires, increased floods, drought. Pandemics, desertification and the reduction of fresh water stocks. All elements that will probably lead to new humanitarian crises and higher mortality.
On the technological level, on the other hand, a lot of progress. The boom of renewable energy, the power of nuclear fusion. The growth of materials science, blockchain,AI, additive manufacturing (3D printing and bio printing), space exploration for commercial purposes. Elements destined to bring energy abundance, health and new resources.
It will be a century of perennial battle between these two forces. Technological singularity and climate change are at war for control of the future. The challenge? Take advantage of one to face the others.
- Growth of urban centers;
- Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence;
- Decentralization of everything;
- Sustainable cities;
- Rising seas and sinking coasts.
The growth of urban centers
The global population will experience a kind of "whiplash": it will grow considerably by 2050, then it will tend to slow down. According to the report "World Population Prospects 2019Compiled by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, entered the mid-century records will mark About 9,74 billion people.
And where will they live?
Another report from 2020 of the International Institute for Environment and Development estimates that by 2050 about 68% of the population will live in urban centers. That means 6,6 billion people. That is more than 2 billion more people than today. Almost all of the world's population growth between now and 2050 could be in cities.
It would mean greater demand for housing, electricity, water, food, basic services, education, transportation and medical services. The infrastructures and resources needed to meet this demand will increase the stress of the surrounding environments, which are already highly stressed.
The positive side
is that more people means more needs, but also more production. And if there is one thing cities are effective at, it is to promote innovation, the creation of new industries and cultural exchanges. All this by bringing people together, even in spite of Covid.
In summary, cities in 2050 will always be built (or rebuilt) to meet the needs of citizens. With one fundamental difference: sustainability. Cities will have to do more with less, and eliminate waste as much as possible.
La Smart Life
The idea of “smart” homes of the future has only taken off in recent years. The concept of “smartphone” and other similar devices also derives from the concept of Smart home. In the case of homes of the future, a person will have access to everything they have in the house (appliances, devices, etc.) via Bluetooth and the Internet.
IOT, the three letters that stand for "Internet of Things"(IoT) will become a reality. The digital world and the real world are intertwined like never before: a passage guided by an infinite amount of devices, sensors and geotags that will connect points in the real world to the Internet.
The experience of reality
It will increasingly be mediated through the augmented reality virtual reality (AR / VR) and of course AI. By mid-century, people will be used to being able to have almost everything at home, at any time. Door-to-door delivery services are likely to become increasingly automated and involve smart cars, autonomous ships, aerial drones.
You already know about working from home.
Home offices with high-speed Internet will become the norm, meetings will be virtual, traveling for business or conferences will be far less important.
Education could also be decentralized
There could be schools within large building or residential complexes, and “condominium” kindergartens. Children will have real classrooms and virtual classrooms at their disposal, for personalized and immersive educational paths. To guide them teachers in flesh and blood and artificial intelligence, with the new VR devices that will also give greater tactile sensations and physical participation.
Domestic robots will be the right years.
By 2050 there will be their affirmation on the market: they could be mobile units, or "big appliances" that come integrated directly into a room. They will take care of various tasks, from normal cleaning to food preparation.
In summary, the houses of the future will be truly "smart". Domestic AI agents will be a common feature. They will manage all the devices and robots in the house, they will monitor our activities to improve our health, our daily routine and maybe our savings.
Another interesting change is the way energy, money, goods and services will be distributed over the next few years. Even politics and administration. While the industrial revolution has led to greater centralization of work and the economy, the world of tomorrow could be almost entirely decentralized.
In terms of governance
The proliferation of wireless Internet, Satellite Internet and blockchain will also mean that people can connect anywhere and anytime. Consequently, in addition to smartworking, we could also see “Smartpolitics”, which would have a mixed form between assembly and webinar. Much like business that will reduce face-to-face meetings, local politics could also be affected by ubiquity.
On the energy level
The increased dependence on renewable energy will affect the global economy. As most of the electricity demand will still come from urban centers, the shift will be visible in terms of how and where energy is generated.
Today, the electricity grid consists of:
- power plants located away from densely populated areas;
- electric transmitters to carry power over long distances;
- electrical substations that transform voltage to distribute it;
- distribution transformers for individual homes and buildings.
The term "grid" is appropriate because electricity is generated in a central location, then routed through a grid network where it is needed. Conversely, cities could have distributed power plants by 2050 which run on solar, wind, piezoelectric, geothermal, biomass and other sources of "green" energy. Maybe also the gravitational one.
These localized centers will provide energy for a specific area. Large buildings are also likely to provide themselves with their own solar panels, turbines and generators. However, the power grids will not disappear. The possible development of nuclear fusion reactors it will still require distribution centers and nodes.
In summary: the relocation will allow greater fluidity. Without prejudice to the concentration in megacities, even the urban fabric will inevitably be more extensive. They will be huge cities, but without a single "city center". Energy, administration, governance can take place in hybrid and liquid ways. How? We need arcology.
Green and "arcological" megacities
Also by virtue of their expansion, cities will have to have more spaces, where architecture and ecology come together to offer a healthier life. The concept, known as "arcology" (if you are interested in the definition it's here) was coined in 1969 by the Italian architect Paolo soleri, who proposed it as a means to address urban expansion and the consequent destruction of green spaces.
In "arcological" projects, agriculture and green spaces coexist alongside residential and commercial centers and the space is exploited in a more creative way. Today, there are many design, design and architecture firms specializing in creating arcology-inspired urban spaces.
Common features could include urban gardens, vertical farms and hydroponics, farms of insects (yes, sooner or later they will be able to spread them) e aquaponics (where plants and fish live in symbiosis).
And the water?
To prevent stress on the existing water supply, new systems will flourish. Most of what you need for irrigation will come from catching rainwater, from gray water recycling and water recovery units. By 2050, many homes will also have one 3D printer for food dedicated to producing nutritious meals tailored to specific tastes and dietary requirements.
And the air?
Another recent innovation is carbon capture. Urban planners are incorporating it into modern urban development plans to combat climate change and urban pollution. Future cities could also combine natural trees with artificial systems to absorb pollution.
CO2 removed from the air can be converted into biofuels. Buildings equipped with a carbon capture system will therefore be able to create biofuels, perhaps as a back-up energy source, but also as a local supply of fuel for vehicles that still run on biodiesel.
In summary: A series of renewable energy sources will run the arcology. Large and small buildings could provide the energy needed to house its cultivation plant, its power plant and its filling station, providing the basic necessities of life locally.
Bonus track: some (more or less) arcology projects that could see the light by 2050
This arcology was proposed by N, world famous architect. True to its name, Crystal Island it would be a sort of "vertical city" similar to a crystal spire. The entire structure would be wrapped in a breathable "second skin", sealed in winter to prevent heat loss and open in summer to cool the interior.
The planned arcology was to be integrated into the Nagatinskaya Poyma park in central Moscow. With its 450 m height and 2,5 million m² of surface, it would have been the largest structure on the planet. In 2009, shortly before the construction began, construction was postponed to 2013 due to the global economic crisis: then another postponement, and has remained in limbo ever since.
Always designed by Foster and Partners, Masdar city is a project for the city of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The city will be a hub for clean energy companies as well as the headquarters of the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Masdar has the ambition to become totally carbon neutral. It is meant to be powered by a combination of solar and wind energy. All lighting and water are controlled by motion sensors to reduce consumption. Much of the city's water is rainwater or captured by condensers, and up to 80% of the wastewater will be recycled and reused as many times as possible.
As of 2016, the city's official website reports 2000 residents (and 300 students). However, the expansion is expected to continue until it reaches the planned capacity of 50.000 residents, 1.500 companies and 60.000 workers. We'll see.
From seaside cities to seaside cities, always in the name of arcology
In an age of climate change, many designers plan with sea level rise in mind. The loss of the coasts is unfortunately expected, and with this circumstance in mind new arcological concepts flourish. There are many. Here are some arcology looking for a future:
Also known as the BOA, this sustainable megastructure concept in Boston Harbor was conceived by Kevin Schopfer. With its rectangle shape with cross structures within it, this city would house 15.000 people and would include hotels, offices, retail spaces, museums and a city hall.
Consistent with LEED standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), would draw its power from a combination of solar, wind and other renewables, and would serve as an expansion of the city without increasing the environmental impact.
the 2010 Haiti earthquake caused 250.000 deaths, 300.000 injuries and about 1,5 million homeless. To hypothesize a response to the event, Schopfer (in collaboration with Tangram 3DS ) conceived Harvest City, a floating complex consisting of floating modules (3,2 km in diameter) off the coast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
The city would be able to accommodate 30.000 residents within four communities (2/3 dedicated to agriculture, 1/3 to light industry) all interconnected by a system of linear channels. The entire city would float and be anchored to the ocean floor, greatly reducing its vulnerability to earthquakes.
Also known as Lilypad, this floating city concept was proposed by Vincent Callebaut. In essence, Callebaut predicted that rising sea levels and the disappearance of coasts would give rise to a new phenomenon known as "climate refugees". As also feared by a recent UN reportAs coastal cities lose ground to the seas, some of the inhabitants will have to be relocated to new structures.
Hence the Lilypad concept, a completely self-sufficient floating city that could accommodate up to 50.000 people. Energy would be delivered through a combination of solar, wind, tide and biomass, while the entire structure would absorb CO2 from the atmosphere through an outer titanium dioxide “skin”.
New Orleans Arcology Habitat
Located off the coast of New Orleans, where the Mississippi River flows into the Gulf of Mexico, the NOAH concept was another project proposed by Kevin Schopfer (the same architect who designed BOA). The design was largely inspired by Hurricane Katrina and the realization that recurring storms in the region will become increasingly severe.
This triangular city would be able to house up to 50.000 New Orleans residents within its 20.000 residential units, each of 100 m². To keep the tourism industry alive, it would also have up to three hotels (200 rooms each), 1500 timeshares and three casinos.
As the 21st century unfolds, the world will be forced to undergo two great opposite phenomena. Technological development will continue to accelerate, with great implications for the way we live, work, play and even eat. Climate change, on the other hand, will cause damage to the natural systems on which humans depend for their survival.
If it is true that necessity sharpens ingenuity, it will be a century of great inventions.