Many people regard a city as a big community of people separated from other communities, and it is defined as such only because of border separation. This should not hold true anymore, given our current state of technology and present-day scientific knowledge.
A city should be defined not by its borders, but by its total enclosure, self-sustainable properties. Consider that when we think about a cruise liner, we see it as a total enclosure system. The cruise liner has its own food supply, medical staff, runs on its own energy, and basically provides all of the goods and services that the occupants’ need throughout the time of the journey.
Cities should be no different from this perspective. A city should be regarded as a total enclosure system, with its own production of energy, goods, and services, wherever possible. A cruise liner needs to have all the necessary resources and energy to operate for the duration of the journey, independent of offshore supplies, or else it will fail as a system. To minimize material and energy waste, a city should not depend primarily on imports and/or exports to maintain its sustainability, although we’re not excluding those options completely.
Another important aspect about a cruise liner is that instead of a kitchen in every room, it makes intelligent use of a common dining area. This saves a lot of resources and provides a more efficient, enjoyable, and varied option for people. Thus, a city is not only about what it can produce and how, but is also about a shift in how people think about their social life.
A car, a fridge, a microwave, a lawnmower, and much, much more, for everyone, is not an intelligent way forward. Access to free and ever-present services that produce the same or better outcome is what we need. Instead of having a car, why not build a very efficient transportation system inside the city (including self-driving cars), that will make owning a car obsolete?
Food and goods production can be localized with vertical farms or 3D printing, while the automating of all of their processes enhances efficiency. As an example, printing houses can ‘inject’ more complexity, while using less resources, due to its layer-by-layer process for adding materials. In some circumstances, using extrusion technology to produce an entire apartment or house may be even more efficient.
Extracting water from the atmosphere is no longer a science fiction idea, which illustrates that when human ingenuity is put to work, issues like water scarcity are not a problem for long.
The designs of buildings or their interiors should reflect not an artist’s point of view, but an engineer’s educated creativity, to take advantage of the environment and human anatomy. A chair can be made fancy to reflect a false social status, or designed by a doctor to improve your physical health. A house can be designed to deflect heat, or to use space more efficiently. This is science over art.
Automation and efficiency of accessibility that can create an abundance of goods and services, coupled with proper education, could transform a city into a place where the workload on people will be diminished or dissolved, allowing every human to explore, relax, enjoy, further educate or engage in scientific research. Where there is abundance, money or any kind of barter makes no sense at all. Perhaps the cities of the future are more about a new way of thinking rather than new technologies. Not owning, but using – not buying, but accessing.
All cities across Earth should not be like skin melanoma that endangers one’s health, but rather like freckles that pose no harm to the human body – leading to cities that pose ‘no harm to the planet’. If a cruise liner spills oil in the ocean, it endangers not only the cruise liner occupants lives, but the marine life as well, because Earth’s systems are interconnected.
Cities should be our ‘cruise liners’: self sustainable, smart and interconnected, and in good relation with the environment. What a journey that would be…