There are innovative and flexible designs in the work to address overcrowding in cities, using folding cars, “quick-change” apartments with robotic walls, articulating facade mirrors, furniture with sensors and energy saving lighting fixtures.
Currently over half of the people in the world live in cities. Over the next 15 years, 300-400 million people are estimated to move to the cities in China alone, requiring an equivalent of the entire U.S. infrastructure to be built. It’s forecasted that “cities will account for 90% of the population growth, 80% percent of the global carbon dioxide, and 75% of energy use.”
There are now designs being developed to serve those millions that would like to live in the city and in comfort. These include small apartments that function as if they are twice as big, and little city cars optimized for shared use in cities.
Kent Larson heads the Changing Places research group at MIT Media Lab and co-directs its City Science Initiative, working on flexible and shared-use designs for housing and transportation vehicles.
He believes in “a new model for mobility, a new model for housing, a new model for how we live and work, a path to market for advanced technologies, but in the end the main thing we need to focus on are people. Cities are all about people. They’re places for people. There’s no reason why we can’t dramatically improve the livability and creativity of cities, and at the same time dramatically reducing CO2 and energy.”
You can watch Kent make an inspirational presentation discussing these designs at a TED Conference here:
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You can follow new developments at the Changing Places blog: http://cp.media.mit.edu/blog.