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Futuristic cities vs smart cities




ancient civilization and urbanism
ancient civilization and urbanism

Urbanism is phenomenal, with a significant impact on human civilisation and the longevity of societies, increasingly requiring vision, meticulous preparation and the efficient use of resources. A well-planned urbanism reinvigorates entrepreneurial activities, fosters economic growth and enhances people's quality of life. However, developers and local authorities must strive to reconcile the current demands with those of future generations.

The cause of the fall and demise of ancient civilisations is a confluence of challenges and factors. The Mayan civilisation, for example, may have faced collapse due to deforestation and soil erosion, leading to food shortages and societal unrest. Easter Island famously deforested itself to the point of unsustainability, contributing to societal decline. Additionally, the bubonic plague that struck the Byzantine Empire in the 6th-century pandemic ravaged and ravaged Europe in the mid-14th century all indicate that the environment plays a crucial role in the history of human civilisation.

Early societies lacked the tools, experience and science to withstand environmental challenges and mitigate the consequences of natural disasters and conflicts. Today, despite technological advancement and better living standards, natural disasters and conflicts are becoming more common, widespread and severe. The evidence is the surge in displacement, intra-state wars, supply chain disruption, and social unrest, intensified by human population growth, dominance and rivalry.

In this context, we must carefully consider the role of urbanism in building resilience to manage resources and protect citizens and interests. While urbanisation offers many benefits, it can also lead to issues. For instance, concentrated populations can exacerbate environmental problems and become a source of vulnerability, implying that a one-size-fits-all approach to urbanism might not be the answer.

The lessons of the past are clear: human civilisation depends on building adaptable and resourceful societies. Thus, implemented thoughtfully and sustainably, futuristic urbanism will offer a powerful tool to ensure survival and prosperity.

Population Concentration

From Fields to Skyscrapers: The History of Modern Urbanism 

Urban planners play a pivotal role in creating successful societies and shaping the trajectory of human civilisation. However, Modern urbanism and urnanisation weren't driven by a single individual or factor but rather by a confluence of thinkers, inventors, environmental changes and social movements.

The rise of factories in the 18th and 19th centuries created a massive demand for labour. People flocked to cities for jobs, leading to rapid urban growth. Moreover, developments like railroads and steamships made it easier and cheaper to move goods and people, further accelerating urbanisation. Additionally, improvements in sanitation and medicine in the 19th century reduced mortality rates and led to population growth that cities absorbed.

Furthermore, reformers like Octavia Hill (1838-1912) in the UK and Jane Addams (1860-1935) in the US advocated for improved living conditions in crowded urban areas, shaping policies like zoning and sanitation infrastructure. Simultaneously, visionaries like Sir Ebenezer Howard (1850-1928)- (Garden Cities movement) and Le Corbusier (1877-1965)- (Modernist architecture) laid the groundwork for the design and planning of modern cities.

Sir Ebenezer Howard, for instance, envisioned a utopian city where residents coexisted harmoniously with nature. He pioneered the garden city movement, inspiring numerous housing developments during the First World War in the UK and Europe. Similarly, a prominent Spanish town planner, Arturo Soria y Mata (1844-1920), introduced the concept of a linear city to organise urbanisation. His vision entailed a calculated expansion, facilitating rational connectivity. Soria's plans featured a long central boulevard adorned by surrounding woodlands. Other urban planners and architects of the era, such as Mikhail Okhitovich, also prioritised convenience, aesthetics, mobility, and disurbanism.

smart cities vs futuristic cities

Smart Cities and Futuristic Urbanism

Today's main driving forces behind smart cities are international institutions and government objectives, while advancing technologies underpin the rise of smart cities. Nonetheless, resource scarcity, population growth, environmental changes, conflicts, and unbalanced development plans across the world highlight the need for holistic approaches.

Currently, the public immediate demand for change and uncontrolled social movements, alongside overlooking critical issues and hasty conclusions, are causing more vulnerability and resource exhaustion in addition to natural disasters, environmental issues and conflicts over influence, resources, territories, and economic corridors. Therefore, it is crucial to increase public awareness and recognise the role of technology in shaping public opinion. It is also vital to find better alternatives and prioritise long-term vision and security over trendy projects inspired by Hollywood-themed products, wealthy individuals, corporations, and influential entities.

Today, futuristic entities and nations must distinguish between smart cities and futuristic urbanism, which leads to finding better solutions. They envision goal-oriented societies for collective action and optimising resource utilisation.

Natural Disasters

Numerous cities sit on tectonic plates or are built on coastlines and flood plains, making them more vulnerable to natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and floods. A highly concentrated population in such areas can magnify the impact of these events.

Culture clash

Competition for resources, identity and differing ideologies and cultures can heighten tensions within densely populated areas, potentially leading to social unrest or even war.

Resource Strain

While concentrated populations might allow for a more efficient distribution of resources, maintaining the flow of resources and security remains challenging, notably during catasrophic events and conflicts.

Disease Outbreak

The 1918–1920 flu pandemic, also known as the Spanish flu and the COVID-19 pandemic, are stark reminders of how quickly illnesses can spread in urban environments.

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