Cities will become networks of intelligent green spaces, claims consultant

Arup unveils vision of cities of the future

A new report by design and engineering consultancy Arup envisages the cities of the future as integrated networks of intelligent green spaces, designed to improve the health and wellbeing of citizens.

The report, ‘Cities Alive’, undertaken by Arup’s Foresight + Research + Innovation and Landscape Architecture teams, argues that greener public spaces and urban forests, combined with virtual reality, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographical Information Science (GIS), will shape future city design.

It also highlights the importance of integrating stronger public transport infrastructure for cycling and walking into city design to create healthier urban populations.

Innovations could include the use of virtual reality such as Google Glass to allow the virtual enjoyment of real events in real spaces such as parks.

Smart systems and data sharing could allowing lighting, heating and cooling to respond to people’s presence.

This should happen alongside the introduction of more trees and green spaces, the report argues. Their advantages would include:
• Providing shade and reducing city temperatures, protecting citizens from UV radiation while reducing the need for air conditioning in buildings through localised cooling and shading
• Reducing pollutants from the air, helping to save lives and reduce hospital visits and the number of days taken off work
• Enhancing traffic calming measures; tall or closely spaced trees give the perception of making streets feel narrower thus slowing drivers down. Wide, treeless streets give the perception of being free of hazards and encourage faster and more dangerous driving

Tom Armour, leader of the landscape architecture group at Arup, said: ‘We should be developing cities to promote biodiversity rather than hamper it, as part of a drive for higher quality external design to create better places for urban citizens to live, work and relax, where people can lead healthier and happier lives. As space in cities becomes more precious, planning for green needs to be considered as a fundamental consideration and not as an optional add-on or a nod towards biodiversity.’

Armour will be speaking at the next Landscape Futures debate, to be held in London on 8 April, on the subject  ‘What does the future of landscape architecture look like?’. Click here to learn more and book your place.

Read the Cities Alive report.

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