Currently, about fifty-four percent of the world’s population lives in cities. That number is expected to rise to seventy percent by the year 2050.
One of the biggest issues that our future cities will face is the problem of space. Overcrowding is already an issue in all of the “megacities” (population over 10 million) and it is about to get much worse very quickly. Usually, the closer we live to our jobs the cheaper it is to get to them. Also, we are less likely to run into issues, which would result in being late or missing work. However, traditionally speaking, living close to the areas where we have jobs generally means that the price of living increases.
So, how do we make it so people live close to their jobs without increasing the cost of living? The most basic way is by changing how we currently layout and plan a city. Currently, all sites in a city have to be zoned so that builders and developers know what type of buildings can be built there. But what if we change that so one building was zoned so that it was capable of filling almost all of the roles needed for everyday life?
In 1999 SimCity 2000 was released, and with it, we were introduced to the Launch Arco. The Launch Arco was a mega living complex with a large bio-dome built on top. The creators of SimCity were not the first to come up with the concept of a mini city in a building, but this was the first time that I can remember seeing it visually. From a design point, the Launch Arco isn’t realistic. But the concept is what I want to focus on. Within one of these mega buildings, we would have access to just about everything that we would need so there wouldn’t be too much reason to leave. First of all, we need a place to sleep. Residential areas in these buildings probably wouldn’t be made up solely of apartments. Instead, integrated into them would also be schools (lower grades), grocery stores, clinics, small emergency response units, some small recreation sites, and some small businesses. Other amenities that are needed but that don’t have to be in the residential areas could be found on other levels. This would include higher learning (high school and beyond), a full hospital and other emergency services, a commercial and recreational center, as well as some larger commercial and industrial needs. Everything in this building could potentially be accessible by twenty-minute walks with the aid of elevators and assisted walkways (moving walkways).
One of the industrial needs that would be needed inside of each of these large buildings would be a utility hub. In most houses we have a room were our hot water heater, furnace, and air conditioner can be found. Imagine that room, but capable of maintaining the needs of a million people.
Each mega building would have it’s own water treatment facility. Not having to pipe water miles away to be treated and then miles back would save a lot of resources that would be better used elsewhere. Electricity would largely be collected and used in each building. Strategically placed solar panels and wind turbines would do a lot of the heavy lifting. Designing the building so more natural light could enter would lower lighting costs. Having wind tunnels throughout the building would assist in moving heated and cooled air, lowering the cost of heating and cooling the building.
Living in one of these buildings would require a little adjustment for most of us, but I don’t think it would be too hard. Easy access to open air parks with lots of green vegetation and community gardens would go long ways in making the living conditions better. This concept of the mega-building doesn’t have to stop there. What about universities and other higher learning? Each university could build its own mega-building to house it’s entire campus. We don’t have the technical understanding of how to construct these buildings quite yet, but having a large university that only takes up one city block and maintains all of its utilities in one building could be cheaper than sprawling over several square miles in a large city.
These mega-buildings won’t solve the problem with overcrowding, but it would be a big step in the right direction.
Would you want to live in a mega building? Let me know in the comments below.