Urban Designing?

Architecture embodies the phrase, “Jack of all trades, masters of none, better still than to be the master of one”, as it goes from designing minuscule details on a piece of furniture to planning out the transport network of a city, the range varies quite drastically. Urban design is one of the many trades that architects juggle and can provide impactful contributions in. It deals with designing the physical features of a city, town, village, etc, how the public spaces would be connected with the road network, how neighborhoods would be divided and spread across the city, how the zoning for commercial and institutional projects take place. Urban design is a collaborative and multi-disciplinary approach in shaping the life of a city. With the rapid advancement in technology, our cities would also need to be updated to keep up with the trends of the day. 

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How is technology in architecture used in Urban Designing? - Sheet1
Building tomorrow’s cities_©Shutterstock/ by elenabsl, https://www.archdaily.com/936781/smart-cities-paving-the-way-to-a-smart-future/5e84ebb9b3576551a7000336-smart-cities-paving-the-way-to-a-smart-future-photo

Sustainability

Necessity is the mother of Invention, today more than ever with climate change, it is necessary to invent, innovate and evolve towards a model for our cities that is sustainable to ensure any future, unless it’s some 300 million kilometers away on Mars. The United Nations predicts that by 2050, almost two-thirds of the world’s population would be living in cities that aren’t prepared as of now for this surge. Cities are a hub of data, which can be processed into useful information. Internet of Things (IoT) for cities has so far proven effective in collecting, analyzing, and channeling various data available like temperate, humidity, traffic congestion, etc. such that it helps in reducing energy consumption.

How is technology in architecture used in Urban Designing? - Sheet2
Smart and Sustainable Cities_ ©Unspash, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/cities-sustainability-innovation-global-goals/

For instance, Copenhagen with smart street lighting systems has achieved a reduction of about 65% in its energy consumption, which furthers its aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Apps like Environmental Impact Calculator help in determining in real-time the mode and amount of calories that will be burned in going from one destination to another, which can help designers in creating more pedestrian, bicycle-friendly routes thus reducing dependency on fossil fuels. UK-based firm Pavegen has installed smart tiles in the East London neighborhood of West Ham which converts the kinetic energy of the pedestrian footsteps to electricity. These are just a few ways in which technology has helped in reducing the carbon footprint and moving towards a more safe, secure sustainable future.  

How is technology in architecture used in Urban Designing? - Sheet3
Smart Tiles in West Ham, London_ ©Pavegen, https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/apr/16/ten-quirky-ideas-for-making-our-cities-more-sustainable

Connectivity and Transportation

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The perception and usage of public transportation can be revolutionized with the help of appropriate upcoming technology. Smart sensors, CCTV surveillance, and artificial intelligence can help in controlling traffic congestion which leads to a reduction in air and noise pollution, smart streets which sense public footprint can adjust lighting conditions according to the number of users and help in saving energy. The fantasy of the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter is not so farfetched anymore as Big Data collected from users via GPS can help in locating accurately traffic blockage on any street during rush hours, it can also help in creating green corridors in times of emergency and provide quick access to medical facilities. With upcoming electronic cars, according to the congestion on roads, speed limits could be altered to reduce the gridlock of vehicles by officials. Urban designers with these tools can design smart streetscapes which cater to its particular users that go far beyond the notion of conventional design and are not just limited to the layout, width, etc of roads but become an organic living entity that continuously feeds on information available and modify accordingly to accommodate it.

How is technology in architecture used in Urban Designing? - Sheet4
Electric Car_©tomorrow.city, https://tomorrow.city/a/technology-for-smart-cities-the-pillars-of-urban-planning-of-the-future

Smart Cities

The association of the word “smart” with cities and what it symbolizes is still up for debate and discussion. The integration of technology and tools like Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, stimuli sensitive environments to modernize cities are paving the way for the future. However, wind from developed countries carrying out these smart city projects brings caution of how cities in their core are for people and should not be so data-driven and tech-centric that they stampede over their residents to achieve a goal for a population that may not survive in them. 

Along a typically wide (and empty) Songdo street, rows of apartment buildings wait for their residents to arrive_©Linda Poon/CityLab, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-22/songdo-south-korea-s-smartest-city-is-lonely

Songdo in South Korea presents an interesting example, envisioned as a utopian, state-of-art city equipped with all modern facilities it was destined to become an epitome in infrastructure. Built on land reclaimed from the Yellow Sea, Songdo is a business district that was conceptualized to become a new economic center with zero pollution, no overcrowding, no cars, efficient waste management, etc., offering a solution to all modern urban problems. With streets lined with sensors to control and manage traffic, energy consumption, etc. to garbage chutes that transfer trash directly to underground waste management facility that converts it into electricity, the city took leaps with technology but failed to instill a sense of community amongst its users. People felt alienated on the wide-open avenues, trapped in an orthogonal concrete jungle, a warning for urban designers around the world to be sensitive in their approach to future cities.

References:

  1. https://tomorrow.city/a/technology-for-smart-cities-the-pillars-of-urban-planning-of-the-future
  2. https://www.planetizen.com/node/72901
  3. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/cities-sustainability-innovation-global-goals/
  4. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06-22/songdo-south-korea-s-smartest-city-is-lonely
  5. https://constructible.trimble.com/construction-industry/how-iot-can-help-make-cities-more-sustainable
Author

Kriti Khandelwal is an inquisitive bibliophile who is currently a fourth year student pursuing her Bachelor's in Architecture from Nirma University, Ahmedabad.She has an ardent interest in art, exploring new places and is always in pursuit of stories of different people and cultures brewing around her.

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