While there can only be one winner, there can be various solutions to a single problem. Innovation came in many forms in The Next Big Thing competition and that deserves to be rewarded.
Water, water everywhere and nowhere left to live. So what’s the solution? Land takes up under 30% of the world’s surface – a realisation that hit Neil Worrall while he was helping his nine year old son with his geography homework earlier this year. A realisation that formed the basis for his entry into Estates Gazette’s The Next Big Thing competition. “I am an accountant,” says the JLL director. “I was looking at the globe and it struck me that 100% of the world’s population lives on just 29% of the space available. That doesn’t sound right, does it? When you take a step back, the answer to that problem suddenly seems quite clear.”
Introducing Aquacities – Worrall’s plan to address the real danger of rapidly growing populations and overcrowding in cities around the world. It all starts by heading offshore, by at least 12 nautical miles to be exact – and that’s not just for the hell of it. It is all part of Worrall’s grand plan for a series of carbon positive, earthquake and tsunami–proof cities to be built in oceans around the world. By being so far from the nearest coast they would be in international waters and so beyond the realms of any existing state jurisdiction. The plan instead would be to introduce a new UN global governance structure to ensure each of the new cities have an equal chance of flourishing.
A 1,000-acre food supply for London from Laurie Chetwood, Chetwoods. The vulnerability of London’s food chain was the starting point for architect Laurie Chetwood’s vision to ease the burden of a booming population. The increasing use of ‘just in time’ delivery means that London only has three to four days of food available at any time and that if distribution networks seize up, the capital could be just nine days away from anarchy.
Chetwood’s solution envisages a green London. One where the lifeblood of the city, the River Thames, is put back to use and transformed into a 1,000-acre linear farm constructed on the north side of the river stretching from Hammersmith in the west to the Thames Barrier in the east. Paddy fields, terraces, and green roofs and walls will provide ample space to grow enough produce to feed the growing population. The river will be used for both the supply and transportation of food, with existing infrastructure put to use, connecting road and rail on land with delivery via water and air. A new network of logistics parks will be constructed beneath the linear farm, replacing unsustainable, out-of-town distribution networks and releasing space on the traditional high street for residential development.
The above and below land solution for urban living/working by Greg Lacey, an acquisitions and development surveyor at Asda, took his solution for the growing population problem from a 1990s computer game and the original vision of garden city creator Ebenezer Howard. He wants to solve the problem of a diminishing lack of landmass by creating new centres of employment, leisure and education underground, turning cities on their heads and building subterranean skyscrapers.
A similar proposal is already in design stages with architect Esteban Suarez seeking to build the world’s first “earthscraper” in Mexico City. However, Lacey believes that the earthscraper could be connected to sky living, to provide a more pleasant solution. While it could not be built on top of directly, to allow light to filter down, a Sky Garden City could be built above. Lacey’s proposal will enable work, shopping and leisure activities to take place below ground while providing a bright standard of living in the sky, with a glass lift to connect the two. Is Yin & Yang a possible solution?
Creating homes and future-proofing infrastructure – a proposal from nbbj Infrastructure is at a watershed moment and holds the key to dealing with the density problems facing our cities. Architects at nbbj believe urban design of the future will be influenced by technology and that the digital age is diminishing our need for roads – cars will run 24 hours a day and never park.
In London, some 1.5m new homes will be needed by 2050. At current housebuilding rates this is impossible, but nbbj’s proposal offers a solution by using a street network of more than 6,000 miles to provide 1.8m new homes for Londoners. The Streets envisages homes being built across and down streets as the need for roads dwindles. Homes of 4m widths with integrated shops and work space will be added as roads become consolidated. And while its solution may look as though housing is piled into a cramped space, research shows that the best streets are those that are the tightest. What are your views on The Streets?