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The Future of Urban Infrastructure: Sustainable Smart Cities

Blog post   •   Feb 27, 2015 12:00 +08

As digital technologies get more and more integrated into our way of life, these smart cities offer a glimpse into the future of sustainable living.

Vincent Callebaut of Callebaut Architects has devised smart towers that could be the future of glitzy city of Paris. The proposal, titled 2050 paris smart city, showcases eight different green tower typologies that integrate elements of nature and renewable energy - part of a research and development project that examines the role of high-rise architecture in Paris.

The project, in collaboration with Setec Batimet engineers, was carried out for Paris City Hall as part of an initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent by 2050.

Remarkably, many of these planned futuristic high rises will grow out of existing buildings by using columns installed in chimney ducts to vertically support the new structures. Other plans make use of disused railway lines or repurpose existing structures. All eight typologies have the same goal: to make Paris a model green city. Aside from foliage, the smart buildings will use a number of other green technologies including:

  • Solar voltaic panels
  • Solar heating systems
  • Hydro-electric power
  • Water re-purification and recycling systems

Wind turbines and flexible photovoltaic textiles will also be used to produce energy and vertical gardens will both purify the air as well as provide space for the farming of vegetables hydroponically.

Smart green cities of today

SmartCity Kochi, located in the Kerala Special Economic Zone in India, is the latest in a series of business townships built by the SmartCity Group. An earlier development in Malta was awarded a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certificate by the US Green Building Council. Due for completion by March 2015, SmartCity Kochi's first building will be a LEED Platinum building with 85 per cent energy efficiency.

Some of the steps the developers took in order to achieve this rating include:

  • Preservation of the natural terrain and flora
  • Solar outdoor lighting
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Environmentally responsive building

The building envelope includes double-glazed windows to minimise heat transfer. Inside, natural ventilation systems and passive cooling minimise the need for air conditioning.

Perhaps the most ambitious smart city development is the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (Fujisawa SST) located on the outskirts of Tokyo in Japan, aimed at bringing energy to life. Working together with Fujisawa City and 11 partner companies including Panasonic Corporation as the lead organiser, plans were unveiled to create Fujisawa SST in 2011. The city went into full-scale operation in November 2014.

Fujisawa SST architects and engineers based their design on three 'lifestyle layers.' The bottom layer is the infrastructure, which houses the town's energy and information centres. The middle layer is the design of smart living spaces. The top 'smart lifestyle' layer focuses on the health, transportation, security, social and recreation needs of the residents.

Fujisawa SST covers approximately 19 hectares and has the capacity to service 1000 households with solar power and other sustainable technologies including energy storage and energy saving. Residents and visitors are encouraged to adopt mobile lifestyles through eco car sharing and rent-a-car services. As a town that promotes eco and smart lifestyles, several environmental targets were set. 02_thefutureofurbaninfrastructure.JPGFujisawa Sustainable Smart Town Targets

Although Fujisawa SST will not be fully completed until 2018, the town's initial success suggests it will become a model for smart towns in Japan and around the world.

With more developers and governments taking steps to plan and develop greener living options, we can look forward to alternative, sustainable living in the future.