with taking these cities from grand vision to on-the-ground reality must be able to adapt to change.
Such long-range initiatives demand flexible plans.
Cutting-edge technology is standard in these new
cities, but what’s forward-thinking today won’t be
down the road. Project managers need to determine
how the technologies they’re implementing now
can be updated when the time comes.
“That’s one of the elements that can be quite
problematic—when you build a whole new town out
of scratch and you just build it for a particular era
or time, it doesn’t necessarily modify itself very well
to changing circumstances,” Dr. Ben-Joseph says.
“You might have a place that looks great now, but
the question is how will it look 10 years down the
line. And as technology and elements that deal with
sustainability and infrastructure change, how will
you adapt?” That means creating flexible, adaptable
systems that allow for disruptive innovation, he adds.
Project plans also must consider the city’s future
growth—and determine how to direct it. “City
Location is crucial, but it isn’t enough. To attract
and retain more and more people and businesses,
tomorrow’s cities must be better than yesterday’s—
more advanced with regards to sustainability and
technology. In the cities of Gujarat, India and Songdo,
that means an underground network of vacuum-
powered tubes that shuttle garbage from homes to a
central processing facility. In Masdar City, it means
designing a city layout that creates cooling breezes.
These cities also will sustain burgeoning populations with reliable public transportation that
replaces the need—and desire—for private transport. “You have to put your money in good public
transit,” says Carolina Barco, senior adviser, Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, D.C., USA.
“You want to make taking public transit attractive
because you want people to want to take it and not
be forced to take it. Otherwise, they’ll start looking
for alternatives, like cars and motorcycles.”
Project sponsors can’t agree to every sustainable initiative that promises to ease the problems
of overcrowding, however. In Masdar City, original
plans called for small, two-person vehicles that operated on a system separate from mass transit. After
research into the development and implementation
of the vehicles revealed they would be far pricier than
anticipated, the plans were dropped.
“Planners and city officials have to be open to
learning during the process and be willing to shift
course,” Dr. Fitzgerald says.
FROM VISION TO REALI TY
Like project sponsors, the project managers tasked
tasked with taking
these cities from
grand vision to
reality must be able
to adapt to change.
Views of Songdo, South
Korea, above, and Masdar City
in the United Arab Emirates