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Key Takeouts from Silkroad’s version of the Future Cities!

The future of the city is yet to be determined, but in Silkroad’s version of the future cities, they suggest a lot of ideas on how the city could be improved. The city would have improved modes of transportation and the focus would be on green energy

There are expected to be 9.8 billion people on the planet by 2050. The projected urban population of 6.7 billion people is expected to surpass 70 percent over the next 20 years. We asked Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) architects and urban planners how they would envision a city of the future, informed by past experiences and preparing for the challenges that lie ahead. Their vision is articulated on five scales, encompassing everything from the surrounding environment to the interior of a building. The 10 key principles are:

  • Ecology – Future cities will be built around natural forces and features, protecting wildlife habitats and natural resources. With a vision for the whole region, the city was designed to be compact and dense, limiting the impact on the ecosystem.
  • Water – Stormwater collection and cleansing improve water quality when upland water systems are protected. Sponge-city practices and wetlands restoration provide habitats for wildlife while also protecting against flooding.
  • Energy – Future cities will be powered by 100% renewable energy. In or near the city, there is enough power production to ensure that it is self-sufficient. Each building in an area generates and consumes the same amount of energy.
  • Livability – As more people live in urban areas, cities are designed to be accessible and safe. Nature, services, and automated technology are more readily available to residents, leading to healthier lives.
  • Waste – By using waste for energy production or alternative materials, waste becomes a valuable resource. Soil remediation results in the conversion of former industrial sites and dumps to other uses. Irrigation and human consumption are both possible with waste water.
  • Food – From the production of food to the delivery and disposal of waste, sustainable practices are mandatory. The organic farming process and the treatment of animals have global standards; the majority of produce is grown locally.
  • Mobility – Due to automated technology and high-speed rail, travel in the future city is more affordable, convenient, and safe. Pedestrian zones are more open with fewer personal automobiles.
  • Culture – Historical heritage is preserved and celebrated in densely populated and diverse future cities. Through virtual and augmented reality, people can enjoy entertainment, recreation, and arts around the globe.
  • Infrastructure – A healthier environment is made possible by efficient building construction and the use of technologies that improve natural resources such as soil, water, and air. There are few roads for cars since the infrastructure is designed for pedestrian access.
  • Economy – Neither the economy nor the policies of the future city should undermine the sustainability of the environment. Artificial intelligence and automation lead to a greater demand for flexible working hours.


The sustainable use of land, both within and outside a densely developed hub, ensures water, food, and recreation for its residents. Commute times can be reduced and emissions reduced by high-capacity transit.

Rainwater purification

To collect and filter rainwater, bioswales (absorbent rain gardens) and pools provide an alternative to gutters.

Public transportation

Train stations serve as business and social hubs in their regional areas.

Rooftop gardens

A common sight atop buildings is solar panels and roof gardens, which encourages sustainable energy and small-scale farming.

Gardening and farming in the urban environment

Advanced hydroponic technology is used in new developments and communities for urban agriculture.


In SOM’s design, a water table recharged by percolating soil occurs in all parks and infrastructure. Shanghai is already testing “sponge city” measures.


These buildings are incorporated with natural elements and largely modular, resulting in less waste and faster production. Changes in housing, business, and industrial needs can be easily accommodated by altering spaces quickly.

Sky gardens

provide shade and social areas for buildings while helping to improve the air quality.

Solar windows and walls

In the construction of the building, all surfaces of the facade were covered with solar panels to capture the sun’s energy.

Low-glow lighting

Light and air are more easily able to reach the ground in low-rise buildings, which promotes health and wellness.

Streets with greenery

There are natural landscaping features, water filtration, and environmental monitoring along the streets.


Smaller and micro-sized homes can be built with shared spaces and amenities, improving human interaction. Communities can foster social equality and a sense of belonging through community activities.

Breathing space

With fewer cars on the road and more plants indoors, air quality improves and particulate air pollution is reduced.

Intergenerational housing

The building provides a variety of unit sizes, easy access to services, as well as good transportation to allow residents of all ages to live together.

Reuse and recycling

When living in dense communities, it’s easier to reuse or recycle used items – especially those that aren’t biodegradable.

City of the future for all

Eventually, the city will be fully accessible to the disabled, with goods and services freely available to all residents.


Neighborhoods are designed so everyone can get everything they need within 10 minutes of walking. Mixed-income communities can live close to work thanks to various housing types.

Commuting with drones

Drones that are programmed from afar become powerful and large enough for urban transportation.

Flexibility in building design

In response to new economic conditions or technological advances, modular interiors can be quickly and easily switched out for another use.

The cleanest form of energy

Building rooftops can be covered with bladeless wind turbines for supplementary energy if they are lighter and cheaper.

Restoration of wetlands

In the last three decades, wetlands around the globe have decreased by one-third. In the future, all that remains will be preserved and restored.

Underground farming

is a technique of hydroponic farming, where produce is grown under high-­efficiency LED lights, directly below homes and offices.

Landscaping strategy

The gardening style of xeriscaping, which does not require irrigation, employs only local plants.


City centers of the future will consist of dense developments linked by high-speed rail. A city’s growth is governed by the regional ecology. Cities tend to move inland when sea levels rise.


Agro-sustainability is developed near urban centers to reduce transportation.

Transit based on a scale

Several high-speed rail lines and local rail lines connect the region.

Work-life integration

Connecting high-speed rail hubs to compact city centers reduces urban sprawl and provides employment opportunities.

Almost wild

Biological researcher E.O. The ecosystem and its waters are protected by 50% of Wilson’s Half-Earth Project.


SOM’s designs incorporate one idea: landscape and infrastructure complement and are shaped by nature in order to encourage rapid urban population growth.


The future of the city is yet to be determined, but in Silkroad’s version of the future cities, they suggest a lot of ideas on how the city could be improved. The city would have improved modes of transportation and the focus would be on green energy.

Silkroad has done an amazing job of forecasting the future, and with the new release of their Future Cities, it is no surprise. This blog has highlighted some of the key takeaways from their new release.

Written by IOI

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