Lamp posts that serve as both wifi hotspots and home surveillance cameras, roads free of traffic jams, rain water harvesting on an industrial scale and a smart app that plugs the city’s residents in to all it has to offer. Designing a city from a blank piece of paper presents a rare opportunity to look at how we live in and interactive with our built environment.
Bill Gates was so excited by a revolutionary mass transit innovation, he imagined cities would be designed around this new away of getting from A to B. I had visions of Jetson style hover cars or personal jetpacks – imagine my disappointment when the Skegway was launched. Fun, perhaps. Revolutionising, no. Cars are still filling our streets, and with the promise of autonomous driving just around the corner, they’re not going away any time soon.
Smart cities will still be full of vehicles of all shapes and sizes, but there are opportunities to change the emphasis on who has priority here – driver, pedestrian or cyclist. In the 1970s, Denmark decided to change their priorities, creating an infrastructure that put the cyclist first. Decades on, it’s no surprise Denmark has developed a culture of cycling.
Beyond this change of emphasis, what if there was an opportunity to make engaging with our cities more fun. Bus stops with swings, pavements with dance move footsteps painted on them. Moving from the practical requirements of keeping things moving and working, to ideas that put a smile on the face of the city dweller. The Playable Cities Award asks designers to think of ideas to make our cities more fun, with a £30,000 investment prize to help develop the ideas further.
Take a look at some of the ideas here – not entirely sure of the disco zebra crossing!