Is digital trust the key to sustainable planning? wondered Nicole Bennetts, Senior Urban and Regional Planner in an ARUP blog. The answer follows.
Is digital trust the key to sustainable planning?
Our growth challenges in cities globally are becoming more complex. Now more than ever, we need new solutions and creativity to help us shape more resilient and sustainable cities in the future.
For the first time in history, we have access to dynamic urban data to understand people’s collective behaviours in real time. If used, this expansive evidence base can help planners, designers, and decision-makers make more informed decisions about the future of our cities.
However, the timing dilemma is an obstacle in harnessing this data. While urban environments typically develop every 50 years, technology moves more rapidly, significantly improving every five years, creating a disparity between urban planning and urban living.
So how does the planning industry keep pace with digital technology to create sustainable outcomes? One way is to improve our relationship with the digital world and put trust and confidence in digital tools and innovative solutions.
While urban environments typically develop every 50 years, technology moves more rapidly, significantly improving every five years, creating a disparity between urban planning and urban living.
While urban environments typically develop every 50 years, technology moves more rapidly, significantly improving every five years, creating a disparity between urban planning and urban living.
Why should planners trust data and digital?
Our cities are where urban planning and living come together. They are a super ‘neural network’ of interrelated systems. To create intelligent, responsive cities, urban development must embrace new possibilities using data and the internet of things (IoT).
Technology and data have never been more available. As a result, urban planning has a massive opportunity to unleash its full potential by investing more time and resources into harnessing data and digital planning.
Tools like the ‘digital twin’ are likely to become an indispensable part of future ‘urban infrastructure’, enabling the seamless integration of the ‘physical’ and ‘digital’ worlds and redefining how we plan.
Similarly, digital master planning is a framework to test thousands of options based on various variables and parameters to test failure, resilience, adaptative pathways, optimal living conditions, human health and welling, energy efficiency and more.
The planning industry must adapt to this changing paradigm, by matching the efforts and confidence invested in building the cloud system and IoT coverage, or risk being left behind.
To create intelligent, responsive cities, urban development must embrace new possibilities using data and the internet of things (IoT).
How Arup planners are using the power of digital
Projects worldwide show the value and credibility of digital tools to create growth and provide sustainable outcomes.
Cities urban tree canopy is a critical component of green infrastructure providing comfortable environments and reducing heat. Arup’s leading Urban tree canopy analysis used is a study for the City of Gold Coast, which uses a computer algorithm to determine the percentage of vegetation cover over different time intervals to show canopy changes.
Terrain is Arup’s bespoke artificial intelligence and land use analysis tool. It harnesses the power of data analytics, machine learning and automation to accurately digest large quantities of data and satellite imagery. Using this tool, we calculated seven cities’ sponginess by measuring the green and blue infrastructure areas to understand how cities can better use this infrastructure to face increasing threats from climate change – including heavy rainfall and extreme heat events.
Another Arup tool is the City Algorithm Tool (CAT) which tests hundreds of growth scenarios using different development and community value parameters to determine optimal outcomes for urban living. For example, Smakkelaarsveld in the Netherlands used algorithms to optimise the scheme design against multiple KPIs, including sustainability and environmental objectives.
Similarly, digital master planning can test site and precinct options based on various variables and parameters to test failure, resilience, adaptative pathways and optimal living conditions.
The last example, solar analysis helps test hundreds of layouts and orientations to achieve optimal living conditions and thermal comfort. For example, for Mahindra World City Jaipur, we used solar assessment tools to determine the optimal orientation for the plots and streets to provide thermal comfort in a hot climate.
Small risks, great rewards
Trust in the planning process is the foundation for our cities to take the best path to sustainable growth. Taking small, calculated risks in improving our digital capabilities now can lead to great rewards for our cities.
Taking small, calculated risks in improving our digital capabilities now can lead to great rewards for our cities.
Speed and efficiency, automating tedious and repetitive tasks and allowing more design and collaboration time.
Test 3D scenarios, assessing hundreds or thousands of options during the planning process against agreed parameters or criteria.
Facilitate approval process, comparing design scenarios with consented planning schemes and existing site conditions for faster agreement on key issues.
Identify client priorities; testing many possibilities can help identify what is most important.
Improve participatory design; with more data, we can understand community needs and improve community engagement.
In most of the MENA and the Gulf region, we reach for the A/C control when entering any living or working space. But as we casually flip a switch, we tend not to consider all those carbon emissions caused by machines.
After years of indulgence and as witnessed by all of the end results, climate change is forcing all to go green by trying to keep buildings cool as it gets hotter. Greening the Global Construction Industry has already engaged in developing new techniques, tools, products and technologies – such as heat pumps, better windows, more vital insulation, energy-efficient appliances, renewable energy and more imaginative design – has enabled emissions to stabilize the past few years.
The Conversation Weekly podcast is now back after a short break. Every Thursday, we explore the fascinating discoveries researchers are using to make sense of the world and the big questions they’re still trying to answer.
In this episode we find out how “modern” styles of architecture using concrete and glass have often usurped local building techniques better suited to parts of the world with hotter climates. Now some architects are resurrecting traditional techniques to help keep buildings cool.
From western Europe to China, North Africa and the US, severe heatwaves brought drought, fire and death to the summer of 2022. The heatwaves also raised serious questions about the ability of existing infrastructure to cope with extreme heat, which is projected to become more common due to climate change.
Yet, for thousands of years, people living in parts of the world used to high temperatures have deployed traditional passive cooling techniques in the way they designed their buildings. In Nigeria, for example, people have long used biomimicry to copy the style of local flora and fauna as they design their homes, according to Anthony Ogbuokiri, a senior lecturer in architectural design at Nottingham Trent University in the UK.
But in the 20th century, cities even in very hot climates began following an international template for building design that meant cities around the world, regardless of where they were, often had similar looking skylines. Ogbuokiri calls this “duplitecture”, and says it “ramped up the cooling load” due to an in-built reliance on air conditioners.
Alongside this, there was a massive boom in the use of concrete, particularly after the second world war when the Soviet Union and the US started gifting their cold war allies concrete technology. “It was a competition both to discover who actually mastered concrete and who was better at gathering the materials, the people and the energy to make concrete,” explains Vyta Pivo, assistant professor of architecture at the University of Michigan in the US. But too much concrete can contribute to the phenomenon of urban heat islands, where heat is concentrated in cities. Concrete is also a considerable contributor to global carbon emissions.
Some architects and researchers are working to rehabilitate and improve traditional passive techniques that help keep buildings cool without using energy. Susan Abed Hassan, a professor of architectural engineering at Al-Nahrain University in Baghdad, Iraq, focuses a lot on windcatchers in her work, a type of chimney which funnels air through houses to keep them cooler in hot climates. She’s now looking at how to combining underground water pipes with windcatchers to enhance their cooling effects.
Listen to the full episode to find out about other techniques being used to keep buildings cool without relying on air conditioning.
Saudi crown prince unveils design for NEOM’s futuristic, smart linear city ‘The Line’
The city’s design will be completely digitised and the construction will be industrialised by significantly advancing construction technologies and manufacturing processes
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and chairman of the NEOM board of directors Mohammed bin Salman has announced the designs of ‘The Line’, a 170 kilometres long smart linear city.
According to the crown prince, the designs of The Line will embody how urban communities will be in the future in an environment free from roads, cars and emissions. The city will run on 100 percent renewable energy and will prioritise people’s health and well-being over transportation and infrastructure as in traditional cities. It will also put nature ahead of development and will contribute to preserving 95 percent of NEOM’s land.
Last year, the crown prince launched the initial idea and vision of the city that redefines the concept of urban development and what cities of the future should look like.
“We cannot ignore the livability and environmental crises facing our world’s cities, and NEOM is at the forefront of delivering new and imaginative solutions to address these issues. NEOM is leading a team of the brightest minds in architecture, engineering and construction to make the idea of building upwards a reality,” said the crown prince.
He added, “NEOM will be a place for all people from across the globe to make their mark on the world in creative and innovative ways. NEOM remains one of the most important projects of Saudi Vision 2030, and our commitment to delivering The Line on behalf of the nation remains resolute.”
The city’s design will be completely digitised, and the construction industrialised to a large degree by significantly advancing construction technologies and manufacturing processes.
The Line, which is only 200 metres wide, 170 kilometres long and 500 metres above sea level, will eventually accommodate 9 million residents and will be built on a footprint of 34 square kilometres, reducing the infrastructure footprint of the city.
Further into The Line’s design, NEOM revealed that the city will be designed with the concept referred to as Zero Gravity Urbanism in mind. The idea of layering city functions vertically while giving people the possibility of moving seamlessly in three dimensions (up, down or across) to access them. Unlike cities with just tall buildings, this concept layers public parks and pedestrian areas, schools, homes and places for work, so that one can move effortlessly to reach all daily needs within five minutes.
The Line will also have an outer mirror façade, allowing it to blend with nature, while the interior will be built to create extraordinary experiences for people living within the city.
LOLWAH AL-KHATER, Assistant Foreign Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, is Executive Director of the Doha Forum and BRIAN FINLAY, President and CEO of the Stimson Center elaborate an article of Project Syndicate on how Building the Green-Recovery Consensus should be undertaken as off these days.
Even if everyone can agree in principle that the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic should be equitable and sustainable, that doesn’t mean it will be. What is needed is a concrete roadmap with clear goals, timelines, and innovative ideas to ensure that policymakers around the world are on the same page.
March 21, 2022
DOHA – While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is capturing global headlines, COVID-19 continues to wreak socioeconomic havoc around the world. The pandemic has taken more than six million lives, pushed 124 million people into extreme poverty, and impeded progress toward achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Fortunately, around five billion people have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the World Health Organization and Gavi have set a goal of vaccinating 70% of people in all countries by this July.
Notwithstanding the horrific war in Ukraine, the pandemic and its lasting toll will continue to top the list of pressing global concerns alongside climate change. The effects of the latter crisis are already being felt daily, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report shows. Just recently, extreme temperatures and droughts have ravaged West Asia and North Africa. Rising sea levels are threatening many island states and low-lying countries. Catastrophic flooding has inundated parts of Europe and China. And wildfires have torn across the American West and large swaths of Australia.
Scientists now warn that “business as usual” will likely increase the average global temperature, relative to the pre-industrial level, by a catastrophic 3-4º Celsius by the end of the century. To keep global warming at a far safer level, below 1.5ºC, carbon dioxide emissions will need to fall by 45% (from 2010 levels) by 2030, and then to net-zero by 2050.
Now that we know Omicron to be less deadly than earlier COVID-19 variants, we should use this moment to build on the momentum generated last November at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. The world needs to draft a recovery plan that goes well beyond pandemic response by also starting to tackle climate change. The recovery must be not only broad-based but also green.
What does this mean in practical terms? In advance of the 20th edition of the Doha Forum on March 26-27, our organizations teamed up to explore 20 targeted initiatives for driving a just, healthy, and sustainable global recovery. These are outlined in a recently published report, Building Back Together & Greener.
To make the recovery green and sustainable, we propose a Global Green Hydrogen Alliance to facilitate more efficient, climate-friendly methods of producing hydrogen. Once established, the next steps would include setting up a global inventory of green hydrogen programs, protecting intellectual property and licensing rights while expanding global access, and encouraging alliance-wide standard setting for safe storage and transportation.
A fair and inclusive recovery requires more investment in human capital – particularly to upgrade workers’ skills – and an emphasis on supporting the people who are most at risk. Planning processes should privilege public and private financing for low-carbon activities and infrastructure that have the greatest potential to generate jobs for young people and other vulnerable groups facing employment challenges.
To ensure that the recovery supports health and well-being, we need a Global Fund for Social Protection to assist developing-country governments in providing adequate social programs. Such a fund would boost coordination efforts and mobilize domestic and external resources to provide a buffer against economic shocks, including those induced by climate-related environmental disasters.
Finally, to realize the potential of digitalization in advancing the recovery, we need to promote large-scale investment in information- and communications technology infrastructure, both to achieve digital equity and to leverage the economic, health, and environmental potential of new technologies. International organizations and governments should work with businesses to provide effective and reliable digital connectivity, including through targeted investments in the steady digitalization of most (if not all) public services.
Several significant international meetings will be held over the next seven months, each of which will provide an opportunity to take steps toward a shared recovery. But marshalling governments, businesses, and civil society behind a coherent, representative, and sustained global implementation strategy will require a culminating meeting.
That is why we are calling for a “Green Pandemic Recovery Summit,” to be orchestrated by the United Nations and the G20. A two-day event, timed to coincide with the annual UN General Assembly in September, would help to ensure that political leaders at the highest levels commit to pursuing sustainable and equitable socio-economic development in the post-COVID era.
The trillions of dollars spent by wealthy countries during the pandemic shows that there are financial tools available to tackle serious challenges. What is needed is political will, creative market incentives, and a practical blueprint, with clear goals, timelines, and programming ideas.
Resources drawn from related initiatives can help. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Build Back Better World partnership, and national-level “green deals” are generally aligned in their key objectives. UN Secretary-General António Guterres’sOur Common Agenda report offers additional timely and ambitious ideas for delivering global public goods and addressing major risks.
People and countries are understandably still focused on the pandemic, the fear that humanity is nearing the point of no return with respect to climate change, the war in Ukraine, and other global threats. Fortunately, we already have the multilateral institutions that we need to forge a global political consensus for tackling these overlapping crises. We now must leverage these tools accordingly.
CallisonRTKL (CRTKL), a global cultural agency specialising in architecture, planning and design, has published a report forecasting the future of the built environment and the key factors that will shape the residential market and its BTR and senior living lifestyle developments in 2022.
According to the report, the brief for the home is changing. The need now is for productive living environments with the technological infrastructure to support residents. Consequently, a new era is driving hybrid lifestyles and hybrid working cities. Residents are working, exercising, shopping, learning and meeting in more unexpected ways, which are now being dictated by purpose and convenience rather than demand.
For example, coffee shops are popping up in offices, ghost kitchens in hotels and healthcare services in apartment buildings. As these lines continue to blur, a different set of residential amenities are emerging and bringing with them, buildings that will play a more active role in the health and wellness of those that inhabit them.
Obada Adra, Associate Principal at CRTKL, commented: “The residential market and the demands being placed on the home have changed. The need now is for places that are fluid, flexible and authentic. Across the region, people are demanding a more dynamic lifestyle offering that caters to new hybrid working styles and provides greater community and cultural connection.
“At CRTKL, we are developing a blueprint for new buildings that will be more hybridised with changeable systems, structures and modules that can be adapted to suit the evolving needs of the market,” Adra said.
According to the report, three new concepts are driving residential development:
* The Home of Things (HoT): This refers to the physical objects within the home that are embedded with sensors, processing ability, software and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks. Innovative technology in a fully integrated HoT allows endless opportunities for improved home performance and convenience. Connected and controlled through a resident’s mobile device, the HoT could support amenities by tracking, measuring and improving personal energy usage and well-being. Biometric data gathered here could then be shared with in-house practitioners or resident nutritionists, counsellors, and other health professionals that could rotate through a new type of hyper-local medical office or telemedicine pods that are built into the offer.
* The Branded Residence – Residential meets hospitality meets healthcare: New attitudes about health, wealth, and family are transforming an industry that formerly defined by medical care and home equity. Seniors are delaying entering interdependent living, choosing to age-in-place and increasingly demanding more urban settings and connections to communities and culture. As residents, they want an inner-city lifestyle, impressive amenities, luxury services, superior care, varied culinary options, and resort-like experiences where they can grow and thrive as aging individuals. Spaces that allow their lifestyles, hobbies, and pets to move with them – where they can feel at home, host others, and gain access to improved convenience and care.
To attract the booming elderly population, development is moving in a new direction towards brand residences and a lifestyle product that blends residential operations with a hospitality approach that is based on a professionally managed rental model. These models will focus on holistic health, community integration and mixed-use opportunities, incorporating senior wellness programs across education, exercise (both instructor and technology led), health, nutrition and intergenerational connection.
* The Hybridised model or a ‘Universal Building’: There is a need for the new building typology to feature shared uses that come together to form a hub for a community of creatives, who blend living with working and socialising. The Universal Building allowing for flexible development strategies to take shape over time. With the ability to easily shift the program mix, this supports a city’s strategic goals in that it offers innovative housing and workplace options for an evolving and diverse community. It refers to a framework building with changeable systems, structure, and modules. This uniquely flexible platform can adapt program uses based on changing market needs. From the column grid to carefully considered floor-to-floor heights, the building will easily shift between residential, office and social spaces.
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