Suburbs of the future

Inside the homes of the future, there will be less things and more people. Many commonplace objects will be missing so the homes may appear to be burgled: televisions, telephones, books, art, even mirrors are conspicuously absent, replaced by tech like PaperID or “smart paper”.

Like a futuristic version of the Edward Scissorhands opening sequence, your refrigerator will plan meals for you and order the ingredients to be delivered — then tell your oven exactly how long the meal needs to be cooked for.

Protein keratin-type wool fibres will make doing laundry unnecessary, and your typical morning routine will involve a totally non-intrusive series of medical tests using expensive diagnostic machinery. Brushing your teeth will become a quaint memory thanks to dental vaccinations and non-stick dental coatings. Toilets clean themselves with wipers and their users with sensitive jets of water.

Suburbs will become king, and while some of the above sounds far-fetched, the most important changes to how we’re living are already starting to take shape…

And most excitingly, telepresence is set to eliminate the need to move in search of work which will see suburbs swell in a mass exodus from congested cities. Suburbs will become king, and while some of the above sounds far-fetched, the most important changes to how we’re living are already starting to take shape…

Co-living to cure all society’s ills…

As millennials are priced out of traditional housing markets in most major cities, co-living micro flats are a fast-growing area, one that private investors and venture capitalists are eager to tap into. While the motivations may stem from financial necessity, the sustainability benefits are clear too. Start-ups around the world are currently working toward offering clean, smart designed, shared living spaces that are efficient and affordable. Most of the designs feature multiple bedrooms with communal kitchen and lounge areas and combine all your bills into one cost of living. The building manifests speak about the eradication of loneliness and championing a sharing economy that helps to soften both the planet’s rapidly depleting resources, and fast-growing population.

“As millennials are priced out of traditional housing markets in most major cities, co-living micro flats are a fast-growing area, one that private investors and venture capitalists are eager to tap into”

Cars give way to green space…

Car ownership, and even the mighty Uber, will be an outdated concept. In your future suburban development, you will order an autonomous car, via an app, from a remote solar-charging car park. In a keynote speech given by Tony Seba in Oslo, Norway in 2016 titled, “Why conventional energy and transportation will be obsolete by 2030”, he explained clear data on real world changes regarding energy storage and autonomous vehicles.

In Seba’s future, as your car drives you away from you home it will also tell it to turn off all non-essential lights and utilities for greater energy efficiency. Because of these self-driven rides, suburban homes won’t need driveways or garages, so front yards will be bigger and more devoted to recreational activities or ecological functions.

The natural evolution of this will be the long-talked about ‘green spaces’. Essential to the sustainability and longevity of a city, parks and community-focused green spaces will bring life into urban centres and become paramount to the health and wellbeing of the people who dwell in them.

City planners and design professionals all over the world have begun inventing innovative new ways to incorporate green spaces into urban structures. From rooftop gardens, and pocket-parks, to parklets and green walls, these injections of life that are beautiful but also vitally functional. Green spaces help keep cities cool by defusing urban heat caused by concrete, bitumen and glass in higher-density cities. While keeping the city temp down, they also encourage recreation, tackling health problems like obesity, anxiety and depression. Plus, being around nature helps you mentally. Foliage-heavy design also fights smog, produces oxygen, lightens noise levels, and looks amazing.

Which leads to a smarter landscape…

Because of this extra space, wider footpaths and paths will connect to open spaces, curated communal areas and vegetable gardens. Climate change will have resulted in heavier rainfall and the need to store this extra water to prevent urban flooding means these spaces can also be used for vernal ponds or wetlands that help manage storm run-off and control overflow. Less pavements in your suburb will mean the ground absorbs more rain and snow.

Less pavements in your suburb will mean the ground absorbs more rain and snow.

Planners by then will view cities and suburbs as integrated environmental and technological regions, not just as individual and separate units.

This also means your food will grow closer to home…

Urban farmers are already on a mission to grow fresh and local food in cities everywhere, cutting down on the environmental havoc wreaked by travel and providing healthy fresh food to everyone.

We see a world where everyone can know their farmer, and everyone has access to locally grown food they can trust

Because we’re all at the mercy of international markets, our food is often low-nutrient and highly processed, shipped in from thousands of kilometres away. It leaves us completely disconnected from our food and the people who grow it. By harvesting in cities and suburbs, urban farmers will connect consumers to their food and cultivate a new generation of food entrepreneurs in our communities.

As Tobias Peggs, CEO of urban farming startup Square Roots says: “We see a world where everyone can know their farmer, and everyone has access to locally grown food they can trust”.

Solar power finally kills the electricity bill…

As electricity prices rise and the effects fossil fuels have on the environment become more obvious, people will increasingly look towards solar power to vanquish their electricity bill and help take a load off the environment.

New battery technology like Tesla’s Powerwall is already being picked up by the market, and investment bank Morgan Stanley is expecting the home battery market in Australia to be worth $24 billion in the next few years. They so passionately believe people will take up the solar and battery combination in droves before 2020 that they’re already advising investors against putting money towards traditional energy companies.

As battery technology gets cheaper, homes will be able to run from their solar panel and battery storage combos alone, supplying them with unlimited free energy to power. Even before it gets to that point, batteries will make sure you never have to worry about a power outage again, supplying backup power for hours and even days until your electricity comes back on. It’s even possible to then make money off having a solar and battery combination by selling power you don’t use back to the communal grid.

Designing to connect

When it comes to planning future cities there’s one word that that will become fundamental: connection. Connecting people to places, people to transport and people to people, will become the bedrock that all urban planning will be built around.

The results have become clear in things like a rise in obesity, social alienation and pollution. and traffic – not to mention lost economic opportunities.

By now we’ve learned that the quality and efficiency of our connections have a major impact on how we experience day to day life. In the past cities were planned without the deceptively simple principle that we must ensure that people are at the centre of how we plan, where we live and how we travel – often leaving cities and suburbs in a state of ‘urban disconnect’.

The results have become clear in things like a rise in obesity, social alienation and pollution. and traffic – not to mention lost economic opportunities.

Suburb and city designers of the future will engage more of their own citizens at the planning stage, with connection being central to place-making. This reinforces our positive communal identity, sense of ownership, and responsibility toward building happy, environmentally stable neighbourhoods together.

All credit to Alice Williams | news.com.au

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

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