World's Most Visionary Cities
When it's fully operational in approximately 2020, wholly sustainable Masdar City is slated to have zero waste and zero carbon emissions; it will recycle most of its water and rely on solar energy and other renewable resources. Gas-guzzling cars are banned—replaced instead by podlike, battery-operated transit systems that travel underground. It's a visionary template for the world of tomorrow.
While Masdar City may represent the future metropolis, its planners are hardly the world's only visionary urbanites. Across the globe, architects and social engineers are taking entirely unique approaches to redefine how cities function. And traveling to these visionary cities today gives you a taste of the world of tomorrow.
1. Seoul: Public Bridge
The sleek, sculptural Paik Nam June Media Bridge—connecting Seoul's Dang-Li power plant with the National Assembly Building—will be a multilevel marvel. Inside the solar-powered span you'll find gardens (sprinkled with harnessed rainwater), a library, museum, and stores. Pedestrians and cyclists can leisurely cross the car-free bridge, and boats can dock at the base. Oh, and since the span is named after the renowned Korean video artist, expect the bridge to serve as a canvas for art installations. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2012.
2. Masdar City, Abu Dhabi: Sustainability
Eco-warriors, meet Mecca: once completed, Masdar City promises to be the world's most sustainable urban locale. The city will be powered by solar and wind energy; recycle the majority of its wastewater; and try to reduce its waste to zero via unorthodox methods such as transforming biological waste into soil and fertilizer. A perimeter wall surrounding Masdar will keep desert winds at bay, while shaded streets combat the blazing sun. As for gas-guzzling cars, they're eighty-sixed from city limits (electric vehicles are allowed), replaced by mass transit and pod-like vehicles that travel underground. Some systems are already operational, but the city will come online fully in approximately 2020.