Ambitious new cities Songdo and Masdar may not have lived up to their promise, but smaller projects in the US aim to be laboratories for sustainable city planning
Masdar, on the edges of Abu Dhabi, was billed as the worlds first sustainable city when it was conceived in 2006. It was intended to be a zero-carbon, zero-waste city, with smart technology embedded across all the citys functions. A decade on and ambitions have cooled. The completion date has moved from 2016 to 2030 and city authorities have said it wont achieve the original aim of being a net zero-emissions city.
In South Korea, the purpose-built city of Songdo was built on land reclaimed from the Yellow Sea. It is an aerotropolis where an airport, in this case Incheon, is the anchor for a city rather than vice versa. Planned as the worlds smartest city, it has sensors embedded into everything from waste management systems to roads, tracking citizens by measuring consumption, emissions and other activities. Yet the tech-driven city remains under-populated and unfinished.
While these cities may not have lived up to their original promise, new, smaller scale projects, spearheaded by private companies are aiming to act as laboratories for smart city planning.
The American aerotropolis
In a 400-acre space just outside Denver International Airport, Japanese tech giant Panasonic has taken a lead role in the development of a US aerotropolis, Pea Station NEXT.
The commercial and residential project is influenced by a Japanese smart city that Panasonic teams have spent the better part of the past decade creating. Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town is a 45-acre community of 1,600 homes, around 30 miles outside Tokyo, which opened its doors in 2014.
Were taking the genesis of Fujisawa and adapting that to Pena Station in an American way, says George Karayannis, vice-president of Panasonics CityNow.