How will the ideal future look – and what will it be like to live in it? During last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, Alessandra Fidanza dedicated a keynote talk to this question. We talked to the architect and international environmental advisor about sustainable urban planning and the role new technologies play in creating liveable urban habitats for the future.
Mrs. Fidanza, cities around the world face the issue of climate change, in terms of adaptation and resilience to it. How can cities respond to this challenge?
Alessandra Fidanza: Looking at less developed countries, the major challenge is to upgrade slums and to redesign cities – also by developing consistent infrastructures. On the other hand, consolidated cities, like European ones, will more likely focus on redeveloping specific areas rather than expanding, for the sake of sustainability. One thing can be affirmed about cities, in general: they are on the frontline of climate change, now and even more in the future.
With all the growth issues, how can the future metropolis remain an attractive place to live?
Alessandra Fidanza: Future cities will have to improve their sustainability, also by providing green spaces, which can play multiple roles: socially, ecologically, and, moreover, to improve resilience to climate change. One of the most important issues are certainly waste management, the reduction of waste production and sustainable consumption. Integrating sustainable energy production with waste management will be crucial in large urban areas.
How can connected cities support this process?
Alessandra Fidanza: Smart cities are the future. Connected buildings are being developed around the world. A lot of connected technology is already used in housing. Take intelligent indoor light sensors, for instance. They can provide tangible energy savings by automatically switching on and off the light according to the actual needs of the user. The use of electric vehicles can also contribute by helping to reduce emissions in urban areas. However, the corresponding infrastructure is still do be extensively developed.
Which cities already give you a sense of the future?
Alessandra Fidanza: Cities must be able to learn from their experience to transform themselves in a more sustainable way. Look at the city of Malmö in Sweden, for example. They have sustainably transformed an important part of the city, Augustenborg. The area that was previously constantly affected by flooding has become a sustainable and attractive neighborhood. Today, it is an example of sustainable urban design, with integration of green spaces to increase resilience to climate change. There are many more interesting projects like this to be found all over the world.
What will be the shape of cities in the future, in your opinion?
Alessandra Fidanza: Every city has its own past in terms of geographical position, construction techniques, local materials used, weather series and environmental peculiarities. It is therefore advisable to examine the pre-existing urban structures very carefully – their history, architecture, and environment. In the future, there will be an increasing need for shaping new solutions tailored to different urban frameworks. The sound innovations will be those considering lessons learned from the local past.