Urban planning is on the rise as an ever-growing portion of the population is expected to live in cities in the future, resulting in further growth as more citizens are born outside of rural areas. In preparation for such a change, city planners have been forced to focus on the development of more urban areas and on ways to make them sustainable. If cities are going to be bursting at the seams, they need to be able to support the many people within their boundaries.
One area that is drawing particular attention is improved zoning and building standards. In light of recent catastrophic events around the world, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis, architects are hard-pressed to design buildings that can withstand the force of nature. In addition, modern urban planners must place an emphasis on choosing environmentally friendly materials, techniques and layouts. In essence, builders will need to go green, choosing safe strategies that will conserve energy and not waste resources or harm the planet.
A push for conservation of natural resources is another vital issue. This can be a problem no matter where people reside, but as populations grow and concentrate, there will be a growing need for more food, water and energy production. Non-renewable resources are of greatest concern since when they are gone, there will be no means of replacing them. Petroleum is a major example of a finite fuel source. Planners need to combine their efforts to make improvements in the way they are harnessing existing resources while exploring the possibility of new ones. For example, hydroelectric power and wind turbines are alternative urban power production methods that are currently being explored. Solar panels may also someday become standard. In addition, designers are working toward zero emissions to protect the environment. They also need to find ways to treat and recycle clean water sources. Food, too, will be in greater demand with an accompanying need for creative methods of transportation and storage.
Travel and transportation for the public is another area of importance. Customer-centric designs are the new push, emphasizing airway and train travel that is designed for efficiency, convenience, comfort and ease. In addition, careful thought is being put into designing roadways that can handle a large volume of traffic in an organized and safe manner. Wider lanes, roundabouts and bridges that can handle a heavy burden are only a few of the ways in which urban planning is aimed at sustainability in this area.
Another area that must be addressed is coordination of worldwide efforts. For example, if the timber and paper companies, the mining industry and the metal industry team up, they can refine their processes. Companies do not necessarily need to work harder, they need to work smarter – finding ways to make the most of available resources. It is time to take advantage of the technological advances that so impact other areas of life in city planning as well. Through innovation and dedication, architects and city planners can come forward with groundbreaking concepts that will address the many concerns that are faced in preparing for greater population growth. It will take a team approach to step into the future.