Urban populations are growing and around three out of every four of us will live in cities by 2050. As cities expand, pressure on vital resources of energy, water and food increases. Across the world there are big differences in the way cities are built and run, how inhabitants move around and how they use energy. It is vital to understand more about these differences in order to make the right choices for building sustainable cities.
New Lenses on Future Cities
Our first New Lens Scenarios supplement looked at 500 cities around the world to explore how individual cities could evolve more sustainably.
Shining a new light on future cities
Title: Shining a new light on future cities
Duration: 2:07 minutes
Research sponsored by Shell, in conjunction with the Centre for Liveable Cities, has produced insights which groups current cities into six categories so as to provide a better understanding of how cities develop, thus facilitating planning for future cities which will be more energy efficient and more liveable.
Shining a new light on future cities
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Cities are like people. They need energy, water, food. They live and breathe, grow and change. Just like people, no two cities are the same but they do have features in common. Research sponsored by Shell, in conjunction with the Centre for Liveable Cities, has grouped cities into six categories based on those features.
Text displays centre-frame over aerial footage, by night, of city buildings. Aerial footage by night of city interchange. Wide view of infrastructure seen in shadow against an orange sky. Time lapse footage of buildings under construction beneath blue skies and scudding white clouds. Groups of people seen in shadow beneath a palm tree, the sun setting over the ocean in the background. Time lapse footage of the sun breaking through the clouds and sunlight washing over the cityscape below. A series of panning aerial views of city highways and buildings. Miscellaneous city scenes in fast motion of buildings, highways, infrastructure and people.
Under-privileged crowded cities
Under-privileged crowded cities tend to be large and densely populated but they consume less energy than most.
Text and an icon representing what is described in the text both display centre-frame over aerial footage of various sections of densely-packed shack dwellings. Wide view of young men clambering over refuse and debris, smoke swirling around the shack dwellings in the background.
Under-developed urban centres
A relatively low population is a feature of some under-developed urban centres. Less energy is needed for homes although transport systems can increase energy use.
Text and an icon representing what is described in the text both display centre-frame over various street scenes in underdeveloped urban centres, the streets lined with stalls and street vendors, and teeming with pedestrians. Footage of people entering a narrow, shadowy alleyway, riding bicycles. Landscape view of an urban centre seen in shadow beneath a setting sun.
Prosperous communities of people with high incomes are mostly found in smaller cities. These are highly liveable, but with energy challenges of their own.
Text and an icon representing what is described in the text both display centre-frame over aerial footage of a modern-day city with waterways and features of modern infrastructure. Low angle panning footage of tall, beautiful buildings. Aerial footage of boats and pleasure craft moving along a waterway flanked with modern-day city buildings and dwellings. Low angle footage of large numbers of cyclists moving along a street in both directions.
Some fast-growing and densely populated cities fall into the category of developing mega-hubs, where the majority of people are on low incomes.
Text and an icon representing what is described in the text both display centre-frame over fast-motion footage of traffic streaking in both directions on a city highway, tall buildings lining the streets beneath the pink and orange hues of a sunset sky. Time lapse aerial footage of traffic streaking in all directions on a city interchange flanked by tall buildings as the sky and light changes with the passage of time. Miscellaneous city scenes by both day and night of skyscraper skylines, people, and transport infrastructure.
High energy use for cars and homes is associated with sprawling metropolises where three million people or more live.
Text and an icon representing what is described in the text both display centre-frame over miscellaneous footage of the buildings and infrastructure of large, sprawling cities seen beneath smoggy skies. Miscellaneous city street scenes featuring pedestrians, vehicles, waterways and tall buildings. Fast motion footage of pedestrians moving along a sidewalk.
Finally, urban powerhouses are large cities with dense populations. They are highly developed with energy efficient housing and transport.
Text and an icon representing what is described in the text both display centre-frame over low angle panning footage of modern skyscrapers, illuminated with light beneath night skies. Fast motion footage of pedestrians walking about in cities at night, illuminated by the light of infrastructure and buildings in the background. Fast motion footage of highways streaking with the light of traffic at night, tall buildings forming the backgrounds.
Low angle panning footage of tall city buildings beneath blue skies. Panning footage of skyscrapers illuminated by light beneath a black sky. Low angle footage of skyscrapers illuminated by light beneath a dark blue sky, traffic streaking along highways in fast motion in the foreground. Night-time city scape, buildings illuminated by light beneath the black and red hues of a smoggy night sky. Time-lapse panoramic footage of a city by night highlighting the power grid as lights on streets and in buildings come on. More low angle footage of skyscrapers illuminated by light beneath a dark sky, traffic streaking along city streets in fast motion in the foreground.
The previously shown icons display successively at centre-frame over a night-time city scape, aerial footage of densely-packed shack dwellings, vertically panning footage of a modern skyscraper, panoramic view of city infrastructure seen in shadow against a smoggy evening sky, aerial footage of a modern-day city with waterways and features of modern infrastructure, street scene in an underdeveloped urban centres, the streets lined with stalls and street vendors, and teeming with pedestrians.
Miscellaneous time lapse aerial footage of traffic streaking in all directions on city interchanges flanked by tall buildings. Low angle fast-motion panning footage by night, from a point of view underneath a city bridge.
These insights will provide a better understanding of how cities develop, and that will help us plan for a future where cities are more energy efficient and more liveable.
The six previously shown icons display in a horizontal line across centre-frame over slowly panning aerial footage, by night, of illuminated city streets and buildings.
New Lenses on Future Cities
To find our more, download New Lenses on Future Cities now.
Text displays across centre-frame over the slowly panning aerial footage, by night, of illuminated city streets and buildings.
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© Shell International Limited 2014
Research into 500 cities by Strategy&, supported by Shell, showed that cities can be grouped into six categories, or city archetypes. We analysed the six city archetypes to better understand the changing world and help create scenarios about how individual cities could evolve and become more efficient. We also examined how cities have coped with major development challenges in the past.
For example, faced with high levels of poverty and unemployment in the 1960s, Singapore has since evolved into one of the world’s most prosperous cities through smart urban planning and investment in public transport.
In New Lenses on Future Cities, we have identified several ways in which city leaders can help make the urbanisation process more sustainable. Effective planning to reduce the need to travel around cities, together with efficient public transport for when it is unavoidable, can make a big difference. Wider use of electric, hydrogen or natural gas-driven vehicles also makes a major contribution to sustainability, as does switching from coal- to gas-fired power generation.
We have also co-produced two in-depth city reports – for Marikina in the Philippines, and Surat in India – which focus on ways these cities might increase resilience in the face of challenges.
Download our supplement and in-depth city reports and discover how we might make our cities more efficient, appealing places to live.
Our Cities Reports
Study on Marikina City
Challenges and Opportunities for Marikina City
A city resilience study co-produced by the Shell Scenarios team examines how Marikina City, part of the Manila metropolitan area in the Philippines with a population of around half a million, could achieve its aspiration to grow more sustainably.
Marikina is prone to flooding, due to monsoon rains swelling the rivers that run through the city. It suffered a major flood in 2012. The study suggests developing green recreation spaces to help absorb heavy rains during tropical storms, and considering the development of a distributed energy system within the city, which can help provide power in case of natural calamities.
Study on Surat City
Challenges and Opportunities for Surat City
The second city resilience report co-authored by the Shell Scenarios team explores how the fast-growing Indian city of Surat could develop smart infrastructure to strengthen local services and energy supplies.
The city, which had a population of 4.6 million in the 2011 census, is experiencing rapid industrialisation and migration. It is also one of the world’s most climate change-affected cities, according to World Bank Sustainable Development Network, and has experienced 23 floods in the past century.
Definitions & cautionary note
Cities of the future
Around three out of every four of us will live in cities by 2050. Cities around the world are hubs for innovation and are often at the forefront of new models, technologies and social enterprise.
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