A greenhouse to grow vegetables, deliveries carried out by drone, and 3D printers used to produce everyday objects are just some of the elements in a spectacular urban housing development design called ‘Self-Sufficient City’.
The brainchild of Spanish firm Guallart Architects, the Self-Sufficient City project has drawn much of its inspiration from world-wide restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. From not being able to go to work, and struggling to overcome a fear of human contact, Guallart Architects draws from these experiences to create plans for an urban environment, which would be much better equipped to withstand the impact of another lockdown than the cities of today.
Their proposal won a design competition to create an extensive mixed-used development in Xiong’an New Area in the province of Hubei in China, where close to half a million people were forced to endure a second lockdown in June of this year, in the wake of a resurgence of Covid-19. With self-sufficiency integrated on the level imagined by Guallart Architects, the threat of future pandemics would be far less terrifying than it is for most of us today.
Biodiversity: A Key Theme in Future City Design
In concrete terms, this involves the construction of greenhouses equipped with LED grow lights, and hydroponic systems for fruit and vegetable production — all found on top of most urban buildings. Similar initiatives are currently gaining recognition for clever space usage, as well as their optimal conservation of water. At the same time, space should be set aside for more traditional cultivation methods, which the Spanish-based architects ave emphasised by including dedicated gardens for aromatic herbs.
Here, not only is nature valued as a food source, but is also at the heart of many other aspects of Guallart’s proposal, which also makes extensive use of specific plants that attract butterflies and where every apartment is provided with its own nesting box to provide shelter for birds. Rainwater is also carefully collected and recycled for a variety of uses.
The focus on biodiversity does not mean, however, that everyday living in this future urban environment will be impractical. All dwellings come fully equipped with 5G internet to facilitate working from home. Plans also aim to reduce the use of motor vehicles, with many partially replaced by drones for the delivery of internet purchases, provisions to encourage cycling, widely available public transport, and a fleet of electric taxis. Alongside all of this, the proposal also features much of the infrastructure that makes urban living enjoyable today, including a market, stores, a swimming pool and a childcare facility.
As for everyday objects that might be lacking or broken, the Spanish architects provide for co-working workshops equipped with 3D printers where these can be created or repaired without any recourse to external supplies. In short, this is an urban development that is not only respectful of the environment, but also largely self-sufficient.
(Main and featured image: @gphaus on Instagram)
This story first appeared on Prestige Online Singapore.