12 futuristic cities being built around the world, from Saudi Arabia to China

The Mirror Line, Chengdu Future City and Telosa are among the exciting projects in the pipeline

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As the world changes, so must our cities.

With the global population continuing to increase and climate change drastically affecting our environment, many metropolises are struggling to grow, develop and even support citizens within current and traditional urban designs.

Governments, entrepreneurs and technology companies are employing some of the world’s leading architects and designers to rethink the idea of cities, as well as how people interact and live within them.

From reclaimed land, groundbreaking skyscrapers in the desert and metropolises rising in the metaverse, here are 12 incredible futuristic cities redefining the urban spaces we live in.

The Line, Saudi Arabia

Designers: Morphosis Architects

The $500 billion Neom project in Saudi Arabia is set to be home to a record-setting 170-kilometre-long skyscraper called The Line.

It will be the world’s largest structure, comprising two buildings up to 490 metres tall, running parallel to each other. The structures will be connected by walkways and a high-speed transport system, which will connect one end of the city to the other in 20 minutes.

Designed by the US-based Morphosis Architects, The Line promises to be walkable city, with no cars and zero carbon emissions.

BiodiverCity, Malaysia

BiodiverCity, Malaysia. Photo: BIG

Designers: Bjarke Ingels Group

BiodiverCity is a planned sustainable city made of three artificial islands built off the shore of Penang Island in Malaysia.

A place where people and nature co-exist BiodiverCity and its lily pad-shaped islands will be home to between 15,000 and 18,000 residents. Structures will be built using natural materials such as timber, bamboo and concrete created from recycled materials.

The city is also planned to be a global travel destination, with 4.6km of public beaches and 242 hectares of parks and a 25km waterfront. BiodiverCity will also be a car-free environment, where pedestrians can use the planned autonomous water, air and land public transportation network.

Chengdu Future City, China

Chengdu Future City, China. Photo: OMA

Designers: OMA

China’s planned Chengdu Future City is challenging conventions of urban planning by proposing a master plan not based on traditional, car-orientated road networks.

Its six distinct zones will be connected though a smart mobility network using automated vehicles. The zones will also be pedestrian-friendly and within a 10-minute walk of each other.

The 4.6-square-kilometre site will also have an international education park where buildings, including a university, will have landscaped terraces, designed to be an extension of the natural landscape.

Akon City, Senegal

Akon City, Senegal. Photo: Akon City

Designers: Bakri & Associates Development Consultants

Akon City is a planned 809-hectare futuristic city that will be located along the Atlantic coast, 100 kilometres south of Dakar.

Conceived and launched by singer and entrepreneur Akon, the smart city will be eco-friendly and powered by renewable energy. Described by Akon as a “real-life Wakanda”, a reference to the film Black Panther that inspired him, Akon City is set to have large skyscrapers, shopping malls, parks, universities, a stadium and a technology hub.

Akon City’s goal is to stimulate the local economy and create jobs while using the latest technologies of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Telosa, the US

Telosa, US. Photo: Telosa

Designers: Bjarke Ingels

Announced in September 2021, Telosa is a proposed city conceived by billionaire Marc Lore, to be built somewhere in the US western desert.

With a planned population of five million people by 2050, Telosa will be a “15-minute city” where all amenities, such as schools, workplaces, and goods and service providers, will be a 15-minute commute from residents' homes.

Lore hopes Telosa will be the most sustainable city in the world where no vehicles powered by fossil fuels will be permitted. His vision also includes a reformed version of capitalism where wealth is created in a fair way, keeping residents’ quality of life as a priority.

Woven City, Japan

Woven City, Japan. Photo: Woven City

Designers: Bjarke Ingels Group

Toyota, the world's largest car maker, has already started construction on a 70-hectare smart city at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan.

Woven City will be one of the world’s first smart cities: a fully autonomous community designed to test new technologies such as automated driving, robotics and artificial intelligence in a real-world environment.

The city will be fully sustainable, powered by hydrogen fuel cells where pedestrian streets will intersect with those dedicated to self-driving cars. Wood will be the primary material for building to reduce carbon footprint and rooftops will be covered in photovoltaic panels to generate solar power.

It will have a starting population of 360 residents, with plans to grow the number over the coming years. Initially they will be inventors, senior citizens and young families who will test and develop smart technologies.

New Administrative Capital, Egypt

A rendering of Iconic Tower. The Capital Business District (CBD) being built in Cairo’s New Administrative Capital. The 20 skyscrapers in the district include the 385-metre Iconic Tower, which will be the tallest building in Africa. Photo: Dar Al-Handasah

Designers: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

The development is part of a larger initiative for Egypt’s 2030 Vision. The yet-to-be-named new capital city, 45 kilometres east of Cairo, will house up to seven million people.

The privately funded project will cover 700 square kilometres and will include 46 districts, 1,250 mosques and churches, solar energy farms and one of the world's largest urban parks.

The Cairo Light Rail Transit, inaugurated last month, will connect Cairo to the New Administrative Capital. One of the main drivers for the construction was to ease congestion in Cairo, which has a population of more than 10 million and is continuing to grow.

Liberland Metaverse, the metaverse

Liberland Metaverse by Zaha Hadid Architects. Photo: Metaverse

Designers: Zaha Hadid Architects

As the metaverse continues to inform how we could interact and occupy the digital realm, it’s also challenging how we view the idea of cities and nations.

Zaha Hadid Architects, in collaboration with the micronation of Liberland and ArchAgenda, is creating a "cyber-urban" city in the metaverse named Liberland Metaverse.

The completely virtual city is based on the Free Republic of Liberland — a micronation claimed by Czech politician Vit Jedlicka, which exists in the disputed land between Croatia and Serbia.

Liberland Metaverse will act as a virtual industry synergy and networking hub for crypto projects, crypto companies and crypto events. People will be able to buy plots of land with cryptocurrency and enter digital buildings as avatars.

Floating City, the Maldives

Designers: Waterstudio

One of the first floating cities in the world is being built in the Maldives in response to rising sea levels. With climate change a threat to many cities around the world, 80 per cent of the Maldives is expected to be uninhabitable by 2050.

Maldives Floating City is currently being designed to house 20,000 people as soon as 2024.

The development will be climate resistant and will work with rising sea levels. The eco-friendly project will include 5,000 low-rise floating homes built on hexagonal structures that will rise with the sea.

Amaravati, India

Amaravati, India. Photo: Foster + Partners

Designers: Foster + Partners

The city of Amaravati will be the new administrative capital of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in south-eastern India.

Situated on the banks of the River Krishna, Amaravati’s structure will be defined by a strong urban grid inspired by Lutyens’ Delhi, an area in New Delhi named after the British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, and Central Park in New York.

Greenery and water will make up at least 60 per cent of the city with the aim of making Amaravati one of the most sustainable in the world, complete with the latest technologies such as the conversion of light into electricity through the use of photovoltaics.

The transportation will include electric vehicles, water taxis and dedicated cycle routes with numerous pedestrian-friendly routes such as shaded streets and squares.

Nusantara, Indonesia

Nusantara, Indonesia. Photo: Urbanplus

Designers: Urban + practice

Indonesia plans to move its capital Jakarta to East Kalimantan, between North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara on the Indonesian part of Borneo island.

Nusantara, the new capital, is planned to be a sustainable city where high-rise structures will utilise 100 per cent eco-friendly construction and use entirely renewable energy. However, environmental groups have been vocal about how Nusantara’s construction could cause damage to one of the world’s oldest rainforests.

The cost of moving the capital is estimated at $35 billion and is seen as a necessary step for Indonesia’s future. Building Nusantara will help with the economic growth of the country and ease pressure on Jakarta, which suffers from continuous traffic jams and issues with pollution owing to a population of more than 10 million.

Net City, China

Net City, China. Photo: NBBJ

Designers: NBBJ Design Firm

China’s answer to Google, technology firm Tencent is building a city. The 22-million-square-foot urban development named Net City will be built on reclaimed land and will be designed to accommodate a population of 80,000.

The planned layout of Net City is designed to reduce traffic by including roads for buses, bikes and automated vehicles.

The development is planned to be sustainable with rooftop solar panels and advanced technological systems for reusing wastewater.

10 architectural marvels from around the world — in pictures

Updated: August 26, 2022, 8:55 AM
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