The sharing economy has been heralded as a transformative approach to how we do business, view ownership and even trust each other. Five years later, has it run its course? In a recent article, Fast Company details the optimistic rise and cynical, money-driven fall of the sharing economy. There’s no doubt that today’s “sharing economy” is different than what was envisioned a few years ago, but many characteristics are still evident. Death, or growing pains?
Much of the urban renaissance has focused on agglomeration and the mega-city, but secondary cities also play key roles. Greater than the sum of their parts, these cities are part of broader urban systems that have essential positions in urban migration and economic supply chains. However, as the Wilson Center notes, they’ve also struggled to attract the investment necessary to help them thrive. In an urban century, a symbiotic relationship between secondary cities and their mega counterparts could enable a balance that allows many to thrive.
Uncertainty about transit arrival is a significant challenge for attracting new transit users, but accurate real time systems, built into vehicles and stations are costly for agencies working on tight budgets. In many cities, it’s a vicious cycle. App developers may have found a low-cost solution however. By crowdsourcing travel data, along with reports of delays and other issues, apps like Moovit and Swyft are presenting an alternative approach that could make transit more attractive to potential users, without increasing costs for transit agencies.
The dominant dwelling type constructed during the latter half of the 20th century in western countries (and now, beyond), the suburban home is often criticized (or ignored) in architectural and urbanism circles. But where did it come from? Two new books explore this question. The Daily Beast details the answers, from the early beginnings, to the expansion of housing sizes, generation after generation. By better understanding this dominant but disdained form, perhaps citymakers will reflect, and do better.
Since it’s inception in 1999, vertical farming has developed from an experimental concept to a serious business opportunity that could enhance urban sustainability and resilience. Based on a simple concept of growing food where most people live, scientists and entrepreneurs have worked to reduce costs and overcome challenges. As City Metric writes, many issues have been resolved and discussions have moved on to more nuanced challenges. We may be on the verge of a major transformation in how we feed our cities.
As land becomes increasingly valuable, more cities are looking upwards to accommodate growth. Tall buildings create their own challenges however. But one key challenge – shadows and darkness – may be resolved shortly. Several approaches to reflect dispersed light into spaces that would otherwise be shrouded in darkness, including moving panels and curved windows, could contribute to more livable spaces in the skyscraper city.
It’s become clear that there are numerous ways to create a healthier office. Now, Medibank, Australia’s largest private health insurer has built what might be the world’s healthiest office building. Designed on the principles of a health-based working environment, filled with plants, where employees are encouraged to move continually through the day, the building offers 26 different work settings to suit the changing needs of its users. The approach is paying dividends too. Absenteeism is down and productivity is up. The healthy office, a smarter way to work?
With the Internet of Things, controlling objects daily is becoming real. Valentin Heun at MIT’s Fluid Interfaces Lab introduced an app, Reality Editor, aiming to empower users to have more control over their smart tools. When you connect dots on your finger tip featuring the app, smart objects in a room start communicating each other. Combination of individual’s creativity and Reality Editor could bring interesting results to human interactions and physical environment outside of a room.
Major advances in 3D printing have demonstrated the technology’s potential to transform the way we create and produce nearly any item. Now, this technology is being applied to our cities. As Guardian Cities writes, Winsun, a Chinese company is scaling up production on 3D printed buildings, while a Dutch firm is working on intricate bridges. The approach creates very little waste, and has great potential in poverty- and disater-stricken areas, but could have serious job and architecture implications as well. Will the city of the future be 3D printed?
From driverless cars to the Hyperloop, significant change is coming to urban mobility. Few cities have begun to seriously address this disruptive change however. Recognizing this gap, Brooks Rainwater from the National League of Cities identifies four ways urban mobility will change, and what it means for cities. There are great opportunities on the horizon, but forward thinking policies are needed now, rather than as reactions to a future we knew was coming.