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Future Cities: A Reflection from Sustainability

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Studies
Wordcount: 9423 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Chapter 1

1.1 Introduction

The life on this earth started 4.5 billion years ago, since then it has seen the dawns of Civilizations, its development and emerging of cities. These cities and towns have become the primary human living spaces. It is said that half of the world’s population have been settled in urban areas and it is an estimation that it would exceed by 2050. There are numerous challenges that threaten the cities nowadays such as slums, poverty, pollution etc., Since industrial revolution there is an adverse impact on earth and its environment due to the destructive action of humans. Therefore, there is a need of sustainability in cities.

Building sustainable cities require a lot of economical investment in

  • Renewable energy
  • Designing of compact cities
  • Integrating nature into built environment
  • Affordable public transit
  • Improved waste management

This thesis recommends integrated strategies for city’s growth within the ecological limits and to achieve sustainability and innovation.



The future’s vision is a sustainable city that can be shared by every citizen. It is a way to provide a good quality of life in present as well as for upcoming generations. Sustainable cities can provide socioeconomic benefits without the loss of environment factor.

Sustainable city includes green cities, low-carbon city, eco-city, smart city etc. these evolves more integrated approach to sustainability. The attributes of sustainable cities are

  1. Sustainability
  2. Quality of life
  3. Urban aspects
  4. Intelligence


1.4 Research Questions

  • How UN recommendations can be implemented for Future cities?
  • Is sustainability a right approach towards the future cities?

1.5 Aim

To identify how planning of sustainable cities is applied in practice with the help of UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

1.6 Objectives

  • To study the problems faced by the existing cities.
  • To understand how sustainable, green, and eco-cities work.
  • To study the recommendations provided by UN Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030.
  • To compare the UN recommendations with the existing city scenario.

1.7 Methodology

  • The literature review explains about the challenges faced by the cities and research on sustainable green cities and eco-cities.
  • The second part deals with precedents which helps in creating a vision for the future cities.
  • The third chapter deals with United Nations 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals, its research on each aspect and how it is related to planning of cities.
  • The study will be compared with help of existing city and how does its planning lacks with the UN Goals.
  • The final chapter deals with lessons learned by the literature review and precedents that will help to create a vision of sustainable future city.


1.8 Scope and Limitations

The study will be focused on Sustainable urban development and strategies for the future.

Chapter 2

2.1 Sustainable Green Cities


Since the advent of Industrial revolution humans have developed a lot and its consequences led to an adverse effect on environment and hence there is a need of sustainability. As living spaces constitutes a great impact on human lives and on the earth’s system therefore there is a need to search for smarter ways to manage urbanization. And hence it is mandatory for the future cities to be more sustainable and smarter.

Firstly, the strategic masterplan of infrastructure should include renewable energy resources, water, transportation, waste and telecommunications and moreover the technologies required to integrate this system.

Secondly, green perspective should be taken in consideration while planning and financing. Sustainability should be kept in mind while designing the cities. Public transportation and ample number of pedestrian streets should be considered as these can further reduce pollution and energy consumption.

Third, these cities are not only sustainable but also experimental they help in increasing research, new businesses and jobs.



Denmark is the role model for sustainable community. The government of Denmark have increased the price of gasoline in addition to it they have initiated a CO2 tax this was the way to promote energy efficiency. They also found offshores oil but rather drilling the oil out they installed wind farms. There is economical hike of 70 percent since 1981 but on the other hand the energy consumption remains constant.

They focused more on wind and solar power. The Danish companies are one of the leading companies in wind turbines, solar panels and innovative manufacturers of biomass fuel. It’s said Denmark would be using 100% renewable energy by 2025. On addition to the renewable resources these companies also provide green jobs.


This city is situated in Denmark with 25,000 residents is mainly known as transportation hub, it has international ferry terminal that ports almost 3 million people each year. This city is said to be role model for the sustainable city, it is 100 percent independent on energy using mainly wind and biomass energy.

The use of biofuel cars, electric cars, and plugin hybrid cars and vehicles driven on hydrogen and methanol is a game changing invention that takes transportation to next level. The city also consists of a geothermal resource which can supply water with 40-degree Celsius temperature.


Singapore is a country situated in Asia and it is in the league of greenest cities in the world. Singapore is situated in the southern tip of southern peninsula it is considered as highly urbanized and called as a garden city because they have added lot of trees and parks recently.

Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew proposed a vision of Garden City in 1968. The Idea was to integrate urban development with environment that would further reduce the effect of concrete jungles. The aim of this project was to create rings of greenery, that would comprise of three different gardens and would wrap around Marina Bay area. The area of this project is 54 hectares and is called Gardens by the Bay. The purpose of this gardens is to provide shelter, shade and rainwater.

Singapore pledges for 0 waste of water, it purifies every drop of water by using modern technologies of desalination, this island conserve and recycle almost all of the rainfall water, its reserves and non-potable wastewater and converts it to a high purity H2O which is used for industrial purposes and also for drinking.

The transportation is mainly based on electric vehicles and electric autos, they have created the Green lots that helps in recharge of vehicles. These recharge stations are mainly solar powered. For other vehicles they have launched a technology called Hybrid Hydraulic Drive (HHD) this simply reuses the energy which is normally lost while braking.

In 2012 Singapore introduced a Green Plan which deals with six objectives namely climate change and green air, waste management, water, public health, conserving nature and international environmental relations. Singapore has taken lots of green approaches towards the welfare of its society.

Bristol, United Kingdom

This city is situated in southwest of England has developed number of strategies one of them is Bristol climate Protection and Sustainable Energy Strategy. It has drastically reduced the carbon emission. It is also considered U. K’s greenest city which has a good air quality. Bristol has won Green capital award which addressed 12 areas.

 Local contribution for Global change- the strategies developed by Bristol targeted to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

  • They initiated energy management
  • Eco-school programs to make awareness to climate change.
  • Generation of Wind Energy
  • Developing biomass boilers.
  • Streetlights changed to LED lamps.

Local Transport- use of compressed natural gas rather than fossil fuels.

  • Hydrogen waterbuses with zero emission.
  • Impact of cars is reduced in residential areas.
  • Promotion of cycling and creating an example of U. K’s cycling city.

Green urban areas including sustainable land use- ample amount of open spaces created.

  • Network of interconnected and multifunctional Green spaces.
  • Opted new land use plan and protect green areas.

Biodiversity and conserving nature- opted biodiversity action plan, which helps in conserving wildlife.

Improved quality of air.

Acoustical environment quality- it manages population exposures and noise pollution

Waste management and its waste production – strategies to reduction of waste to landfills.

Water consumptions- water supply has been managed substantially even though the population has increased by 10 percent.

Wastewater treatment- proper initiative for urban wastewater treatment which is 100 percent self-sufficient.

Eco-innovation and sustainable employment- all the communities in Bristol are working together from universities, businesses, municipalities etc. for social sustainability. Their prime moto is

  • Innovations
  • Developing supply chains.
  • Inward investment
  • Knowledge transfer and skills
  • Patriating eco innovations and creating an awareness towards smart eco city.

Municipalities environmental management- implement corporate environmental policies

Energy performance- Bristol is an energy efficient city in U.K.

  • Uses 20 percent less energy per person than the average.

Bristol has innovated in terms of green economy with commitment and spread the awareness of a sustainable city.

These 3 cities are the examples of sustainable model cities, these provide strategies and framework for future sustainable and eco-friendly cities, in this ever-growing and sprawling overpopulated cities of today they could be a new ray of hope. Turning waste, energy, water, telecommunication and transportations into sustainable processes.

2.2 Eco Cities

Ecocities- a new way for urban settlement

Since the primitive times, human beings have struggled to solve urban problems like land scarcity, environment sustainability, scarce recourses, and quality of life. These problems grew drastically as there was rise in population and degradation of natural resources on a great level. The planet has seen a sever climate change after the industrial revolution. It is said that the population would be thrice more than the existing no by 2050, with population the demand would also increase there is a need to restructure and reconsider building of cities and improvising the existing cities and towns for the betterment of our future generations. By doing this one should keep in mind it is a necessity that climate and eco-system both should go hand in hand.

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After the advent of industrial revolution people in large number moved from villages to cities for earning money this in turn led to overcrowded cities and slums. Ebenezer Howard put forth the idea of Garden city of tomorrow. the main concept of the Garden city was to create a balance between social, economic benefits of the cities and healthful benefits of countryside living. This would in return help to create greener environment, efficient sanitation conditions and ample amount of space for living.

He envisioned integrating the rural settlements and industrial urbanization through planning. He eradicated hierarchy of social groups and economically developed the space and environmental qualities. His idea remains unattainable as it is required to create a new development on the larger scale with societies that are self-governed.

Howard planned the towns for 30.000 people, the plan layout was in series and radial these layouts comprised of self-sufficient industries, agriculture, living, community services etc. these were restricted by a green belt. The ideology behind this planning was that one cluster should not exceed their growth potential and resources. The occupants owned the city collectively this minimized the conflicts between landlords and tenants.

The planning was inspired by wheel-and-spoke pattern where the sectors were free to expand over time. Each occupant is artisan produce goods for his community with potential to export it. Howard ideology was strong to eradicate the class system and to create economic growth by living sustainable. These cities would be public owned.

In past years there were many cities which were based on this ideology, but no one truly imitated his full concept for example Letch worth and Walwyn in England. Even though no cities were built on his concept, but his principles were advocated in many of the city planning.

In mid-1970’s theorists, city planners and activists brought together Howards ideology of redefining balance between nature and cities in Berkley, California. They put forth the term of “ecocity” in their famous book Ecocity Berkley: Building Cities for a Healthy Future. They passed environment friendly initiatives like planting trees on main street, building solar green house.

The meaning of Ecocity was ecologically healthy city. The principles of ecocity is to live within the constraints of environment. To reduce the carbon waste, to integrate nature in cities and produce renewable energy.  This can stimulate higher efficiency, Economic growth, improve health and reduce population.

Examples of Ecocities

  1. Curitiba, Brazil
  2. Auroville, India
  3. Freiburg, Germany
  4. Stockholm, Sweden
  5. Adelaide, Australia
  6. Masdar City, U.A.E
  7. Tiajin, china

Ecocity development requires:


  • Ecological security – clean air, quality water supply, food, healthy living at homes, workplaces, municipal services and protection from disasters for people.
  • Ecological sanitation – eco-engineering for treatment and recycle of human waste, water, and all wastes to be efficient and cost-effective.
  • Ecological industrial – conservation of resources and protection of environment through industrial transition, reuse of materials, renewable energy, efficient transportation and completion of human needs.
  • Ecological infrastructure – planning of parks, plazas, natural features like ridgelines and waterways, connection of streets, bridges, accessibility of city for all people with conservation of energy and resources, avoiding problems like air pollution, heat island effect, automobile accidents, hydrological deterioration and global warming.
  • Ecological awareness – help people to educate about the environment, responsibility of nature in maintaining of high-quality urban ecosystems.

Ecocity description in basic:

  • Operation of the city with local natural resources and independent in economy.
  • Use of renewable energy for all automobiles and needs with carbon free environment.
  • Giving a well-planned city layout which has streets and road networks giving the priority of pedestrians, cycling and public transportation to break-down carbon emissions.
  • Conserve resources – recycle of waste management system and natural energy source which creates zero-waste.
  • Urban areas to be restored environmentally.
  • Providing affordable housing for all section of socio-economic and ethnic groups. Improvement of job opportunities to all section of people with men, women, minorities and disabled.
  • Support for the agriculture and production.
  • Awareness programs for simple lifestyle choices, use of local and low consumption of   materials usage for the well-being of environment and sustainability.

Examples of smart green cities:

Curitiba, Brazil:

The urban development has started in Curitiba in 1996 featuring of masterplan that has future integration with transportation, public health and urban development. Curitiba plan has parts of urban development with low-density residential housing and green spaces. The city is designed for the transportation of people not for the cars.  The city’s bus system is developed well with more lanes and availability to 90 percent people. The public transportation system is utilized by 45 percent of the people, which has brought down 22 percent of the private automobiles. The city center roads are closed for the cars in prevention of traffic congestion, the road closures have brought good business to the local shops and development of public space for the pedestrians. There is importance given to the public health and education facilities. Curitiba produces lowest air pollution rate in Brazil and over 300,000 trees in city help to protect from flooding. Over 70 percent of the people take part in the waste recycle processing system. Curitiba received Globe Sustainable City Award in the year2010 (Suzuki,2010).

Aurovillie, India:

Aurovillie is in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The project was founded in the year 1968 by Sri Aurobindo group led by Mirra Alfassa, “The Mother”. This project is for the human unity which has been a home to 2,000 individuals for over 45 nations around the world. The place is built with local and sustainable materials. The project focuses on the culture, traditions, use of renewable energy system, restoration of habitat, ecology kills, mindfulness practices and holistic education.

Freiburg, Germany:

It is a home to the Germany’s Green Movement, with the population of 2,00,000. Freiburg located near the borders of France and Switzerland, edge of the Black Forest. The policies came up with the protest on a nuclear plant in 1970. Freiburg has won many national and international environmental awards as a sustainable city. The city is worked on energy, transportation and sustainable development which is renewable energy sources, energy saving and new technology. The city has gained its success by protesting the nuclear plant that has led to sustainable energy solutions. Thus, the agenda came up with environmentalist and research organizations. Freiburg is considered as solar capital, the city has own self-sustaining football stadium with solar energy building. Freiburg has been successful in ecology and economy, with the fields of research and marketing of renewable energy.

The city took an initiative on improving transportation system. City center was rebuilt with similar architectural style and old plan as it was bombed in second world war. The roads were rebuilt with wide lanes for trams and less lanes to cars. Freiburg in 1969 has set plan to traffic management system and cycle path network. The aim is to increase the use of cycle and pedestrian by decreasing the individual mobility and concentrating on public transportation system benefiting environment which is updated every 10 years. The city has its short distances in reaching out the places as it is a compact planned city. The city has 5,000 bicycle parking spaces with 500km of bicycle paths as well as car free centers, with speed limit of 30kph and region of tram and bus facilities. The city has cutdown the use of carbon emissions. The next aim of Freiburg is to cut down carbon emissions to 40 percent by 2030 and to be climate -neutral by 2050. The city has focused on waste management, 80 percent of the paper products are recycled materials. Through all waste management process the non-recycle waste is burnt down and the heat is converted to supply of electricity to 25,000 households in the city. 

2.3 Issues in the Urban Sector

2.3.1 Introduction

In past decades cities have experienced continuous immigration from rural areas hence, the population. Due to this frenetic expansion, cities are facing major concerns relating socio, economic and environment factors.

2.3.2 Issues faced in the Modern cities:

a) Air Quality:

In today’s world most of the cities struggle with the quality of the air due to the overuse of the fossil fuels. Most of the air pollution comes from the vehicles from the transportation ways in throwing out the carbon monoxides into the environment, which keeps the quality of the air to toxic. The factor due to increase in the air pollution is due to lack of green spaces. The use of cars with diesel engines without considering the norms of the emissions level caused the main problem.

The city planning also plays a crucial role in holding the level of the pollution where the cities with proper planning has less pollution when compared with the cities that has congestion of roads and traffic which give out more amount of toxic in air. The cities like Moscow of Russia has the worst congestion throughout the city. Istanbul of Turkey has huge water bodies in the city center which create traffic jams.

 Delhi of India has the more amount of air pollution which has crossed the danger signs. Rome of Italy has the old street network which is not designed for the cars. Paris of France has the congested road networks. All this are the factors in increase of the pollution with lack of Urban planning. Declining air quality comes with the congestion as dangerous gases spread all over the city.

 Cities like Mexico, Delhi, Los Angeles and Beijing has thick smoke in the environment. The dangerous gases like carbon, nitrate, ammonia and sulphates cause lung disease when air inhaled particularly for the asthma patients and causes heart diseases. The harmful particles enter the blood line and causes cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) gives 25 microns as the safe level but most of the cities exceed the level.

b) Climate Change and Global Warming:

 Scientists declared that the northern polar region is melting down at a fast rate which results in the increase of the sea level, the acidification of the ocean increased with absorption of Co2. As the Arctic Sea goes down in thickness the transfer of heat combines from Arctic Ocean and Air, this leads in absorption of incoming solar radiation. The flow of air temperature from Arctic would result in atmosphere circulation. The high-altitude winds are weak due to the warmer air on the North Pole which converts into major change of weather changes to US and Europe.

Due to this effect the ice caps melt down by raise of sea level which in reverse causes high tides, this result shown on the coastal areas with hit of high tides on the roads and low-level areas. The sea comes more front with the raise of sea level which worsens the situation dramatically. According to the report’s scientist given in 2014 are many cities in US and Europe will be experiencing a tough situation with floods due to the raise of sea level in the upcoming years by 2030. Miami is the first major city in the list of US to lose the existence because of climate change the report’s stated by scientists. 

Due to the rapid growth of urbanization, fastening of climate change, and lose of earth surface elevation are making the world to be in dangerous situation with many coastal cities to face the flooding. The coastal cities are designed according to the current situations avoiding the risk factor of flooding and storms but the future planning to face the risk factor is not considered in the design which is devastating. Substantial investments are required for the protection of cities in good planning and structural defense.

In most of the vulnerable cities the poor are at risk due to the fast growth of urbanization which has moved them to the vulnerable neighborhoods which are the low areas without any facilities settled at the flood prone area. These people travel far distances for their daily work where they don’t have a good transportation system and go on their own vehicles which are old with low maintenance produce more pollution.

The World bank asks the cities throughout the world to take quick measures in protecting and taking out the structural defenses. The cities should take evacuation plans and warning systems with the crisis management and quick action plans. The countries with low building capacity in taking out the problems should concentrate in major because if the damage occurs, it hits the economy of the country  where the reconstruction and recovery takes time so the measures are to be taken in major by protecting the people and economy in future.

c) Wealth and Inequality  

The population is continued to increase in the cities as the major factor of migration, which has become a process as the natural increase in population. The cities like Mexico, Delhi, Jakarta, Dhaka has the huge number of migrants with 30 million, where Canada has 35.6 million in the year 2013. In upcoming days throughout Globe there will be more than 1 million residents in 500 cities. Within a period of a century humans have got used to urban from rural life.  

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It’s not only the urban areas growing throughout the world but also the economy too is carried well, as the reports of Wilson Centre 2012 states , urban economy in low income countries is raised up to 55 percent of GDP, middle income countries is raised up to 73 percent of GDP and high income countries have 85 percent of GDP.(Ruble, 2012)

 It is a fact to know that most of great economy is generated by the cities, at the global level the poverty is also high in the urban places. As the cities grow the middle class is in shrink due to the economies based on the technology and knowledge dependent. Inequality is growing high in urban as it’s on the crisis level.

The estimation of UN is that one third of the world’s urban population is in poverty living in slums (UN-HABITAT, 2006). In most of the city’s 100’s of million people doesn’t have the facilities towards clean water, good shelter, planned drainage system, healthy food and access to their needs.

Most of the slum dwellers are in Asia which has come due to the fast-urban growth. The urban poor has increased than the rural rate over last 20 years. Africa faces the most poverty rate, which has the fastest growth of urban and slums in the world. There is double of slum dwellers in sub-Sharan Africa in the last 15 years, where most of the population lives in slum which is to be 75 percent (Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars,2007).

Destruction of ecosystem and Overcrowding has made the urban poor and leads to the spread of diseases. The life of slum dwellers is filled with insecurity and that brings due to the low income and bad conditions.

Economic inequality plays a major role in bringing down the society in different cases like homelessness, criminal behavior and gang violence which makes the subject to side-track making the politicians to deviate from the global issues like climate change. Crime is the main source in bringing down the society or the region to worst conditions from all the developments, economically and physically.

The cities like London, Paris and Vienna which have large number of immigrant’s intake with different cultures and religious face different social issues. Wealth and Inequality has a major effect on the youth who have no connection with the society, they are vulnerable who get exploit for themselves and the problems keep growing globally.

d) Homelessness 

Wealth inequality is the major factor in the cities being a reason for the poor to afford the housing as it is expensive or unavailable housing which leads to homelessness. Homelessness is mainly caused by the unemployment and poverty at the economic level. This is a system which is linked with the political agenda providing shelter for the poor in-terms of Human Rights. The homelessness is the big factor and an issue which is not considered throughout the world, people who don’t have shelter sleep in the parks, on the footpaths, under the bridges or sleep in railway stations, bus stops or in night shelters.

According to the reports over 3 million are homeless in Europe. Nations like UK which are wealthiest have the problems of homelessness. UK nation stand with 4 people in every 1000 to be homeless, though its richest nations and the average life of homeless person is to be 42 years, comparatively its 79 for women and 74 for men according to the national average. It takes £15,000 for every homeless person a year to provide accommodation and support services. Mexico city has 40 percent people living unproper housing, 63 percent of India is in slums, Nigeria has 40 percent in slums, Russia has 5 million homeless people with a million of children in them, up to 2.5 million are homeless in US and Hawaii has one of the high percent of homelessness due to the high cost of housing.

e) City Sprawl (Agglomerations)

As the population grown in cities is more and the city expands in consuming of more land. The satellite pictures say the way urban spaces have extended their wings taking up huge mass of land by increasing two-thirds of the population in half century ago. Due to more intake of the people into the city the center has been extending hundreds of square miles in every direction. Shanghai in the prime example, which is in China, where the city has almost extended to its whole region.

Chapter 3

3.1 Introduction

Sustainable Development Goals

In the beginning of 2000 world leaders gathered in at the UN to envision development that were known as Millennium Development Goals. This framework has helped to develop work for 15 years. However, this framework did not consider environmental issues such as accessibility of clean drinking water, managing of water resources and emission of greenhouse gases.

Therefore, an appeal was made to reframe these Goals in 2015 UN put forth the 2030 agenda of ‘Sustainable Development Goals’. The focus of goals was to consider relation between nature and community. It would also consider social, economic and environmental dimensions widely. UN considered 5Ps People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, Partnership as these aspects are interdependent, they demand integrated thinking and integrated approach to achieve these goals. The planning, architectural and design, will interact with every goal not only in aspirational level but also in prospects. Architectural solutions already helping in contributing to sustainable environment and community for their quality of life. However, the built environment is the bigger challenge to deal with sustainability.

Goal 1

 No Poverty

Architecture cannot lift people out of poverty, but the built environment can affect the impact on poverty of people’s life through access to housing and institutions that are affordable.


The voluntarist homes for homeless children in Pondicherry, India., can accommodate 15 children and 5 foster parents. It has been designed as an experiment using a rare technology developed by Ray Meeker from golden bridge pottery which consists of banking a mud house in Situ, after constructing it. Keeping the cost low has been a very important element in the design, and the technique makes use of local natural resources, making it possible to spend very little money on purchased materials.

Goal 2

 Zero Hunger

The built environment contributes to the security of food supply through planning, landscape design and building complexes that protects existing eco systems and prioritize the preservation and expansion of areas for food production. creating conditions to support sustainable farming must be an integral part of development, also where fertile land is scarce, whether due to urban density, harsh climatic conditions or restricted access. Planning, landscape design and building design can contribute by developing designs that favor land use for food production in many scales.


In Copenhagen and New York, the green house is designed as highly efficient agricultural system, with the capacity to produce 2 to 3 tons of crops per year on only 50sq meter area. This is made possible by hydroponic system, where the crops are cultivated without soil, enabling cultivation to expand upwards across multiple level. Irrigation is sourced from rainwater collection, and water is recirculated within the closed loop system. This method helps in significant savings in the use of fresh waters by 70 to 80% compared to more conventional methods of productions.

Goal 3

Good Health and well being

Most people spend majority of their life indoors, making indoor climate as an influential factor of health. Building design must enable a healthy indoors climate concerning light, acoustics air quality and exposure to radiation. This is important in all building, but so in buildings with vulnerable users, such as hospitals. Building design further should avoid use of hazardous materials and substances. Architecture plays an important role in built environment that supports good health and wellbeing.


 The Magoda project is a series of eight prototype homes constructed in a rural village in Tanga region of Tanzania. This project explores design elements of traditional Asian and African homes to generate a variety of new and improved housing design to minimize diseases.

Goal 4

 Quality Education

Schools and educational spaces are a crucial part of our investment in the future. Whether in a refugee camp, in the slums or in Silicon Valley, access to schools and to education is defining the future of our children. Schools, universities and other educational institutions all require an architecture that enables a productive learning environment, but architecture also has a role to play in creating affordable, accessible and inclusive educational solutions for communities with limited resources for conventional buildings or limited access to an existing school system. Examples of this can be found in designs that enable study at night, such as solar-powered reading lamps for off-grid rural areas, in movable classrooms for the children of migrant workers and in school facilities for minorities. Furthermore, the built environment can provide training opportunities regarding the sustainable performance of buildings, settlements and urban areas for both users and craftsmen. In development, as well as in use, buildings and communal facilities can interact with and promote a sustainable culture of usage.


Frederiksberg School is a public primary and lower secondary school in Aarhus, Denmark, which is designed to promote physical activity. It is one of the first schools designed to meet a Danish law requiring that children should get more exercise during the school day. The team has incorporated physical challenges in the journey from A to B by rethinking the walking areas, the roofs, the classrooms, the halls and the outdoor spaces. In this way the school allows children to get through the day in more than 100 different ways. Also, classrooms have been redesigned, and a staircase for teaching has been introduced instead of traditional tables and chairs, ensuring that the pupils do not sit for too long. Niches and group rooms facilitate space for immersion and collaboration. In order to optimize every sqm of the school for movement, the roof has been designed as a fenced playing field, the terraces function as playgrounds, the teaching areas and roofed outdoor areas are used as workshop space. Customized zones for presentations, group work, and individual studies support the educational and didactic principles making physical activity inevitable. The results are better learning and higher test score.

To support a movement towards gender equality, the design of buildings, settlements and urban areas must be inclusive to all citizens regardless of gender. The organization of public spaces, institutions and services must prioritize the security of girls, women and LGBT+ citizens and help minimize the risk of abuse. The ability to move safely in public spaces, in public institutions and at the workplace is key to the inclusion of women and girls in civil society and to women being able to hold a job outside of their home, which is key to being self-supporting.

Example: A new maternity facility in Kachumbala, Uganda replaces an existing facility, which was unable to accommodate four out of every 10 women who had travelled, often long distances to seek help. The unit includes a new post-delivery 7-bed recovery ward in which new mothers and babies can stay for observation for the WHO-recommended 24- hour period. A family gathering space was incorporated into the design, because women in labor are supported by extended family who travel with them to the maternity unit to help, to cook meals etc. About 92% of the materials used on the project were sourced locally, and only few power tools were used to build it. Hand-made bricks that form the building’s structure was pressed on site, eliminating the need to fell and burn local trees, reducing the amount of cement needed for construction. Electricity and water supply is limited and unstable in the region, and therefore natural ventilation and shading have been a major design driver, featuring a mono-pitch roof design, strategic placement of operable windows, dog run openings and exterior corridors featuring terracotta screens, all contributing to creating cross flow ventilation and shading.

Goal 6

 Clean water and Sanitation

To take advantage of rainfall where clean water is scarce, buildings and urban areas must be designed so that rainwater can be collected, purified and used as drinking water. In areas where rainwater needs not be collected for drinking water, buildings and urban areas must be designed so that rainwater can enter the groundwater without being mixed with wastewater or being polluted in other ways. Furthermore, urban areas, settlements and buildings must be designed to withstand climate change related to water, such as more extreme precipitation, drought and floods. Landscape architecture and urban planning must protect freshwater resources through conservation projects and the design of recreational areas that protect, collect and handle water.

Goal 7

 Affordable and clean energy

The built environment is a major source of energy consumption and a potentially crucial energy producer. Buildings must be designed both to limit energy consumption, for example by using materials and layouts that minimize overheating, and to produce and recycle energy, for example by storing excess heat during the day and employing it at night. This means designing and constructing buildings, settlements and urban areas that employ appropriate energy technology under given geographical, climatic and cultural conditions. Examples of this can be the use of daylight, natural ventilation or a choice of materials that support heating or cooling, such as heavy exterior walls in a hot and dry climate. The built environment can also contribute through the development of solutions that employ innovative sources of renewable energy.

Goal 8

Decent work and Economic Growth

The built environment interacts with decent work and economic growth on both a planning level and on a building level. Safe public spaces and affordable transit routes to the workplace are crucial for finding employment. The ability to move from home to a workplace, and the time spent in transit, determine what jobs are available, making public space and transportation systems key to citizens’ access to work. Cities and settlements must also be planned and designed so that poor and marginalized citizens have access to a business outlet, such as a marketplace, where local produce, handicrafts and other services can be bought and sold. Workplaces must be designed so that they support healthy and productive work environments for employees. Investing in good working conditions back a company’s economic growth through higher productivity and fewer sick days.

Goal 9

 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure

The building industry is producing massive amounts of waste and is consuming large amounts of natural resources and energy. Advancing sustainability in the built environment requires a development of industry and industrial infrastructure away from current practice towards new ways of producing and assembling. We must develop our industry, its services, products and transportation systems, to pollute less, tie up less energy, produce less waste, and provide solutions that are safer and healthier than current standards.

Goal 10

 Reduced inequalities

The built environment can act as an amplifier and enforcer of inequalities. Disabled citizens risk being confined in their homes or unable to hold a job because stairs, steps and other design features can make streets, transportation systems and institutions inaccessible. Religious and ethnic minorities, LGBT+ citizens and women experience being confined to designated areas or secluded from educational institutions and leisure facilities. Landscape qualities like a beach or a view can be closed to the public through design and planning that make them accessible only to owners or customers. To reduce inequalities, architecture must be designed and executed so that it is socially responsible, inclusive and take into consideration the needs of all members of society, leaving no one behind. Buildings, settlements and urban areas must be designed with accessibility as a core functionality, from ensuring even surfaces, lifts and ramps and wayfinding features to giving attention to doorways and the height of utilities.

Goal 11

 Sustainable cities and communities

 Cities are known as hubs for commerce, culture, science, productivity, ideas, development and more. The sustainable development goals target 2030 with well-organized urban planning and proper administration.

There are quite many challenges that are prevailing in cities such as rise in air pollution, urban sprawls, scarcity of land, not adequate infrastructure facilities, shortage of basic amenities, overpopulation, contamination of water, poverty, etc.



Why it matters?

The world is urbanizing rapidly, more than half of the world population have shifted to cities because of the availability of jobs and other amenities. They generate the economy and consume a lot of energy. These cities are badly affected by climate change due to the high population.

Other issues such as poverty, inequality, and security are some of the major concerns of the city today. There is an immediate need to take majors regarding this as it can affect overall development.

Properly planned urbanization is necessary to eradicate development of slums, land and traffic congestion, urban sprawls and pollution these problems further affects the life expectancy. Well-developed communities can increase productivity, improve quality of life, social stability and environment-friendly ways to live life. It is a lifelong deal.


Urban planning strategies with a proper network of roads, affordable housing for all, services and ample amount of public spaces. Measures were taken for safety and security, waste management, improving the capacity of people living in the city.


Before implementing this agenda and aspirations for the sustainable and globally smart city there is a necessity to create an effective framework. It is essential to make technology-based interventions to establish the standards for the future.

United nations have provided basic principles for a better urban future. (united 4 smart sustainable cities)

  • Addressing rapid urbanization, urban poverty, and proliferation of slums.
  • Addressing sustainable urban development and climate change
  • Addressing urban crimes and violence.
  • Addressing post-conflicts and post-disaster situations.

 “Bridging the Green and Brown Agendas”

  • To strive for carbon-neutral cities.
  • Development of renewable energy.
  • distribution of power and water supply.
  • More spaces as green infrastructure.
  • Improving eco-efficiency
  • Increasing sense of place
  • Sustainable transport
  • Developing cities without slums

Aims for “Linking Spatial Planning to Urban Infrastructure”

  • Smart growth and transit orient development.
  • Integrating land use and transportation
  • Strategic spatial planning and infrastructure planning
  • Integrated urban management and development plans
  • Strategic structure planning
  • Linking spatial planning to infrastructure planning
  • Linking mega-projects and major infrastructural developments to spatial planning.

Goal 12

 Responsible Consumption and Production

When buildings are demolished most of the value of the existing materials and components are lost. The same applies to renovations, which transform vast amounts of materials to waste. Even the process of constructing new buildings is producing waste, from cut-off bits of gypsum board over discarded formwork and the wrapping, components are delivered in, to materials damaged by weather or mistreatment.

Goal 13

 Climate action

The CO₂ footprint of the built environment must be reduced, and buildings and settlements must be adapted to the changing climate. The CO₂ impact of buildings, settlements and cities must be reduced fast. We can achieve reductions through energy renovations, by integrating renewable energy production in buildings, by expanding sustainable transportation infrastructures, by reducing transport of building materials, and by emphasizing the use of local and renewable materials. Furthermore, the design of new buildings can optimize climatic comfort with a minimum of energy consumption for heating, cooling and lighting. This requires consideration of the local climate, and design with natural light, natural ventilation and the thermal properties of building structures.

Goal 14

 Life below water

Most of the built environment is situated on land, but its activities affect the oceans. The building industry affects the oceans through transport of building materials at sea, while existing settlements and cities discharge wastewater and other waste to the oceans. To help preserve life under water, we must reduce transport of building materials and components over long distances by sea through the development of local industries and production facilities. Furthermore, we must abolish plastic wrapping of materials and components to reduce the sources of non-degradable waste that ends up in the oceans.

Goal 15

Life on land

The amount of buildings, settlements and cities taking up land is rapidly growing. Ecosystems and biodiversity are under intense pressure due to growing cities and settlements, farming, mining and the changing climate. To protect, restore and support ecosystems and biodiversity, buildings and settlements must include habitats for plants, insects and animals. This means that

green-field developments should be kept to a minimum and that planning, and development of all new settlements must ensure sustainable conditions for local ecosystems, flora and fauna. Nature networks that allow plant life should be developed in existing settlements and urban areas, so that insects and animals can co-exist with the built environment. Examples are found at all scales, from pocket parks and insect hotels to large-scale planning projects to establish nature networks in big cities. Every city is built by many hands, and similarly we need to work together to reach the 17 sustainable development goals, as no single stakeholder can reach them alone. The challenge of achieving the goals requires the involvement of all; from governments and institutional actors to researchers, businesses and citizens. Architects, designers and planners can contribute by sharing knowledge, promoting sustainable solutions and engage in collaboration with research and institutional partners, to develop and implement sustainable solutions.

Chapter 5

Bibliography and References

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  • Ey.com. (2019). Why we need to future proof our cities for sustainability. [online] Available at: https://www.ey.com/en_gl/growth/why-we-need-to-future-proof-our-cities-for-sustainability [Accessed 13 May 2019].
  • Oxfam Living. (2019). 5 essential features of sustainable cities and eco-cities | Oxfam Living. [online] Available at: https://www.oxfam.org.au/oxfamliving/2017/08/21/5-essential-features-of-sustainable-cities-and-eco-cities/ [Accessed 13 May 2019].
  • Wikipedia Contributors (2015). Talk:Global warming/Archive 67. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Global_warming/Archive_67 [Accessed 21 Jul. 2019].
  • Petroff, A. (2013). World’s 10 most congested cities. [online] CNNMoney. Available at: https://money.cnn.com/gallery/news/2013/11/06/global-traffic-congestion/index.html [Accessed 21 Jul. 2019].
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