The future of cities

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Cities may occupy just 2 per cent of the earth’s land surface, but they are home to more than half of the world’s population and generate 80 per cent of all economic output. And their dominance is growing: by 2045, an extra 2 billion people will live in urban areas.

At Pictet, we think it will put pressure on infrastructure, resources and the environment.

Encouragingly, those responsible for planning and building the urban centres of the future are up to the challenge. Worldwide, authorities are working ever more closely with the private sector in an effort to make our cities safer, more sustainable and better connected.

That’s good news for the planet.

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Driverless cars could free up land for more housing

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Look, no hands! Big car and technology companies such as BMW, Apple and Google are investing in driverless technology.

Widespread adoption of driverless cars would release thousands of acres of land for new housing and reduce the strain on transport infrastructure, according to research published today.

The report, centred on Edinburgh, suggests that congestion is costing the city more than £300 million a year in lost time and autonomous vehicles would help to trim that figure.

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Study: Decentralized microgrids can provide 90% or a neighborhood’s energy needs

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“The new approach could even pave the way for 100 percent self-sufficiency in power, heat, and water.”

A new report funded by the Dutch government finds that microgrid technologies could make a local “techno-economy” 90 percent self-sufficient, through the decentralized sharing of energy at the local level between multiple households.

This report adds fuel to efforts by the Siemens Corporation to design better microgrids and promote their efficiencies.

The new approach could even pave the way for “100 percent self-sufficiency in power, heat, and water, and 50 percent self-sufficiency in food production”, according to the report’s author, energy systems engineer Florijn de Graaf.

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Cities will automate first. We should prepare now

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Three robotic arms move brushes languidly across canvases as the glass eyes of cameras gaze ahead. The robots are painting a still life—lit with a tarnished black standing lamp—of a stuffed fox, a bird perched on a branch, a skull in the center, and a seashell to the side.

This summer in Paris, it is not only the clutch of international travelers filling the museums, but robotic visitors as well. The Grande Palais is hosting an exhibit called “Artistes and Robots” that features works created via artificial intelligence and robotic hosts. Elsewhere, AI-produced art is growing increasingly indistinguishable from the “real thing.” Since 2016, teams of programmers have competed in an annual RobotArt competition (here are this year’s finalists), and robot-made art will go on sale at the Seattle Art Fair this summer, alongside works that came solely from human hands.

This partnership between human and machine is what lies ahead as automation tools permeate our lives at a quickening pace. As many worry about the potential for robots to steal our jobs (or lead a violent overthrow of society), the reality may be more nuanced: They may end up being something more like creative collaborators, much like these robotic artists on display.

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Google is building a city of the future in Toronto. Would anyone want to live there?

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It could be the coolest new neighborhood on the planet—or a peek into the Orwellian metropolis that knows everything you did last night.

TORONTO—Even with a chilly mid-May breeze blowing off Lake Ontario, this city’s western waterfront approaches idyllic. The lake laps up against the boardwalk, people sit in colorful Adirondack chairs and footfalls of pedestrians compete with the cry of gulls. But walk east, and the scene quickly changes. Cut off from gleaming downtown Toronto by the Gardiner Expressway, the city trails off into a dusty landscape of rock-strewn parking lots and heaps of construction materials. Toronto’s eastern waterfront is bleak enough that Guillermo del Toro’s gothic film The Shape of Water used it as a plausible stand-in for Baltimore circa 1962. Says Adam Vaughan, a former journalist who represents this district in Canada’s Parliament, “It’s this weird industrial land that’s just been sitting there—acres and acres of it. And no one’s really known what to do with it.”

Continue reading… “Google is building a city of the future in Toronto. Would anyone want to live there?”

Wellness real estate has blossomed into a $134 billion industry worldwide- and it’s growing fast

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From personalized wellness programs to fitness-focused apps, luxury homes are focusing on making residents feel better

It’s the non-stop pace of our digital lives. An increasingly isolated and aging population. Rising chronic illness. Climate change. Given the pressures of the modern world, a gym membership and taking the occasional “mental health day” often just aren’t enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

One way to achieve optimum wellness, experts and developers say, is by choosing a home that is designed for it.

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Florida’s ‘city of the future’ is first solar-powered town in America

Developers hope Babcock Ranch will become America’s first self-sustaining city; Phil Keating reports on the progress.Video

America’s first solar community coming to life in Florida

Developers hope Babcock Ranch will become America’s first self-sustaining city; Phil Keating reports on the progress.

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Designed for a community of tech elites, these tiny homes are 3D printed, run by Tesla batteries, and cost $250,000

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A 609-acre California coastal community, Walden Monterey, serves as a respite for those needing to recharge their batteries — especially the region’s leaders in tech.

The enclave’s founder, Nick Jekogian, invites potential homeowners to visit the property and stay in portable homes, called “roving rooms,” to truly experience the sustainable, outdoor-centric lifestyle the community has to offer.

Now, a new unit, called the Galini Sleeping Pod, will be used to house prospective buyers as they consider making a more permanent purchase of the land.

Continue reading… “Designed for a community of tech elites, these tiny homes are 3D printed, run by Tesla batteries, and cost $250,000”

Pipe dreams: can ‘nano apartments’ solve Hong Kong’s housing crisis?

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The city with the world’s tiniest and costliest living spaces may soon convert drainpipes into homes. The aim is to get young people on the property ladder – but how small is too small?

“Both indoors and out, life in Hong Kong can feel pretty suffocating at times,” says 39-year-old finance worker Wai Li, who rents a 200 sq ft (19 sq m) “nano flat” by herself in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan neighbourhood. Li’s living area is little more than the size of two standard Hong Kong parking spaces.

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The coming jobs apocalypse

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Congress and the Trump administration have yet to create a coherent policy response to a widely forecast social and economic tsunami resulting from automation, including the potential for decades of flat wages and joblessness. But cities and regions are starting to act on their own.

What’s happening: In Indianapolis, about 338,000 people are at high risk of automation taking their jobs, according to a new report. In Phoenix, the number is 650,000. In both cases, that’s 35% of the workforce. In northeastern Ohio, about 40,000 workers are at high risk.

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These Uber Air ‘Skyport’ concepts look straight out of Star Wars

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If Uber is to get its “flying taxi” service off the ground, it will need dozens of launchpads and landing sites on rooftops around cities as a supportive infrastructure. At the ride-hailing company’s second annual Elevate conference in Los Angeles, six architecture firms presented their winning designs of what these so-called “Skyports” could look like. And holy cow, these things look straight out of Star Wars.

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The new magnetism of mid-size cities

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For many millennials, second cities are becoming their first choice.

If, 10 years ago, you had asked 28-year-old Sarah Luckett Bhatia if she’d eventually return to her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, she “would have laughed in your face.”

Even just a few years ago, the prospects of coming home to Derby City would have seemed slim. Bhatia moved to Chicago for school, studied at Columbia College, and immediately got a job in corporate planning and strategy. Like many 20-somethings, she steered her life and career trajectory toward big cities and the opportunities they promised.

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