the growth that gave the name to the green line dividing west and east beirut, 1982, overtaking the then-uninhabitable area.
Tiara Tuesday - Lady Hesketh’s Aquamarines and Diamonds, circa 1910 (Estate of Christian)
Large-scale arcologies are emerging as an alternative to traditional cities
The global convergence of environmental issues and resource depletion has forced humanity to drastically readdress the way urban areas are designed. The refugee crisis that emerged in the mid-21st century has now largely subsided, with much of civilization having been relocated to the polar regions of Northern Europe, Russia, Canada and Western Antarctica. In order to accommodate so many people in such a smaller area, cities have become increasingly dense and self-contained.
However, decades of concerted geoengineering efforts have led to success in stabilising global temperatures. Combined with ongoing population pressures, this has prompted governments to begin repopulating some of the abandoned regions in more central latitudes. Despite this progress, most countries still face the problems of resettling hyper-arid, ecologically-ravaged environments. As such, long-hypothesised “arcologies” have begun to emerge as a radical departure from traditional urbanism, condensing an entire city into one massive structure.*
The precedent for these mega-structures could be seen as far back as the 2020s, with completion of the first centrally-planned, truly sustainable cities.**Later in the 21st century, these principles were adapted for the development of single structures – resulting in supertall skyscrapers that combined vertical farming with residential and commercial space, recycling and production systems for energy, water and other resources.*
By the 22nd century, these towers have evolved into some of the mightiest structures ever built: of such immense volume that some cover several kilometres in girth, typically rise over 1.5 kilometres in height* and accommodate millions of people.** Some are partially or fully merged into mountainsides and other landscapes – resembling enormous ant colonies, and living up to their portmanteau of “architecture” and “ecology”. This scale of engineering has been made possible through advances in materials science, with carbon nanotubes utilised to cope with the massive forces involved. The sheer size and strength of arcologies makes them virtually immune to earthquakes, hurricanes and other disasters.
Each of these self-contained structures holds everything it needs for human survival. Automation is ubiquitous with intelligent robots managing almost all construction and maintenance.* Highly efficient transport systems are located throughout to move travellers horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Advancements in elevator technology have made lifts capable of whisking riders up in a single trip – no matter what height – as opposed to changing halfway up.* This has been accomplished through improved cable design and, more recently, the use of electromagnetic propulsion.* This kind of hyper-dense urban environment allows movement around a city at speeds unheard of in previous centuries.
These radical new designs exemplify an overall trend in recent human development: low environmental impact. Globally, cities and their connecting infrastructure are slowly being retracted, giving over more land to nature. Advances in transportation and civil engineering, combined with nano-scale manufacturing, are enabling humans to operate with little or no impact on the environment. Though classically designed cities still exist, the arcology represents a fundamental shift in the balance between humans and nature.
"Bloom": VLISCO’s Spring 2014 Lookbook.
In their latest Spring 2014 lookbook, Vlisco, the Dutch Wax clothing and textile brand with a strong presence in West and Central Africa, reinterprets florals with their appropriately titled ‘Bloom’ collection.