Driverless cars, electric cars and transport infrastructure projects, such as Hyperloop, will radically change our cities over the next fifty years, opening up opportunities to improve the built environment and create more green space and new leisure districts.
Anticipating the retreat of the internal combustion engine from our lives, architects Gensler have partnered with Reebok to reimagine gas stations as wellness hubs, with the creation of a concept called Get Pumped which would see them offering electric car charging, along with workouts and healthy living services.
Gensler’s Alfred Byun said: “We envision our cities of the future to have a network of fitness oases between home and work [housed in redundant gas stations], where you could stop and recharge more than just your car. Imagine an option to leave the traffic jam to unwind with yoga, get your Crossfit Fix, or pick up a green juice and your weekly farm shop all in one place.”
Others are considering how these changes will impact our cityscapes and speaking on page 72 of this issue of CLADmag, landscape architect Martha Schwartz says “When cars become automated, there’ll be more space on the roads, so city streets could be repurposed as forests. This could cut back on energy use, as it would help to cool houses naturally, would soak up run-off water and prevent flooding, as well as improving and greening the environment.”
This approach has wider implications, as environmentalists are increasingly focusing on tree planting initiatives in the battle to contain and eventually reverse the impact of climate change.
Scientists say that if we can plant enough trees, their carbon capture capabilities will keep global warming below 1.5 degrees for long enough to buy us time to identify workable solutions.
Around the world, huge reforestation initiatives are underway. In India, 66m trees were planted in 12 hours in 2017 as part of a record-breaking environmental campaign involving 1.5m people. In Africa, the Great Green Wall project will see a 15km-wide forest planted across 11 countries and China will plant forests covering an area the size of Ireland this year as it increases forest coverage to 23 percent of its landmass.
Every tree counts and as we fight to arrest rising temperatures, transition towards clean energy and away from a reliance on fossil fuels, we must ensure that every scheme includes tree-planting to ensure we play our part in saving the planet.