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Your Future City? | Six new visions for the green city of tomorrow

By Colin Griffin

At the 1964 New York World's Fair, General Motors unveiled a utopian vision of what the world would be like 60 years in the future. With fingers crossed, GM predicted a metropolis replete with fossil fuel–powered modes of transportation that would take humans wherever they desired to go: to the Arctic and into the deep oceans (ripe with more fossil fuel, of course) and to space. Smiling families would rumble down pristine superhighways while friendly robots would clear pesky rainforest with laser beams. Urbanites would drift to work on moving sidewalks and catch jets to grab lunchtime burgers on the moon. With fossil fuels, new technology, and unbridled human spirit, the city of the future would know no bounds. So much for that.

Thankfully, our notion of what a city can be has changed a bit since 1964. At a minimum, we no longer aspire to raze critical tropical habitat with lasers to free up space for strip malls. But our futures will continue to be urban, with more than 80 percent of Europeans, North Americans, and South Americans living in cities (and a world population of 8 billion) in 2025. Our cities, though, can be environmentally sustainable. Here are some new visions of the green city of tomorrow, from colossal dragonfly-wing skyscrapers to spherical urban greenhouses.

Stupefaction Factor:
1 = Pleasant rooftop garden
10 = Self-propelled underwater metropolis shaped like a manta ray

Fantasy Factor:
1 = Invest in this project now
10 = Will be constructed as soon as funds arrive from the end of the rainbow


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