Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

David Talbot

A View from David Talbot

Digital Summit: How to Build Livable Megacities

The key to smarter cities might not be technology, but the existence of dense central zones made for walking.

  • June 10, 2014

Cities have sprung up to serve many purposes, such as commerce and manufacturing, but the key to making them more innovative could be simply to make them more livable and walkable.

In the coming decades, much of the population growth will happen in cities; by 2050 some 75 percent of the world’s population is expected to be living in them. People’s daily lives should be the main focus, says Kent Larson, an architect who directs the MIT Media Lab’s Changing Places Group. “If you design for living, you’re going to get the good stuff: the eco-friendly, green, low-carbon city,” and more innovation will spring out of the interactions of the people living and working there, Larson said Tuesday at the MIT Technology Review Digital Summit in San Francisco.

Larson argues that a few features will make highly dense but livable cities possible. One is urban farming, which could involve adding a lightweight “skin” to buildings where crops can grow in a process that is 100 times more land-efficient than conventional farming, and also uses much less water and produces much less carbon dioxide. In China alone, “you have 250 million people moving to cities, mostly farmers, and they’ll need jobs, so it’s a no-brainer,” he said.

Transportation is ripe for overhaul, too; Larson envisions micro-scale cars that can be shared, allowing for a 50-fold benefit in how much land is actually needed to accommodate parking, he said. And there could be micro-scale housing units, such as 200-square-foot apartments with various sliding units so that beds, dining room tables, and even bathrooms can expand and collapse.

Countdown to EmTech Digital 2019. Join us and be the AI leader your company needs.

Register now
More from Business Impact

How technology advances are changing the economy and providing new opportunities in many industries.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Print + All Access Digital.
  • Print + All Access Digital {! insider.prices.print_digital !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The best of MIT Technology Review in print and online, plus unlimited access to our online archive, an ad-free web experience, discounts to MIT Technology Review events, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    6 bi-monthly issues of print + digital magazine

    10% discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    Ad-free website experience

    The Download: newsletter delivery each weekday to your inbox

    The MIT Technology Review App

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.