Cities Of The Future Being Built
From artificial islands to underground metropolises, here are the most amazing cities of the future in development!Design
Cities can feel like giant, permanent things. We tend to think of New York City and the Grand Canyon as two colossal American relics but in reality, New York was only created 358 years ago whereas the Grand Canyon is closer to six million years old.
New cities are springing up all the time, and the ones of the future will look nothing like today’s. From artificial islands to underground metropolises, let's explore some of the most amazing cities of the future in development!
The Line, Saudi Arabia
If you’ve ever walked the streets of an old city like London or Athens, you’ve probably enjoyed the vast amounts of history and culture on display and flipped out after Google Maps told you the fastest way to a museum was to walk through a canal.
Old cities are charming, but hundreds of years of evolving sprawl can be hard to navigate. This is the exact problem Saudi Arabia hope to address with their insane new future-city: the Line.
Rather than a series of buildings of varying heights, the Line will essentially be two long buildings built in a line, right through the desert of the country’s Tabuk province. This mono-building will be 105 miles long, 1640 feet tall, and 656 feet wide.
For perspective, imagine if the Empire State building was about as wide as two football fields and was nearly twice as long as the Panama Canal! The Line will be the first development in the UAE’s $500 billion Neom project, a long-term plan for the country to build new cities and develop old ones.
Once it’s finished, the Line will be able to house an estimated 9 million people, but don’t expect to see it anytime soon, as construction is expected to take as long as 50 years.
A benefit of the Line’s unique design is that there are no roadways, and the city has done away with any reliance on cars entirely. Instead, the Line will rely on a series of frequent high-speed rails. These rails will apparently be able to take you from one end of the line to the other in just 20 minutes, meaning they’d be traveling around 300 miles per hour!
Additionally, the Line is being designed so that a pedestrian would never be more than five minutes away from amenities or two minutes away from nature, which is a noble goal. However, it’ll be hard to achieve verdant green and avoid your residents developing crippling sunlight deficiencies what with the enormous, mirrored, sun-blocking walls 656 feet away from each other.
Egypt's New Capital
As a unified country, Egypt has existed for over 5100 years, and for over 1000 of those years Cairo has been its capital. In 2015, however, the Egyptian government revealed their plans to construct an all-new capital city, 28 miles away from Cairo.
While the New Administrative Center is currently unnamed, one thing is definitely on the agenda: a massive scale up. The new capital will boast the Middle East’s largest cathedral, a central park six times the size of New York’s, impressive skyscrapers, two mega-mosques and the world’s largest flagpole, which currently measures in at 662 feet.
Of course, a scale up of this size doesn’t come cheap, and Egypt is expecting to spend an eye-watering $45 billion on the construction of this new capital. That’s more than the entire GDPs of Iceland, Jamaica, and Sierra Leone combined!
The reason behind the pricey spend is supposedly to attract more high and middle-income families to the country, as well as lessen the burden on Cairo, which currently has a population of nearly 10 million people.
Despite the scale of its ambitions, price, and flagpole, the New Administrative Capital is not without its controversies. For starters, history has shown that building giant, new, expensive capitals is a huge risk.
Burma, for instance, spent somewhere in the realm of $5 billion constructing its massive new capital of Naypyidaw but wasn’t able to convince people to pack up and move there. Nearly a decade later, the enormous city is still mostly empty.
Secondly, the minimum wage in Egypt is only around $127 a month, and with fairly lax labor laws, the folks actually constructing the city are likely to be working in rough conditions in the cruel Egyptian heat which can reach 50°C in some regions.
As for the enormous park, it turns out it’s hard to create a lush, green environment in the desert. In fact, you need an unbelievable amount of water to make it happen, and considering North African countries are some of the most water-scarce on the planet, many feel it’s not the wisest use of resources.
Whether it turns out to be a disaster or a breath of fresh air, the new capital is set to be complete by 2030. Well, what’s another ten years or so in the 5130-year grand scheme of things?
Kuwait's Silk City
The Great Silk Road was a series of trade networks that enriched Eurasia for hundreds of years and, to celebrate that legacy, Kuwait is currently constructing Madinat al-Hareer, or The City of Silk.
The city is set to cost Kuwait a staggering $132 billion, but considering the country is the third richest in the Arab states and the 17th richest in the entire world, the price tag shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
If anything, the purpose of Madinat seems to be to show off Kuwait’s fortune and be as lavish as possible. It certainly isn’t for something silly, like people, as the entire city will only house around 700,000 residents, less than a 3rd of Kuwait’s capital city.
At the center of Madinat al-Hareer, constructed on an artificial island within a river, will stand the Burj al-Kabir. This enormous skyscraper will be the tallest in the world upon completion with a height of 3284 feet.
That’s taller than the height of the Petronas twin towers stacked on top of each other! The height of the tower is 1001 meters exactly, which is a nod towards the classic 1001 Arabian Nights folktale.
Construction of Madinat al-Hareer will take place over four distinct phases. The first phase, the construction of a grand port along the coast, is currently underway. The next three stages will include the construction of a financial district and stock exchange, the construction of a cultural district for art and entertainment, and an ecological district dedicated to parks and natural beauty.
The final completion date of Madinat al-Hareer is expected to be sometime in 2044. It’s hoped that the development of Madinat will help diversify Kuwait’s economy, which is currently 70% dependent on oil. Maybe it’s time Kuwait went back to its roots.
Port City Colombo
In the close future millions of people in Sri Lanka will be living in the middle of the ocean. And no, that’s not a depressing joke about climate change. Rather, the country is hard at work on a brand-new Port City, built just outside the current capital of Colombo.
The $14 billion city, which is scheduled to be completed in 2041, aims to maintain some of Sri Lanka’s natural beauty and will feature numerous tropical-themed parks and beaches. What’s most impressive about Port City, however, is the fact that it’s built on reclaimed land.
This is the process of dredging sand and sediment from the sea, combining it with larger rocks and cement so it becomes more compact, and using it as the basis for an entirely new island! Amazingly, this means that the structure the city has now was nothing but ocean just fifteen years ago.
Port City will be a special economic zone or SEZ, the first in Sri Lanka. This is an area in a country that operates under different financial regulations than the rest of the country. SEZ’s are typically installed to attract foreign investment and facilitate financial growth.
Sri Lanka is already advertising a 70% reduction in cost-of-business expenses within Port City.
While many SEZs, such as China’s Shenzhen and Guangdong provinces, have proven successful, they aren’t a sure bet. Managing different regulations is tricky and can lead to the exploitation of the local populace, with countries like India and Russia having experienced very mixed results with their SEZs.
Still, China has faith in Port City, as they’ve invested $1.4 billion into its development, in the hopes of fostering good relations with Sri Lanka. Does it smell like ‘trade domination’ to anyone else?
What does the UAE have a lot of? Sand, oil, enormous skyscrapers and, most importantly, sunlight; and that’s a fact they aim to take advantage of. The UAE are hard at work constructing Masdar City, their $22 billion city of the future.
Like a number of other future cities in development, Masdar City has completely banned civil designers and engineers from incorporating cars into the plans at all. While Masdar City may be doing away with cars, the city will apparently feature some electric, driverless pods.
While they’re neat-looking and certainly futuristic, you can probably still call them cars. The autonomous pods will drive along predetermined routes and can reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour, though for daily use they’re not expected to exceed 15 miles per hour.
The city is being constructed from the ground up around the concepts of computing and AI, for which the UAE hopes the city will become known for. Work is underway on an enormous central university which will focus on AI development and programming education.
Additionally, Masdar City is also supposed to sport an IT-themed amusement park. Masdar City will also seek to take advantage of the clear, bright weather the UAE sports most of the year with a huge solar park that will provide the city with almost all of its power.
Moreover, in addition to harnessing as much renewable power as possible, villas in Masdar City are designed to be incredibly energy efficient and will use up to 72% less energy than a conventional home. While work began in 2008, Masdar City will likely not be completed until 2030.
GIFT City, Gujarat
India boasts a population of 1.41 billion people as of April 2023, which is over a fifth of Earth’s current total population of 7.7 billion. That already impressive number is expected to increase to 1.68 billion by 2050, surpassing China as the most populous country in the world.
To prepare for this influx, India is ramping up construction, building over 100 new developments, including the Gujarat International Financial Tech city or GIFT, for short. Built along a river between Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad, GIFT is intended to be a smart city.
This means as many systems within the city as possible will be computerized and accessible via smart devices. Altering the water, electricity, or even the sewerage in your apartment would be as simple as swiping right.
India is hoping that GIFT City will replace Mumbai as the nation’s principle financial hub, with the UN and IMF world banks already set to open offices in the city. This smart city is predicted to cost India around $7.5 billion, which isn’t that much for a futuristic city.
This is because GIFT City will be shockingly small, comprised of just 886 acres total. That means the whole city will only be a little bigger than Central Park in New York! To compensate for its cozy size, GIFT will feature a number of skyscrapers that will be stuffed full of over 25,000 smart homes, the highest of which being the 1345-foot-tall Diamond Tower.
It’s hoped that living in a tall, densely packed city will have various environmental and quality-of-life benefits for residents. This is because no destination within the city will be more than a short stroll away, drastically cutting down on pollution and congestion. If you really can’t spare the 20-minute walk, though, regular public transportation will make commutes to-and-from mere minutes long.
While current construction doesn’t look quite as impressive as the grand concept art, GIFT City isn’t set to be completed before 2024. If it’s successful, it could pave the way for more micro-cities in the future.
Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town
The American suburb is idyllic, quiet, and peaceful. Although the endless rows of identical houses feel somewhat manufactured, there's also the lack of public spaces and reliance on cars; but for the most part it’s affordable! And Panasonic’s Fujisawa group are hoping to bring this layout to many other countries!
Rather than a grand metropolis or artificial island, Fujisawa’s vision of the future is smaller, tidier, and more uniform. This is the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town, and there’s a chance one might be popping up near you soon.
The goal in the creation of the Sustainable Smart Town was to create a set of blueprints for a suburb that could, essentially, be copy-and-pasted and quickly built in any part of the world. While that may sound crazy, it’s not an entirely new concept. The US actually built a number of prefabricated towns during the economic and population boom shortly after WW2!
The Sustainable part of the SST comes from Fujisawa’s self-imposed goals during the design stage of the project. They wanted to greatly reduce the amount of energy and water consumed per unit compared with a regular home and ensure that houses were powered at least 30% from renewable sources. This is partly produced by an extensive network of solar panels along the roofs of the houses.
Fujisawa predict that their smart towns would be between 300 and 600 homes per town, and would include buildings for health, day-care, and neighborhood safety; the employees of which would all work for Fujisawa. Feels like something out of a Black Mirror episode, if you ask me!
Regardless, Panasonic are convinced that this is what all towns will look like in 100 years. Imagine, a suburbia that stretches into the horizon. Well, that might not be everyone’s dream living situation, and if you're one of them, maybe the next city will be more up your street.
Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid
Japan is a country of incredible natural beauty, from the quiet serenity of Hokkaido’s blue pond to the breath-taking majesty of Mount Fuji, Japan’s environment is a marvel to behold. Shame it hates people! As beautiful as Japan can be, the country is, unfortunately, right next to the intersection of four tectonic plates.
That means Japan is tragically susceptible to natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis whenever one of these plates experiences so much as hiccups. Throughout Japan’s history, it’s been at the mercy of these disasters, which have unfortunately caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage to its cities over the decades.
One structural solution to this that has been put forward is the depthscraper. Imagine the opposite of a skyscraper; an enormous hole dug deep into the earth, into which an enormous building is slowly lowered. Rather than having stories that tower into the sky, the depthscraper’s floors would stretch deep into the Earth.
Unlike skyscrapers, depthscrapers are not at risk of toppling or being crushed by other buildings in the event of an earthquake. And the first real concept design proposed for this was put forward in the 1930’s.
The entire structure was focused around a cylindrical, 35-story depthscraper in the heart of Tokyo, which used a giant mirror that also doubled up as a lid to direct sunlight down into the building below.
Sadly, it was never built due to a series of economic and political setbacks, but it went on to inspire the settings of animes like Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Tokyo 3. While this may seem a little sci-fi, it’s downright grounded compared to the Shimizu Group’s solution: introducing the Tokyo Megacity, an enormous city housed entirely in a pyramid.
The mega-pyramid, first proposed back in 1982, would be large enough to house an entire city of one million people. In order to achieve such a feat, the pyramid will be 7000 feet tall, twice the height of the Burj Khalifa, the current tallest building in the world, and make up three square miles of space.
Pyramids are some of the sturdiest isometric shapes in nature, it’s why the ones in Egypt have lasted thousands of years, and the Shimizu group theorize this shape will remain undaunted by earthquakes.
Of course, Shimizu don’t expect work on the pyramid to begin soon. According to Shimizu, our understanding of carbon nanotubing just isn’t advanced enough yet. Carbon nanotubes are microscopic fabrics which have roughly 100 times the tensile strength of steel and are essential in the construction of mega-projects like the pyramid.
However, Shimizu estimates that by 2030 our tech may have caught up to the dream, and work can begin. Still being depressingly realistic, however, Shimizu again state that construction would likely take at least 80 years, meaning best-case scenario, we might be able to retire there.
Though the Mega-Pyramid is indeed impressive, consider that Tokyo’s current population is 37 million. That would mean it would take 37 pyramids and 111 square miles to house Tokyo’s population. The pyramid field would save space considering Tokyo is 847 square miles. And if they stacked them, they could fit in even more!
City Of Telosa
America is a land of dreams and ambitions. Some want to start their own business, some want to retire to Hawaii, and some want to use the fortune they acquired from sheathing baby poop to create a libertarian desert utopia, quite specifically like billionaire Marc Lore.
Lore made his fortune as the former president of Walmart’s e-commerce division, as the founder of travel website Jet dot com, and as the founder of Diapers dot com. It’s Lore’s dream to channel his considerable wealth into a new, futuristic city of his very own, which he calls Telosa.
Concept art for Telosa reveals tall, twisting buildings covered in solar panels and trees in a wonderfully solar-punk vision of the future, with designs created by the Bjarke Ingels group, responsible for the comparatively tame Google headquarters.
These nifty concepts aren’t in short supply, either. According to Lore, the Bjarke Ingels group has provided him with blueprints for over 150,000 acres of developments, which is 4700 acres bigger than Chicago!
Of course, 1.10 Chicago’s doesn’t come cheap, and Telosa has an estimated price tag of over $400 billion, which would equate to a lot of diaper sales. More impressive is the fact that Lore’s pitch for the location of Telosa is an uninhabited desert in an as-of-yet undecided State, or beautiful, scenic Appalachia.
In a statement, Lore claimed he wanted Telosa to work on a system of “reformed capitalism” that focused on “inclusion over division”. He continued that the city would provide “equal access to healthcare, excellent schooling, and safe environments for families regardless of income”.
Lore proudly stated Telosa was a passion project and not about making money, but in the same briefing boasted he expected the land Telosa is built on would skyrocket in value to $1 trillion; definitely a mixed message there!
Similarly ambitious is the fact that, despite the location being unconfirmed, Lore states he expects 50,000 people will be living there by 2030. These future residents will apply, then be chosen by a lottery. We’ll have to wait until then to find out whether Lore is legit.
Ziggurat Pyramid, Dubai
If you thought the Shimizu Mega-Pyramid was old school, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Introducing the Timelinks Ziggurat of Dubai, which takes inspiration from the impressive, if admittedly smaller, ziggurats of old.
A ziggurat is a tiered pyramid design hailing from ancient Mesopotamia, the Sumerians being particularly fond of the structure. The oldest ziggurats date back some 6000 years, beating even the mighty pyramids of Giza by around 1500 years.
The Timelinks ziggurat has been commissioned by Dubai which would contain an entire city within its tiered walls and be built around a single gargantuan as-of-yet unnamed skyscraper.
Due to the unique confines of the city, the ziggurat would abandon roads all together. Instead, it would feature something halfway between cable car and high-speed elevator, capable of swiveling 360 degrees and traveling vertically as well as horizontally.
This makes sense from both a logistical and a developmental perspective. After all, vertical traveling pods would be able to traverse the city much easier than cars would, and the world is largely attempting to move away from oil reliance in the near future.
Additionally, Timelinks has reported they want the ziggurat to be as green and close to carbon-neutral as possible for such a huge project. Though the cost of the project has not been revealed, we know the Timelinks ziggurat will be about 0.8 square miles in size, over 3000 feet tall, and house up to a million people.
That’s the same population as the theoretical Shimizu pyramid at less than one third the size. It may be smaller, but the price tag for building such a feat is still huge, with estimates coming in between $200 billion and $500 billion!
While the ziggurat was originally unveiled to the public as far back as 2008 with a planned construction date of 2021, no work has begun on the project as of 2022. The Timelinks group are unphased, however, and project an estimated completion date for the mega-structure of just 2028, which is significantly less grounded than the Shimizu pyramid’s construction deadline.
If you were amazed at these futuristic cities being built around the world, you might want to read this article about the construction of artificial islands and this article about incredible city transformations. Thanks for reading!