The Faculty of Architecture at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) launches the Future of Cities film series on October 31 (Sunday) World Cities Day 2021, to promote awareness and discussion about big issues facing our urban environment in the post-COVID-19 era.
While the 20th century made commonplace the one to 10 million people city, the 21st century will be known for the 10 to 50 million city, and by the last quarter, there are likely to be multiple 50 to 100 million cities. Will life carry on as usual as cities get bigger and denser? What will become of us in this new world, as an entirely city-dwelling race? Both the good products of living together in cities (GDP, wages, inventions) and the bad products (crime, traffic congestion, some diseases) tend to rise more than linearly with city size, increasing by approximately 115% as city size doubles. Will smart city technology allow us to better control the bad to enjoy unlimited good in the world’s growing agglomerations?
Modern urban planning emerged at the start of the 20th century as a vital public health intervention in environmentally and socially disfigured industrial cities. A century later, faced with a new set of public health threats, our science of healthy cities has become more sophisticated. How will we design and control cities of the future to become more pandemic resilient? Will they be wired up to monitor real-time microbial health? Will city densities, design, circulation systems, and even locations, dramatically change as a result of the twin existential threats of pandemics and extreme climate events?
The Future of Cities comprises 12 three-minute films provoking speculation about such questions. Each focuses on a theme that is practically significant, theoretically rich and existentially important to the future of civilisation, while linked to research currently or recently undertaken in HKUrbanLabs at HKU Faculty of Architecture. Featured topics include the urban/rural divide, informal spaces in cities, aging urban populations, pandemic resilience, smart-city technologies, urban system optimisation, urban greening and farming, urban externalities, social inequality, city boundaries, and settlement patterns of the future.
“Had the city’s long-standing association with deadly infectious diseases not been reversed by antibiotics, it is unlikely that otherwise civilised societies would have put up for a century with the privations of being squeezed body-to-body in metro systems of the most advanced cities of the world,” notes Professor Chris Webster, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Director of HKUrbanLabs. “Will the pandemic signal the end to this last remaining vestige of 19th century daily urban life, ushering in, in the nick of time, decentralised working, shopping and playing, supported by personalised road and air autonomous urban transportation modes?”
Professor Webster adds that the films are influenced by the location of Hong Kong. “As one of 11 cities in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) of the Pearl River Delta – an ultra-dense polycentric city region connected by high speed transport corridors – we are at the epicentre of the world’s greatest ever urbanisation experiment. Unofficial population figures make GBA the first 100 million strong city region. What can we learn from it?”
Watch and read more about the Future of Cities at:
Director/Producer: Tom COZENS
Music: Tom COZENS
Script: Tom COZENS and Professor Chris WEBSTER
Executive Producers: Professor Chris WEBSTER and Dr Eric SCHULDENFREI
Assistant Producer: Alex TAIT
Production Assistant: Winnie YEUNG
Editor: Nick BRIER
Academic Contributors: Fengyu BAO, Joshua BOLCHOVER, Sam CHENG, Alain CHIARADIA, Professor Rebecca CHIU, Yuming CUI, Dr Juan DU, Dr Mengdi GUO, Professor Shenjing HE, Donn HOLOHAN, Dr Jianxiang HUANG, Dr Bin JIANG, Siddharth KHAKHAR, Xin LIU, Dr Mandy LAU, Dr Xiaoxuan LU, Minjung MAING, Matthew PRYOR, Dr Cole ROSKAM, Dr Chinmoy SARKAR, Xian SU, Alvan SUEN, Dr Guibo SUN, Hoi Hin TSE, Huaqing WANG, Professor Chris WEBSTER, Rita WOO, Anqi ZHANG and Dr Lingzhu ZHANG
Executive support: Weifeng TANG and Lunjing WU
Actors: Daniel CHAN, Professor Shenjing HE and daughter, Donn HOLOHAN, Doris LEUNG Suk Fong, Xianwei LONG, Dr Xiaoxuan LU, Dr Guibo SUN and Yi SUN
For media enquiries, please contact: Ms Janice Leung, Executive Officer for Communications of HKU Faculty of Architecture (tel: 3917 5970, email: email@example.com).