Do you remember Raccoon City from the first Resident Evil movie? It was built deep underground and for all its snazzy technology things went wrong and everyone died, horribly. Well, Russian architectural firm Ab Elise is hoping things will turn out differently when it constructs its underground city in an abandoned Siberian mine 550m below the Earth’s surface. The city, which has only just been designed and proposed, will be built inside the old Mir diamond mine. It will contain vertical farms, residential areas and recreational spaces. It will be covered with a protective glass dome and have solar panels on the walls. The concept is called Eco-city 2020 and the firm is hoping to get the green light so they can start building as soon as possible.
Eco-cities (sustainable cities) are not new. There are several projects around the world that aim to build the first truly habitable eco-city and there are just as many established cities trying to turn themselves into eco-cities by revolutionising housing, transport and business.
Midrand in South Africa’s Gauteng Province, has been working hard to turn the area into an EcoCity, which would incorporate state-of-the-art technology to allow residents to live sustainably. For example, efforts are being made to encourage employers to allow employees to work from home (in so far as it is possible). In the future, communities will be more cohesive, with residents able to find everything they need within walking or bicycling distance of their homes. Food will be organic and there will be a strong emphasis on recycling and alternative energy. The project is underway but it will take time to bring all the visions to fruition.
Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates plans to build the world’s first carbon neutral city within the next five to ten years. The aim to be carbon neutral starts with construction; Masdar City will not be built using any polluting technologies or fossil fuels. Taking the extreme UAE climate into account, almost all of the city’s energy will come from the sun. The intention is to use centralisation devices, which, according to Alternative Energy, will use mirrors to concentrate sunlight and direct it into a central tower. The tower will send 1m thick streams of light into different generators that power the city.
To help residents keep track of the energy situation there will a large LED attached to the top of a wind turbine; the LED will shine either blue or red. A blue light means that power levels are A-ok. A red light means power levels are not as they should be. To ensure that the environment is not unnecessarily polluted, cars will be banned from the city, instead residents will walk or use an underground transport system that uses podcars. Work on the city has already begun.
China, Japan, Korea and India are also jumping on the eco-city bandwagon. The advantage of these cities (other than all the other obvious advantages) is that they are all above ground. Russia will have to do some serious convincing to get people to move to a subterranean city, no matter how high-tech it is.