Six Architectural Ideas That Could Change the Way We Live in Cities

Whether in response to polluted air or shrinking space, architects keep coming up with novel approaches to reshaping urban life

Industrial designer Shin Kuo thinks everyone in a building should be able to live in the penthouse for a time. (Shin Kuo)
smithsonian.com

Cities have always presented unique challenges for architects. Now, with space at a premium and a greater need to consider environmental impact, designing urban spaces may require more imagination than ever. Here are six bold ways architects are envisioning the future: 

Bubble Parks

You know pollution is bad in cities like Beijing when architects start proposing concepts like this—parks enclosed in bubbles that let city dwellers escape the nasty air. Called Bubbles Biodiversity Parks, they're a vision of designers at Orproject, an architecture firm with offices in London, Beijing and New Delhi.

These would be parks, or more precisely, botanical gardens, enclosed in specially designed transparent bubbles. Erecting flexible domes over large areas is not only expensive, but can be downright impractical. But Orproject says it has devised a lightweight structural system where the skin is modeled after the veins of leaves or butterfly wings.

The parks would be open to the public. But here’s a twist—buildings around the park, which could house apartments, offices or stores, would have easy access to that refreshingly clean air.  

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