The current push for SMART Cities is, no doubt, a quickly evolving aspect of the Built Environment which offers huge potential to at least mitigate some of the impacts that our various societies have on our planet both now and in a future that is ever more focused on urban living. At the same time, we feel that the term Smart Cities is restrictive in describing and tackling the major challenges that need to be addressed at a city level and this position is reinforced by the focus that is given to technology as the answer to all ills. But we acknowledge the label that has been stuck on this field and, of course, we recognise that technology will play a significant role going forward.
We believe that as engineers we are ideally positioned to provide evidence based advice and design in this field. But we also believe that the real solutions go beyond pure technology with issues relating to governance, sustainable business opportunities, sense of place, resilience and future proofing (to name a few) needing equal weight and consideration. Whilst the problems associated with urbanization are generally understood from civic leaders to citizens, appropriate mitigation is less well defined. Our Living City approach is straightforward; we need to create successful cities for the future. It is the balancing of social, environmental, economic opportunities resulting from urbanization through best-in-class planning, design and construction whilst integrating technology to underpin all elements of the urban domain. We broadly group these issues into the following:
At Buro Happold, we consider our purpose is to enable our clients to achieve a more sustainable future by creating solutions that enhance their business and enrich people’s lives, harnessing the experience and passion of our people to make places that deliver more but use less. We support this approach by undertaking cutting edge research, either independently or linked to top tier universities, to ensure that the need for design against current policy and delivery of viable solutions is underpinned by forward thinking that is able to anticipate and respond future change.
We believe that this ambition is essential in facing up to the huge challenges confronting the planet as societies develop, urbanization spreads, populations grow, climate change impacts on the environment and the reserve of natural resources on which many economies currently depends reduces at an alarming rate. We believe that we can and must all play our part in helping to reshape a healthier, safer and more sustainable future for mankind.
Living Cities is an arena which requires all of the many strengths of Buro Happold to be deployed and engaged in an integrated and holistic way in order to deliver thoughtful, effective and valuable consultancy. Technology is moving fast – the last great idea is rapidly overtaken by any number of innovative new ideas clamouring for recognition.