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PEACE CITIES DESIGN CHALLENGE PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 01 May 2009 14:13

    (The following design challenge is offered to students and adults around our planet willing to take the time to develop alternative future cities that they believe will help create a better existence for all people, and our environment.  The below scenario is intended to inspire reactions, investigation and creativity to bring together new ideas and scenarios to start a process of consensus building.)

   The history of transportation shows that populations often move to where the most effective and efficient transportation systems develop. Ships have helped create seaports. Trains produced cities across the plains.  Regional airports brought business to growing communities.  There is no question that an international mass transit system that connects all the major cities of the world will create tremendous opportunities to design and build as many as 20,000 new towns, cities and communities around the world.  If these new Peace Cities grow to populations of approximately 250,000 it could mean that over five billion people will be moving into new communities within the next half century here on planet earth.  Since we are now at about seven billion people you can see how important the challenge is to build Peace Cities that can promise the future a higher level of living standard for over half of the people on our planet. 

   Before we start to design future cities it would be wise to look at the problems we are seeing developing in many, if not most of the major cities, as we know them today.  There is no disputing that many of our metropolitan mega cities are dynamic centers of finance, culture, religion, commerce, education and governance and we need them in the future to be viable places to do business and live.  However, most of these same centers of population are also centers of crime, disease, pollution, corruption, overcrowding, high unemployment, decaying infrastructures and bankrupt.  How can we design and build new communities that have the best of the best attributes and somehow avoid the worst problems?

  1. The industrial revolution has seen the mass of people move from an agricultural existence to living in cities and metropolitan mega cities.  This large-scale movement of people has intensified within the last fifty years such that 80% of humanity on earth may be living in less than 200 mega cities by 2020.
  2. In the last two decades we have seen a majority of the mass migration involve young people where the average age in many large cities has fallen from 40 to 20 within a decade.  Often a majority of these young people are unemployed and they have to live in shantytowns that have no utilities, schools or health care.  A growing number of large cities are seeing these shanty towns pop up over night in vacant lots, in public parks and subways.  Owners of vacant land have to secure their land with barbed wire and armed guards.  Homeowners near these shanty- towns are experiencing break-ins, thefts, rapes, drugs, and violence on a daily basis.  Many of these youth end up in violent gangs that are involved in kidnappings for ransom, drugs, and street fights.  These shantytowns are often the breeding grounds for disease and possibly future pandemics of fast spreading plagues.  Often unnoticed by the news media are hundreds of thousands of street children who die from malnutrition, infections and contagious diseases each year in a growing number of these mega cities around the world.
  3. Another disturbing trend is that world populations are generally moving from cold regions to year around warmer climates.  Many population experts are predicting that 90% of the planets population may actually live within 90 kilometers of an ocean or large body of water by 2020.  The problem with this large-scale movement of humans is that if global warming continues on the scale it is today that a majority of these mega cities in warm climates near oceans and seas may be swamped with seawater. Many seaside communities are already experiencing year around flooding.  Billions of these people may have to be relocated in our lifetime.
  4. Still another disturbing trend is that these large mega cities located on the coasts are continuing to dump their garbage and wastes into the ocean.  Huge areas of oceans are being polluted and sea life for hundreds of kilometers is being affected. Coral reefs and fish are dying. Sea temperatures are rising and weather patterns are being changed globally.   In the warmer seas these garbage dumps are producing new strains of viruses and bacteria every 24 hours.  The chance of a worldwide pandemic spreading from these dumps increases everyday.
  5. An extremely costly problem is that most of the large urban areas first started to build their utilities and road systems over 100 years ago and these infrastructures are collapsing around the world.  Street cave-ins are common in many cities.  Major water and sewage line breaks occur in almost every city in the world.  The costs of repairing or replacing these aging infrastructures could be hundreds of trillions of money units worldwide.
  6. Another obvious problem that architects, engineers and city planners all seem to want to ignore is that these large urban cities have elected to do two different things in encouraging urban sprawl in the suburbs but higher and higher buildings in the center city.  Urban sprawl is consuming millions of hectares of food production land every year globally and is becoming a critical issue to farmland prices and food production.  But in the inner city we are seeing a variety of serious issues from increasing crime because downtowns have fewer “eyes” or people keeping it safe especially after dark, to our finding out what the limits are to aging high rise buildings.   We have seen subsidized housing projects torn down within ten years because the structures were destroyed by the residents; but we are also witnessing windows and bricks falling hundreds of meters from deteriorating high rise buildings.  How long can concrete and steel in forty story buildings really be safe?  Many cities are finding out the hard way today. How much weight can a city put on the geology of any area and not create long-term problems?  Many large cities are sinking down every year just because of the extreme weight and lowering of water tables underneath them.
  7. There are obvious political problems connected to the rapid movement of people to urban areas.  One is that there is almost universal tension between those moving into a city or region taking low paying jobs and those that were there feeling that the immigrants need to be moved back to where they came.  These tensions have the potential of causing tensions between nations, which is already happening between many countries.  But a second problem is that as populations shifted from rural to urban the representation in governments has shifted so that urban interests now dominate most government bodies around the world.  So just when governments need to find ways to encourage more people to live in rural areas the urban special interests fight to keep tax dollars coming to the larger cities, where the problems just keep getting worse.
  8. Another significant problem is that urban growth has paralleled the rise of the automobile.  Most urban planning now deals with moving its workers from suburbs to work centers by automobiles.  Parking lots and concrete roads are now taking up as much as ten to twenty percent of the landscape.  The concrete jungle as it is often called directly effects water run off, erosion patterns, pollution, and long delays in congested traffic.   Many cities build new and wider roadways only to find that this strategy actually increases traffic and congestion.  One important factor that affects cities, schools and individuals is the high cost of owning, operating and maintaining cars, trucks and buses.  The automobile may take up as much as 25% of a family’s monthly budget these days.  Another important factor related to the automobile is that they may be creating a majority of carbon pollution and global warming.  We build cities to accommodate the automobile but why not accommodate humans and the environment first?
  9. Another often overlooked but probably one of the most significant factors to urban living is the rising cost of housing.  In most families the cost of living in a structure can be from 50 to 75% of their income.  We have seen building costs go from homes of $3000 one hundred years ago to the average new home now costing over $150,000.  Not only have building materials escalated dramatically but so has the size of our residences.  The cost of housing is the single largest cost of living today.  What we have seen is that the cost of housing was the center of the financial crisis as families found out they could not afford the high costs of their homes and now millions and millions of people are loosing these homes.
  10. The rising cost of food is another significant factor in urban living.  As the style of living in cities has moved away from home cooked meals and more people eating out or cooking prepared meals the costs of a family’s food budget has skyrocketed.    Families stopped growing their own food in gardens and the source of food has gotten farther and farther away from where people live.  As the cost of transportation and marketing has risen the cost of food has risen dramatically.  At the same time the quality of what we eat may have decreased and the personal health of urban dwellers as also decreased.  Obesity is an urban phenomenon in most modern societies.
  11. The rising use of urban chemicals is another important variable that needs attention.  It is now assumed that most urban water supplies are contaminated with many very dangerous medicines, chemicals and compounds being thrown away.  These chemicals are now polluting not only local ground water but the run off is actually destroying plants and fisheries in oceans and seas around the world.  Just the antibiotics showing up in public water supplies may be creating an international health problem in creating more and more resistant strains of viruses and bacteria.  The most serious water situation for cities is however the growing shortage of drinkable water around the world.  It is estimated that over one third of the world will not have adequate drinking water in our lifetime.
  12. The almost total breakdown of society in the hurricanes we have witnessed in the last decade demonstrate how fragile humanity is in any urban settings.  The mix of over crowding, unemployment, rising costs, and shortage of public utilities and community security forces is directly connected to violent crime, property destruction and very high levels of stress.  All of these are now being connected to increases in heart and cancer diseases as well as a shortening of life.  We know now that all of these are happening in most modern urban cities without any natural catastrophes occurring.  Modern cities are obviously out of balance in many ways and are causing many serious problems to society and humanity.

PEACE VILLAGES ALONG PEACE HIGHWAYS

    Now that we have indicated some of the worst problems associated with modern cities let’s suggest what can become centers for future living that are far more positive for humans and our environment.

  1. Private pure democratic communities.  Peace Incorporated will not just be involved with building Peace Highway but also many of the new towns and cities that will pop up along its path.  An estimated 20,000 new cities that might grow to populations of 250,000 means over five billion people on earth may be moving to new communities in our lifetime.  It is expected that these new communities will be privately owned with each adult resident owning one voting share.  In a sense these new towns will be pure democratic entities using computers and mobile devices to allow every voting resident to vote on their preferences regarding every major issue that comes up in the community.  There will still be the need to elect representatives but they will basically administer policies of the stock holding voters.
  2. Comprehensive multi-use planned communities.  Instead of present day single use zoning concepts that put residents in one area, work in another, retail in another and parks in still another Peace Cities will bring multiple functions to comprehensive planning on different levels.  For example, a family might live on level four, work on level one, go to school on levels two and three, shop on levels one and two, go swimming on level four.  Cities might limit their height to four or five levels that are stair stepped on the sides and covered by connecting domes. Residences will be town house condominiums that could enlarge or reduce in size to the needs of the aging of families.  Common wall construction using super strong concrete will be designed to last two thousand years.
  3. Environmentally balanced communities.  Peace cities will be designed to recycle 100% of all garbage and solid wastes and zero pollution will be allowed into the atmosphere or water table.   Residences and business will practice gray water recycling to preserve water supplies and provide water purification.   Plants, trees, flowers and vegetables will be grown everywhere possible with the city growing a majority of its own vegetables.  These cities will be spotlessly clean, bright, colorful, cheerful communities.
  4. Balanced capped concept communities.  Peace Cities will be limited to no more than 250,000 residents planned to optimal proportions of different employment and service needs with zero tolerance for any discrimination or preferences related to race, ethnicity, religion or age.  To become a resident of a Peace City individuals and families must apply and be accepted to fit into the master plan or concept.  For example, some communities may elect to develop into education centers, or medical centers, or commerce centers and the master plan would then seek our individuals and families that would add benefit to such a community with a wide array of career opportunities.  Like people applied for jobs in the past people would apply to become residents of a Peace City.   Being accepted would also imply employment, housing, education, medical services, recreation and social services in a very safe and comfortable community.
  5. Creative specialized communities.  Peace Cities could be some of the most innovative and interesting places on our planet to live, work, play, learn and retire.  Every new Peace City could be unique in its overall design and master plan.  Some cities could be underground, some under the sea, while others may be geodesic domes or appear to be giant greenhouses.  Peace cities could be circular with no intersections and only built for walking with no cars.  Cities could cascade up the side of a mountain with every residence looking out over an ocean or a giant valley.  Some cities might be just fun recreational communities. 
  6. Interconnected but independent communities.  Because all Peace Cities will be connected by the Peace Highway making it very possible and cost effective to travel to other specialized Peace Cities individual communities do not have to concentrate on providing all services and needs.  Each Peace City will provide basic needs to be independent but interconnecting to other cities will always be assumed.  Some functions like higher education may see students move from one city to another every month to experience differences in geography, culture and career exploration.  Once a voting member of one Peace City individuals and families may elect to swap housing and employment with residents of another Peace City.  Visitors, shoppers and travelers will always be welcome but to get permission for permanent residency individuals and families need to apply for community vacancies.  
  7. Architectural and behavioral coded communities.  Peace Cities will have architectural and building codes for continuity and safety of the basic community design.  From the outside these cities may appear to be singular in their individual agreed upon designs but inside the homes, businesses, schools and recreation areas unique and creative interior designs will be encouraged.  At the same time Peace Communities may elect to develop behavioral codes with zero tolerances for criminal and unacceptable behaviors.  Conviction may result in eviction from the community. 
  8. Balanced budgeted communities.  Peace Cities must operate with balanced budgets and plans to pay off initial debt as quickly as possible.  Balanced budgets will be expected of individuals and families as well and some communities may not allow personal credit cards to limit individual debts.  Residencies may be life long leases rather then individual ownership.  Wide caps in income levels and lifestyles may be limited so to avoid economic classes within communities.  The goal of achieving higher standards of living on less income may be achieved by lower housing, transportation and food costs.  Education, medical and social services may be assumed as part of the membership to a community.  Income from the Peace Highway as well as profits from sales of products and services may be used to pay for community costs.  Outside money coming into a Peace City should always be welcomed as an economic multiplier.  A close symbiotic relationship will exist with local farmers and product suppliers from the nearby region.  Independently owned stores will be encouraged inside the city within a master plan.  Home businesses will be encouraged.  Peace Bank will provide financial continuity for individuals, families and businesses and provide a wide array of money services.  An overall and long-term goal of every Peace City will be to maintain economic equilibrium.
  9. Safe and secure communities.  Peace cities will be designed to be safe and secure.  The concept of living in any community where everyone is employed, has quality housing, education, health care, social services and recreational facilities is unique in history and should provide a social culture free of the environmental pressures for deviant behavior.  The influence of zero tolerance for breaking behavioral codes and getting evicted from the community should reduce individual random deviance.  Peace Cities may not allow personal weapons or guns within the city.  Safety and accident prevention will be a critical design element of every square inch of every Peace City.  A zero tolerance of random preventable accidents will add to living safe and secure in these communities.
  10. Friendly communities.   Peace Cities will be designed to encourage friendly environments.   Positive environments can come from safe, comfortable, creative physical environments but also from the enhanced and supportive crossing of human paths, cooperative community projects and facilities, friends and family networks, meaningful employment, spiritual sharing, good physical and mental health practices, and a general “feel good” friendly environment.  Living in a positive environment can mean better health, longer life, more productivity and creativity, and increased self worth.  A very large sense of feeling good about living in any Peace City will come from experiencing the city as a place that really cares about its members.  A Peace City’s highest priority shall always be its members.   As long as individual members feel this sense of caring from the community then individuals will behave to enhance their city, neighborhood, and family.  Peace Cities will be very desirable communities to live in.   

DESIGN CHALLENGE

   Individuals and teams interesting in submitting a Future Village design may elect to develop a total comprehensive design involving as many variables as have been mentioned above or they may elect to develop specialized aspects of a future city.  The above discussion is only meant as a starting point for your design.  Each team must elect where their village will be located within 100 miles of a major city or capital and each team must elect what the desired population will be between 25,000 to a maximum of 250,000 all located within a one mile square area.  Judging will be based on total effort, as well as creativity, feasibility and positivism presented.   It will be helpful to state resources used.  Teams must register each team member and it is good to identify what each team member contributed.

   The following are just some of the variables that your Peace City might recommend in your design.  The more comprehensive your design is the more points will be awarded.  You must provide an essay on why your design will be a positive addition to our future.    Teams may submit only one design per season.  The following are design attributes each team may elect to include in their design and essay.

Aging/Retirement    

Clothing/Fashion

Conflict Resolution

Crime Prevention

Economics/Money

Education/Learning

Employment/Jobs                                                                                   

Entertainment 

Environment

Families/Children

Food/Nutrition

Globalization

Global Warming

Government/Politics

Health Care/Medicine

Housing

Justice/Equal Rights

Land Use

National Security

Natural Resources

Oceans/Lakes

Recreation/Leisure

Recycling

Social Services

Space Exploration

Taxes

Technology

Terrorism  

Transportation

Volunteerism

War 

   Your submission can include written scenarios, designs, photographs of models and short videos.  All submissions need to be emailed, with attachments to the below address no later then December 1, 2010.   Submissions of merit will be posted on this site.  By submitting all entries are agreeing to allow their material to be shared with the world on this site. All entries will be judged by a panel of reviewers and awarded Peace Points. Points may be accumulated , auctioned or redeemed. (See REWARD EXCHANGE BOARD)

SUBMIT TO: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 September 2010 19:52