Mega-cities will soon be revolutionized and freed from their noisy, energy-consuming, and congested character.
Cities have existed for thousands of years, so what can justify the need to remodel them now and how might we do so? The primary reason is that our world is urbanising at a fast pace. 2050 envisions 80% of the world’s population living in mega-cities, however, these cities were initially built to welcome far fewer individuals. 1 Another critical factor is the rise of technology which will continue to drastically change our mega-cities. Increasingly key to a sustainable future is the need to imagine innovative eco-responsible lifestyles in the midst of climate change, as well as incorporate nature into our cities in order to compensate for the loss of resources.
Mega-cities are already starting their transformation on their road to 2050, encompassing the following traits:
A) Carbon-free buildings
60% of carbon emissions from a building happen during the construction process. 2,3 Materials issued from petrochemicals such as rubbers, floorings or paints are slowly but surely being replaced by bio-sourced elements issued from renewable organic fabrics, such as wood, hemp, cork or straw. For a cost of 2 to 3% higher, this shift could reduce carbon emissions by 40%.2 Ecological architects such as Vincent Callebault have already started thinking outside the box and refashioning current structures. The ‘archibiotect’ has the ambitious mission to create a carbon-absorbing civilisation to adapt to current hazards. 4 One of his most famous projects, the Rainbow Tower, is in the innovative city of Cebu in the Philippines. The building is a modular mass timber condominium tower of 38,613 m², housing 300 residential apartment units with a restaurant, a fitness centre, and a sky farm. The tower is made of natural materials such as mass timber, thatch, hemp and cellulose wadding, which drastically reduce the carbon footprint during its construction compared to traditional elements containing petrochemicals.
Along the same lines comes the ingenious refurbishment of the Parisian business area La Défense by Christian de Portzamparc. Still an ongoing project, this architect belongs to one of the 5 architecture agencies being called upon to revamp the business headquarters. Alike Vincent Callebaut, Christian de Portzamparc is conceptualising a decarbonised La Défense, with buildings made of wood rather than concrete, and forbidding any type of car to be driven on the main artery, which is 120 meters in width.
Rainbow Tower by Vincent Callebaut; Source: Vincent Callebaut Architectures, THE RAINBOW TREE - Vincent Callebaut Architectures
La Defense imagined by Christian de Portzamparc. Source: Passerelles vertes, immeubles d’habitation… Le quartier de La Défense imagine son avenir avec plusieurs architectes (20minutes.fr)
B) Tree buildings
Tree buildings are becoming increasingly popular among ecological architects wanting to revolutionise today’s real estate. This phenomenon of dressing a building with plants from head to toe not only improves the asset’s aesthetics; it also reduces its carbon footprint, and thus the pollution in the city, increasing biodiversity and contributing to citizens’ stress relief. Stefano Boeri is considered the pioneer of tree buildings with his Vertical Forests. In 2014, two of them were erected in the business district of Porta Nuova in Milan. The two towers house a total of 800 trees, 5000 shrubs and 15,000 perennials, all concentrated on 3,000 m² of urban surface. One peculiarity of this plant-based armor is that it filters the sun’s rays, as opposed to a glass or stone façade that would reflect them. This filtering prevents adverse effects on the environment. Qualified as ‘’home for trees that also houses humans and birds’’, these vertical forests are set to be the reference in the future of real estate. 5
Stefano Boeri’s Vertical Forests in Porta Nuova, Milan, Italy. Source: Vertical Forest | Stefano Boeri Architetti
A key characteristic of the asset of the future is modularity. One building regrouping apartments, offices and shopping centres will become the new norm. A compelling example of such modularity can be found in most of Vincent Callebaut's architectural designs, such as his above-mentioned Rainbow Tree, which houses a mixed use of residential buildings and retail services. Another of his developments, named Archiborescence, encompasses a hybrid mix of home ownership, social housing, shops, co-working offices, research laboratories, sports facilities, and an urban farm. These designs will encourage proximity and for different social classes to come together.
The role of Longevity Partners in building resilient cities:
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 Hagège, Anna. “Découvrez à Quoi Ressembleront Les Villes En 2050.” Le Figaro Immobilier, 14 Mar. 2018, immobilier.lefigaro.fr/article/decouvrez-a-quoi-ressembleront-les-villes-en-2050_f9531bb0-26cc-11e8-aeb8-868b5077cf37/.
 Riaud, Mathilde. “A Quoi Ressemblera L'immobilier Du Futur ?” Les Echos , 8 Dec. 2020, www.lesechos.fr/thema/idf-2020/a-quoi-ressemblera-limmobilier-du-futur-1271979.
 VOISIN-BORMUTH, Chloë. “Paving the Way for the Low-Carbon City for All.” La Fabrique De La Cité, 3 May 2021, www.lafabriquedelacite.com/en/publications/paving-the-way-for-the-low-carbon-city-for-all/.
 The term ‘Archibiotect’ was coined by Vincent Callebaut himself. It is composed of the prefixes of the words ARCHItecture + BIOtechnologies + Technologies of Information and Communication. “VINCENT CALLEBAUT ARCHITECTURES PARIS - About Us .” VINCENT CALLEBAUT ARCHITECTURES, www.vincent.callebaut.org/.
 “Vertical Forest.” Stefano Boeri Architetti, 31 July 2020, www.stefanoboeriarchitetti.net/en/project/vertical-forest/.
 Martin-Chauffier, Gilles. “Défense De Ne Pas Rêver.” Paris Match , 5 Aug. 2021, pp. 28–29.
 “Paris La DÉFENSE ARENA.” Christian De Portzamparc, 26 Feb. 2020, www.christiandeportzamparc.com/en/projects/arena-stadium-92/.
 Raffin, Nicolas. “La Défense RÊVE Son Avenir En Vert AVEC Plusieurs Architectes.” 20 Minutes, Information En Continu, Actualités, Politique, Sport..., 20minutes, 30 June 2021, www.20minutes.fr/paris/3074367-20210630-passerelles-vertes-immeubles-habitation-quartier-defense-imagine-avenir-plusieurs-architectes.
 “The Rainbow Tree.” VINCENT CALLEBAUT ARCHITECTURES, www.vincent.callebaut.org/object/200207_rainbowtree/rainbowtree/projects.
 “VINCENT CALLEBAUT ARCHITECTURES PARIS - About Us .” VINCENT CALLEBAUT ARCHITECTURES, www.vincent.callebaut.org/.