Five Ideas from Asia for Creating Future Cities


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Where better to look for ideas on how to handle the challenges associated with urban change than Asia – a region (quite rightly) synonymous with rapidly-growing cities. Over the last two years This Big City has featured numerous articles exploring urban innovations from Asia. Here’s five with global potential (click the titles to read more!):

Compact Living

As urban populations increase, are cities going to find themselves ‘beyond capacity’? This uber-compact Japanese hotel presents an extreme example of how we could handle population growth without urban sprawl.

Modifying Historic Urban Space

Asian urbanism is about more than megacities. China is seeing some ambitious architectural projects emerge which brilliantly bridge traditional Chinese buildings with modern design features. If we are to maintain the heritage of our built environment, projects like this need to become more commonplace.

Encouraging Sustainable Lifestyle Choices 

Whilst urban living has potential for improved sustainability, it isn’t guaranteed. In order to further encourage sustainability, we could follow South Korea’s approach, where the Government announced plans to introduce a green credit card programme, with credits awarded for sustainable consumption choices that are converted into rebates on utility bills, or directly into cash.

Technologically Enhanced Architecture 

This building near Tachikawa station in Japan had a QR code projected on to its façade, which when scanned by a smartphone presented information on the retail premises within. This idea could easily be replicated on most buildings, though the real transformative potential comes as technology and architecture become more subtly integrated.


Whilst still just an idea, hopes are high for Tianjin – a future Asian eco-metropolis. Tianjin will feature solar and geothermal energy and have 50% of its water needs met through recycled or desalinated water. One less than sustainable element – it’s built on 30 km2 of reclaimed wetlands.