Vertical City Q&A

1, What is the Vertical City?

Vertical city, also called 3-D City, is to build the city upwards, with a huge volume. To put it simply, it is similar to a super large building. It’s enclosed and spacious dwelling for human, isolated from nature environment.

Develop the street blocks by stacking one on top of other, entirely enclosed except for balconies and roof tops. There’re 10 to 20 sections, equivalently 10 to 20 pieces of land/city blocks, vertically in the city, each 20m to 40m in height, with total city height between 400m and 500m. Each section can develop by secondary real estate developers. General city activities, including outdoor sports activities, require up to 20 meters of clearance. The general residential area is usually 6 floors, within 20-meters height. Each vertical city can have one or two 40 meters high section, for large parks, stadiums, etc.

2, What is the advantage of Vertical City?

  1. The compactness. The efficiency of urban land use can be increased many times. Issues of the first-tier cities, like land resources shortage and high real estate prices, can be completely resolved. The cost of properties in a vertical city comes from almost exclusively from construction cost, which is relatively low. Therefore, relative land cost is almost nothing, and everyone can afford an apartment.
  2. Vertical city can solve the traffic problem completely. It saves a lot of resource that is taken by traffic system now, reduces the pollution and the commute time for everyone. It also improves interpersonal relationship by reducing conflict and competition, increasing in-person interaction.
  3. Vertical city is an enclosed human habitat isolated from the natural environment. It’s free from natural disasters. It would never be too hot, too cold, too humid, and there is no alpine hypoxia, no intolerable sultry, no wind/rain/hail/smog. Temperature and humidity is just right within it, always comfortable. There is no threat to the safety by wild animals.
  4. Smart city. All the people, objects and facilities can be connected through internet of things. Many services would be provided by robots.
  5. Safety. A variety of accidents can be significantly reduced, such as traffic accidents, natural disasters and so on. As the monitoring of network of all things, criminal offenses will also be significantly reduced.
  6. Increase in life quality in general. Everyone can live in the best of the environment, enjoying the same rapid and high quality service.
  7. Energy saving. There is no need for seasonal temperature control.  The exterior environmental influence is little because that the surface/volume ratio of the city is much smaller than traditional cities. The carbon footprint is low and the human habitat is environmentally friendly.
  8. Easy to expand. Vertical city can expand upwards section by section. Having construction at upper level, does not affect the city functions below. With much shorter distance and many choices of routes, it will only take less than half an hour to go anywhere within the city. Due to small land usage, there are always plenty of room for city expansion. A city cluster with a population of hundreds of millions is not unimaginable.
  9. Getting back space due to the elimination of cars. The per capita space in the city is larger than that of the traditional city. Consequently, it also eliminates the main sources of noise and air pollution.
  10. Clean and healthy. Exogenous infectious diseases are difficult to descend, such as avian flu. Smart cities can directly monitor the health status of each citizen. Sensors can detect the symptoms or precursors of a disease, and suggest the patient go to the hospital.
  11. Good indoor air quality and mild indoor temperature. No worries of molding. Buildings inside the city can be easily constructed and disassembled if needed. Lifetime of buildings and its materials will be extended due to the favorable environment, further lowering down carbon emission.
  12. Similarly, the lifetime of city infrastructure will also increase, and it is much easier to maintain and upgrade.
  13. Foreseeable future technology ready. It would almost certainly be the era of robots and artificial intelligence in the next few decades. Vertical city is smart, and its mild indoor environment is suitable for robots to move around. Robots and other AI machines can offer most everyday services in a vertical city.

Generally speaking, a vertical city can solve most of the issues that a traditional city is having now. It includes traffic, crime, pollution, heat island effect, natural disasters, infectious disease, high cost of infrastructure maintenance, winter heating leading to a wide range of air pollution, heat stroke, etc.

Traditionally, people live a life fighting with nature. Build the walls/shelter to keep away animals, and wear clothes to keep warm. Modern city life had this continuing, fighting with cold and heat, wind and rain, hail and smog. In the traditional city, the frontline is everywhere: each window, wall and door. In a vertical city people living in an isolated and dedicated human habitat, minimizing contact and interaction with the nature, letting the nature “be nature” again.

All in all, vertical cities are much more friendly to its ambient environment, and people can live a high quality life with the smallest carbon footprint.

3, What are the issues of a vertical city?

The short answer is there is none.

The longer answer is, many potential issues people naturally concerns actually do not exist, or solvable, or are matters of personal habits or different ways of thinking.

Q: what if I fear of height.

A: Indoor space is sufficient for you to avoid being close to the edge of the building. It is your own choice to stay close to the edge, and in a traditional city, you have to face similar situation.

Q:  I will be depressed for staying in an enclosed space for a long time.

A: There are outdoor space like balcony and sky gardens, and spacious public parks. And you stay indoor for a long time even now.

Q:  How is the indoor air quality?

A:  Indoor air quality is under control. Air quality control equipment is expensive, but works better if serves in a large scale, such as a whole city. Artificial air quality control can meet the highest standards, or as “natural” as you want the air to be.

Q:  Would it consume a lot energy for city lighting?

A:  Energy (or electricity) consumption of lighting in a modern city is not very significant in the total energy consumption mix.  The lighting of an enclosed space is naturally more efficient than that of an open space, because of reflection. City code can mandate high reflective construction materials. Moreover, the efficiency of lighting is still improving, and we can expect the total energy consumption of light will keep in the same level as current cities.

Q:  How’s the efficiency and capacity of elevator transportation?

A:  There will be sufficient elevator cars and shafts arranging as a vertical transport network, with local/express cars going to multiple directions. Escalators can handle short vertical changes, and ropeless elevators can handle long assent/descent effectively.

Q:  Would the elevators consume a lot of electricity?

A:  Elevators are usually weight balanced. Moving up and down does not take a lot of energy. The elevator array can also be arranged to recover energy while descending to minimize total energy consumption.

Q:  How about earthquake?

A:  Geographical concern will be part of the site selection to ensure it get least affected by nature disaster like earthquake. A vertical city has a large horizontal dimension, and is mechanically stable (than slim skyscrapers).

Q:  How about fire accidents?

A:  The entire city will be fire rated. The smart city monitoring system can detect and react to any accidents immediately to avoid any further damage.

Q:  What if blackout happened?

A:  Blackout has been happening less and less as technology developed. A vertical city has less electricity intensive than a traditional one. Blackout threatens both city types. When blackout happens, a vertical city only needs emergent lighting, while a traditional city need some system (traffic, heating/cooling, …) up running to keep the city functional.

Q:  People are isolated from the nature.

A:  It actually brings the nature closer to us than in the traditional cities. And the efficiency of the city free people from the traffic time between work and life, allowing them to spend more time in the nature.

Q:  Lack of sunshine.

A:  First, there is plenty of outdoor space to ensure people get enough sun/vitamin D. Second, time saved from the daily traffic can be invested into health. Third, 3D city prevent people from unnecessary sun burnt by keeping people indoor.

Q:  How about planting?

A:  There will be skygardens and balconies for outdoor planting.

Q:  No need for seasonal clothing?

A:  Indeed. You only need them when you are out of town.

Q:  there’s no privacy under the security camera?

A:  This is the era we live in already. It can be regulated by the law in the future.

Q:  will the existing old towns and traditional culture die?

A:  Not exactly. Some of them can be relocate into a vertical city to be better preserved within a controllable environment.

Q:  What if I like driving?

A:  There are still chances for recreational driving when travelling outside of the city.

4, What is the construction cost of a vertical City?

The cost of a traditional skyscraper is typically high. What about the vertical city?

Let’s look at the reason behind the high cost in skyscraper:

  • Skyscrapers are usually located in prime land.
  • Design and construction time is generally long, which adds up administration and financing cost.
  • Structure requirement increases the cost too.
  • They’re usually landmark buildings targeting high-end clients, with higher cost on interior design too.

3D city is large in volume, not necessarily in height. The proportion of the volume makes it easier to stabilize than a tall and slim buildings, and so cost less. Also, vertical city is economical instead of luxury. Cost can be adjusted accordingly.

It should be between 4000 and 5000 rmb per square meter in cost. Although it’s much higher than the average building construction cost, it’s much lower than most of the city’s housing prices. Vertical city land use rate is high; it can also be constructed section by section to reduce the total construction time and financial cost.

According to the current urban standard, a gross area of 100m sqm of vertical city can accommodate about 1 million people, with the cost of 40-50 billion rmb. If the construction time of the each section is 2~3 years, it will be 10 years from the beginning to the completion. But one section can be occupied while the other is under construction.

Smaller illustrating cities can be built first with 1/10 or ⅕ of the size, hosting 100,000 to 200,000 people. Cost can be proportionally reduced while the city is still fully functional.

5. Why are vertical cities necessary?

Vertical city is the future human habitat, the next generation city. They have more advantages than traditional cities: more comfortable, safer and more secure, people are happier, healthier and more equal, more friendly to mother nature.

It’s also great for the economy. It’s cheaper to build and it’s more sustainable.

Major cities around the world are becoming more and more like vertical cities, such as Manhattan (New York), Chicago, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Pudong (Shanghai), Shenzhen, etc.


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