I would contend that one of the greatest challenges to the social health of any eco megacity will be the city’s ability to mitigate or almost eradicate this urban trait – by using their rare opportunity to create as many ways as possible to stop it developing in the first place.
One suggestion if that we develop a travel and transport infrastructure that allows people to ‘take a different path’ to the same destination – getting some different perspectives and taking in different surroundings on the way.
Developing an arterial system that combines pedestrian, bus, tram, monorail, cycle, scooter and car ways in such a way as to allow commuters even at their most time critical to take a different route would create breathing space in the urban ebb and flow – a far greater sense of balance and an opening out of personal perspectives.
I also believe that in creating the opportunity to gently raise people or enabling people to raise themselves out of a sometimes crushing routine helps them to connect and engage with people they might not otherwise have meet or with experiences they might not otherwise ever enjoy – and that is about the earlier point of making transparency and openness an integral ‘living’ part of the city.
If one wants to see this demonstrated first hand get street level in a city where the normal infrastructure of travel is ruptured, stunted, closed, redirected or unsettled by either weather, a national or local event or industrial action.
Initially it is just a city full of exasperated individuals everywhere – anxiety and annoyance are rife. This is simply the immediate emotional reaction to enforced change, the frustration of having no choice in the matter of having to change your routine.
But once the rupture has set in, after a few days, the choice issue dissipates, and you start to see an underlying ‘lift’ in people, small moments or camaraderie, and people beginning to enjoy different aspects and attributes of a city they otherwise would never see.
Imagine if we could build that choice – and the citizens ability to do that – into the everyday travel infrastructure of a city – the ability to ‘take a different path’ and ‘look up’. That would be truly amazing.
And perhaps in all of these things we could see an eco megacity built upon ore than exceptional carbon modeling, energy use, waste management, sustainable building materials, utility lifecycle planning and infrastructure efficiencies.
We would have a very singular and particular one built to house the new vision of Chinese prosperity – inclusive, interwoven, built around an exceptional ebb and flow of human energy, new dreams built upon old wisdoms, upon urban and rural integration, generations reconnected for everything China is yet to be and yet to do.
NOTE: China Dream is an initiative designed to reshape a more enduring and resilient concept of prosperity. Developed by Peggy Liu founder of JUCCCE, an NGO, the China Dream is committed to changing the path of Chinese consumption and living for good.