Vertical cities

In July, two TU Delft teams from the Faculty of Architecture shared the first prize for the event ‘Everybody Ages’ in the second annual Vertical Cities Asia International Design Competition.

The competition was held in Singapore and was sponsored by the World Future Foundation. Their entries, titled ‘The Open Ended City’ and ‘Life Time City’ beat out other entrants from Europe, Asia and the United States.

Asia is experiencing an urban boom, with increasingly more people leaving the country and moving to cities. Hong Kong accommodates 6,480 people per square kilometer, while around 7,700 city-dwellers in Singapore co-exist in the same area. Just where do all of these people live? Basically right on top of one another, in skyscraper-laden urban areas called vertical cities.

Predictions estimate that 75% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, so these cities will grow taller and denser, bringing up a host of questions that need good people to answer them.

The teams’ projects responded to a hypothetical brief that required a re-design of a one-kilometer block in Seoul’s Dragon Hill district, to accommodate 100,000 people, taking into account a fast growing population over age 65. Currently, about 17,000 people occupy one square kilometer in Seoul, but the higher-population scenario is likely.

To meet the brief’s goals, ‘Life Time City’ minimized walking distances while preserving historical sites and building upon newer ones. ‘The Open Ended City’ proposed inter-generational community centers in every 400-meter radius.

Two international students, Katerina Salonikidi and Maria Stamati, who were members of the ‘Lifetime City’ team, applied to compete with three other Delft teams. In the process, everyone shared information, with some having done preliminary research on-site in Seoul. ‘Lifetime’ and ‘Open Ended’ eventually made it through the first round.

“After we were chosen, we had one month to prepare the presentation, posters and booklets we were asked to produce,” Stamati said in an interview for TU Delft Highlights. Trying to simplify logistics, they forwarded their printed material to the competition venue by post, but it did not arrive on time. So they had to prepare them all over again at a local Singaporean printer.

Traveling by plane further complicated the rushed preparations. “We made seven small wooden crates that we could take on the plane. We had to redesign the models accordingly,” Salonikidi said.

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