As I was thinking about my travel plans for 2019, I wanted to include some of the newest places on Earth. For the past two years I’ve been working on creating and marketing floating cities, Special Economic Zones, and privatized cities as ways to experiment with innovative governance models, sustainable technologies, medical advancements, and new types of community structures.
More than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and that figure is expected to rise to 70% by 2050. We all love to dive into urban environnments for their cultural, culinary, and architectural offerings. In economic terms, the results of urbanization have been nothing but impressive. Cities are accountable for 80% of global GDP. For instance, the Boston-NYC-Washington corridor together with the LA region generates more than 30% of the United States’ annual output.
Success always comes at a cost, and the success of cities is no exception. Unsustainable consumption patterns, environmental degradation, and persistent inequity are only a few of the issues that afflict modern cities. For some, this assortment of horrors combined with the unprecedented mobility of labour in the digital era heralds the end of urbanization.
However, given what we know of cities and digitization today, the opposite conclusion seems more warranted. Instead of deurbanization, the next decades will see cities forging powerful international partnerships and taking the lead in solving global problems. Through the establishment of Special Economic Zones and private cities we are seeing new forms of innovative governance and economic policy, and the integration of biomimetic and biophillic design, blockchain technology, and AI are allowing for more secure, efficient, and beautiful urban environments.
New cities are being developed all over the world. Here are some of the exciting new cities, some completed and some still in progress, that we’ll soon be able to explore. I can’t wait to visit these places!
Lavasa is a city built near Pune in Maharashtra, India. This private, planned city is stylistically based on the Italian town of Portofino. Interestingly, its streets and most buildings bear the name of the town. The city spreads across seven hills, covering almost 25,000 acres of land. Lavasa has a perfect blend of nature and architecture.
The city offers countless pleasures for tourists, from picturesque scenery to an extremely well-developed infrastructure which includes resorts, hotels, universities, malls, residential properties, IT companies, and more. This new community is turning out to be the trendy hangout for people seeking a small trip away from the hustle of hectic city life.
Songdo International Business District (Songdo IBD) is a new smart city or “ubiquitous city” built from scratch on 600 hectares (1,500 acres) of reclaimed land along Incheon’s waterfront, 65 kilometres (40 mi) southwest of Seoul, South Korea and connected to Incheon International Airport by a 12.3-kilometre (7.6 mi) reinforced concrete highway bridge, called Incheon Bridge. Along with Yeongjong and Cheongna, it is part of the Incheon Free Economic Zone.
The Songdo International Business District will feature the Northeast Asia Trade Tower and the Incheon Tower. Schools, hospitals, apartments, office buildings and cultural amenities are to be built in the district. Replicas of architectural hallmarks, including New York City’s Central Park and Venice’s waterways, will also be incorporated. This 10-year development project is estimated to cost in excess of $40 billion, making it one of the most expensive development projects ever undertaken.
Songdo, South Korea
Colombo Port City
Colombo Port City in Sri Lanka will be a modern city district for about 40,000 residents and an equal number of job opportunities. The city district, which will be located on filled in land between the old city center and the new industrial port, features residences, schools, offices, hotels and commercial space.
Hudson Yards, New York
The Gracefield Island, Lagos
Hudson Yards Smart City
New York’s $20 billion Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s West Side is the largest private real estate development in the history of the U.S. With more than 18 million square feet of commercial and residential space, the massive high-profile project, which is essentially creating a new high-end mixed-use neighborhood on the banks of the Hudson River, will include over 100 shops and about 4,000 residences.
The Gracefield Island
The Gracefield Island – ‘The Phoenix’ is a joint venture project between Gravitas Investments Limited and the Lagos State Government. It involves reclamation and development of a new metropolis, offering a prime site for a world class live-work and play environment.
The development is conceived and planned to be unique in its landscaping, infrastructure design, architectural presentation and the ambience of tranquillity and happiness it will engender in residents and visitors.
Gandhinagar is a planned city in the western Indian state of Gujarat. The Akshardham is a massive Hindu temple with ornate carvings and sculpted pillars, plus a water show in its sprawling gardens. Dandi Kutir museum traces the life of leader Mahatma Gandhi, who was born in Gujarat. South, along the Sabarmati River, the Indroda Nature Park has a zoo and botanical gardens, plus an adjacent dinosaur and fossil park.
King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia
King Abdullah Economic City
King Abdullah Economic City is a megaproject announced in 2005 by king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the then king of Saudi Arabia. With a total development area of 173 km² (66.8 sq mi), the city is located along the coast of the Red Sea, around 100 km north of Jeddah, the commercial hub of Saudi Arabia. The city is also approximately an hour and 20 minutes away from the city of Mecca, 3 hours from Medina by car and an hour away from all Middle Eastern capital cities by plane. The total cost of the city is around SR 207 billion.
Lusail is a planned city in Qatar, located on the coast in the northern part of the municipality of Al Daayen. Lusail is located about 23 km north of the city center of Doha, just north of the West Bay Lagoon, on over 38 km² and will eventually have a population of up to 250,000 people.
It is planned to have marinas, residential areas, island resorts, commercial districts, luxury shopping and leisure facilities, and a golf course community, man-made islands and several entertainment districts. Construction is still ongoing.
Lusail City, Qatar
Sino-Oman Industrial City
The project’s scope of work consists of a light manufacturing zone located at Duqm, Oman. The project includes housing complex, schools, offices, a hospital, a sports center, a five-star hotel, an oil refinery capable of processing 235,000 barrels per day, a petrochemicals complex, a concrete plant, a steel smelter, a glass factory, an aluminum plant and a solar factory producing panels and batteries.
The project entails 12 light manufacturing plants which include: manufacturing of 1 GW of solar modules, manufacturing of 1 GW of batteries, processing plant for (10,000) of SUVs, manufacturing of tools, oil and gas pipelines, manufacturing of 1,500,000 tons of colorful panels, bicycles assembling plant, garment manufacturing and toys manufacturing plants.
Purchabal New Town, Bangladesh
Konza Technology City
Konza Technology City is a large technology hub planned by the Government of Kenya to be built outside of Nairobi.
Konza Technology City is a business process outsourcing (BPO) project that is being marketed by the Kenyan government through Kenya ICT Board. It is dubbed “where African silicon savannah begins”. The project wants to attract business process outsourcing, software development, data centers, disaster recovery centers, call centers and light assembly manufacturing industries, and build a university campus focused on research and technology as well as hotels, residential areas, schools and hospitals. It is also intended to include a science park, a convention center, shopping malls, hotels, international schools, and a health facility.
Konza Techno City was allowed by the Parliament Account Committee and endorsed by the Kenyan Government. The project will be built 64 km south of Nairobi on the way to the port city of Mombasa, on 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of land in Makueni County. It is estimated to cost 1.2 trillion Kenyan shillings (approx US$14.5bn). It is marketed as a key driver of Kenya’s national development plan, known as Kenya Vision 2030.
Purbachal New Town
Purbachal New Town is the biggest planned township in Bangladesh. The project area consists of about 6,227 acres (25 square kilometer) land located in between the Shitalakhya and the Balu River at Rupgonj thana of Narayanganj District and at Kaligonj Thana of Gazipur District, in the northeastern side of Dhaka. The Township will be linked with eight-lane expressway from the Airport Road/Pragati swarani crossing. The distance is only 6.8 km. There will be provision of about 26,000 residential plots of different sizes, 62,000 apartments with all necessary infrastructure and urban facilities.
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Highlands Ranch is a 22,000-acre master-planned community founded in 1981. The community has a population of 96,000 people. Highlands Ranch is located 12 miles south of Denver, Colorado, in Douglas County and offers a wonderful quality of life and opportunities for an active lifestyle.
Highlands Ranch celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2006, reporting a population of 86,000 residents. Despite a growing number of local businesses, Highlands Ranch has often been labeled as the “bubble” of Denver. Many residents commute to Downtown Denver or the Denver Technological Center.
Forest City is still at an early stage of development and reclamation work is currently ongoing. Four artificial islands will soon rise up from the waters of the Tebrau Strait, covering a total surface of 14 square kilometers and bringing Malaysia’s shoreline ever closer to Singapore.
On those islands one of the first so-called “eco-smart cities of the future” is expected to sprout, with an ambitious projection of 700,000 residents expected by 2050. A massive, futuristic sales complex was swiftly built to welcome potential investors and guide them around a scale model draped in green plastic and dotted with fancy mock-up apartments.
Forest City has been advertised as Johor’s bright new star, the ultimate environment-friendly escape just minutes away from Singapore.
Forest City, Malaysia
Poundbury is an experimental new town or urban extension on the outskirts of Dorchester in the county of Dorset, England. The development is built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. It is built according to the principles of Charles, Prince of Wales, who is known for holding strong views challenging the post-war trends in town planning that were suburban in character.
The development is built in a traditional high-density urban pattern, rather than a suburban one, focused on creating an integrated community of shops, businesses, and private and social housing. There is no zoning. The planners say they are designing the development around people rather than the car, and they aim to provide a high-quality environment, from the architecture to the selection of materials, to the signposts, and the landscaping. To avoid constant construction, utilities are buried in common utility ducts under the town. Common areas are maintained by a management company to which all residents belong. It consists of 35% social housing and is designed for sustainable development, which includes being carbon-neutral.
Pena Station Next
Pena Station NEXT is a global example of an energy and health-conscious community centrally located in Denver, Colorado – Pena Station NEXT is equipped with the absolute latest technologies for advancing business, communications, health, and the very ways we live and interact with one another.
This 382-acre, transit-oriented, community is where 21st century companies and residents come home to mile-high living, upgraded.
Waterfall City is at the heart of Waterfall, Gauteng’s newest work, live, play destination. Waterfall City in South Africa spans 800 000m² mixed-use space and accounts for 60% of the entire Waterfall. The tailor-made 330ha new Waterfall City features everything expected from a vibrant modern city. It embraces integrated, new urban living with retail, offices, homes, hotels, a hospital, parks, dining, entertainment and more.
Waterfall City is more than a city, it’s a truly connected hub, fully-integrated lifestyle and offers a complete work-life package. The design is inspired by the contemporary principles of walkable, energised, mixed-use environments to create a truly first-class city. Waterfall City responds to business needs, meeting specific tenant requirements, creating efficient, tailor-made premises for respected leaders in their own fields of business.
Pena Station Next, Colorado
Waterfall City, South Africa
Nurkent (Kazakh: Нұркент) is a town under construction in the Panfilov District of the Almaty Region of south-eastern Kazakhstan, set to be built by 2035 with a projected population of 100,000. The town is located near one of Kazakhstan′s two railway crossings on the border with China, at the Chinese city of Khorgos.
In autumn 2016, after a go-ahead from president of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan′s minister of national Economy Kuandyk Bishimbayev announced that Kazakhstan intended to allocate 11.3 billion tenge towards building infrastructure of a new town of Nurkent; it was reported that the construction of the town was seen as instrumental in resettlement of workers of the free economic zone “Khorgos — Eastern Gate”, the largest transportation and logistics hub on the New Silk Road. A dry port, a component of the Khorgos Eastern Gate free economic zone, began to operate in January 2015.
Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town
While Samsung and LG trade blows on the smart-device battlefield, Panasonic has taken connected living to a whole new level and built an entire smart town. Sited on an old Panasonic factory 50km west of Tokyo, Japan, Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town (SST) will be home to 3,000 people in 600 houses and 400 apartments, at a cost of ¥60bn (£328m).
One hundred Japanese families have already moved in — phase one opened on November 27, 2014.
The town’s infrastructure pivots around a smart grid connecting every building to a central real-time energy network — essential when juggling the variables of renewable technology and real-world demands.
Atal Nagar (Formerly Naya Raipur) is a city located south-east of the current capital Raipur in India; Swami Vivekananda Airport separates the old and new cities. Branding itself the ‘World’s First Integrated City,’ Atal Nagar prides itself on its ample green space, transparent governance, streamlined services, and efficient water and energy systems. Atal Nagar covers an area of about 8000 hectares. It includes 41 villages out of which 27 villages form the core of Naya Raipur.
Blockchains LLC city outside Reno
Founder Jefferey Berns says he plans to build a “Smart City” that is based on blockchain technology. This “Smart City” would include houses, apartments and condos, banks, markets, stores and schools. The lot where the small city is expected to be built is more than 60,000 acres, roughly the size of Reno. News 4-Fox 11 reported in January that Blockchains L.L.C. purchased the land at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in Nevada; the New York Times reported that it sold for $170 million in cash.
Berns says this “Smart City” would also include a 1,000 acres blockchain campus that focuses on the advancements of several different technologies including artificial intelligence, nano-technology, and 3D printing.
Naya Raipur, India
Blockchains LLC, Nevada
Astana Expo City
Located south of Bayterek Tower and east of Nazarbayev University, Astana Expo City is positioned to become a significant new landmark for Astana, Kazakhstan. The development’s goal is to reduce the energy demand to the greatest extent possible by using both passive and active strategies. The architecture and master plan were designed by using site-specific indicators like solar and wind orientation, weather conditions, and the cultural context, that were determined from a series of studies with the goal of minimizing the site’s energy-use while maximizing its energy-harvesting potential and comfort levels.
Strategies incorporated into the building’s designs include high-performance glazing that will maximize solar heat gain in winter while providing shading in summer; energy piles that will reduce energy demand and exposed thermal mass that will provide temperature modulation within the buildings during both summer and winter; 100% of rainfall from a 100-year storm event will be managed on site; and 90% of waste generated on-site will be diverted from a landfill.
Astana Expo City, Kazakhstan
Last but not least, a city I’m personally involved with and visited last Summer, Liberstad in Southern Norway. We spent a few days in Oslo then rented a car and drove through the stunning countryside to get to this new development. We timed our visit around a Summer party that was happening at Liberstad, where we met many of the future residents from all over the world, enjoyed fascinating conversations, a live metal band, Smirnoff Ice and the Sun hardly setting. I’m looking forward to seeing this community grow over the coming years.
Located about a five hour drive west of Oslo and an hour North of the harbour town of Kristiansand, Liberstad is a new development which will become Norway’s first private city. Services such as road maintenance and security will be provided internally by contracted providers, and cryptocurrencies will be used for day to day exchange. Land plots have been sold to over 100 future residents from around the world and construction began in 2017.
What’s on your travel bucket list? Let me know in the comments below!