Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.
Imagining a guidebook for the city in 2025.
Guidebooks can be helpful tools for tourists, especially those who want to dive deep into a place in a short amount of time. Usually, they tell readers what a city's all about and what sights it has to offer. Not the newest book on Copenhagen, which presents a look at a city that does not exist. Not yet, anyway.
The "Guide to Copenhagen 2025" [PDF] is a guidebook for the proposed future of the city, based on plans already in the works and a set of concepts that could, if implemented, create a more ideal future.
"[T]his guide isn't a utopian experiment," claims its introduction, "but a realistic image of a not-so-distant future."
The guide is produced by Sustainia, a future-looking sustainable cities initiative run by the Scandinavian think tank Monday Morning, in partnership with global companies and foundations like Microsoft, GE, Cisco, BIG Architects, Knoll, and IKEA. It's full of flashy renderings of new districts, parks and even a pair of towering buildings where bicyclists will be able to ride across a bridge 195 feet above the sea.
This is the first in a series of guides envisioning the cities of tomorrow. The guides will be guided by a set of Sustainia principles, such as "all citizens should live within a 5-10 minute walk to green areas," "attractive spaces between buildings invite citizens to interact," and "city leaders should recognize sustainability as a driver for innovation, creativity and prosperity."
"We will not just see a city that's more sustainable," said Meik Wiking of Sustainia in this introductory video. "We will also see a city that's more fun and more convenient, a healthier city and smarter city and a city with a higher quality of life."
By 2025, the city of Copenhagen is expected to be carbon neutral, according to recently announced plans from the government. This guide imagines what other sustainability measures could be put in place by 2025. The guide calls on locals and officials to focus on building on the city's reputation for bicycling by expanding its bike network by more than 62 miles, nearly tripling public transportation use, making more of the waterfront accessible for recreation and accommodating the additional 100,000 residents the city is expected to have by 2025.
This vision of Copenhagen in 2025 is certainly a very optimistic view of a future where all good projects are actually built, and built as planned. It's not clear how much these improvements would cost, and what kind of will exists to see them through.
There are countless plans for the future of cities, and plenty of proposals for turning them into more sustainable places. In many ways, this guidebook is just another of those. But it's also more effective. By synthesizing this near future as it's planned to be, the guide offers a vision of the ideal rather than an admonishment about how much things need to change.
For a tourist in 2012, this guidebook might not be the best choice to bring along on a 5-day romp. But for those who want to take part in improving the city's sustainability and quality of life, this future city guide lays down a path for what needs to start happening today.
Image credit: Sustainia