The world’s population is becoming increasingly urban and 68% of people are expected to live in cities by 2050, according to the UN. No wonder it’s getting more and more important for urban design to be innovative and convenient. The environment that surrounds us in the streets every day has the ability to influence our mood, our behavior, and even our way of thinking.
Enlighten gathered 20 urban design ideas that are so innovative every city should adopt them. Get ready to be surprised, as many of them are totally ahead of their time!
1. A glowing bike path
Wikrex / imgur
This bike path, located in Poland, is a great solution for those who love taking an evening ride. It’s made of light-emitting materials that glow in the dark. Its glow makes it much safer than a regular bike path and definitely more entertaining!
2. Unusual flowerbeds
A flower designer from New York, Lewis Miller, has a knack for incorporating flowers into unexpected environments. For example, this cat sculpture became an avant-garde flowerbed that could cheer up any passer-by or elevate any event.
3. A park made of recycled materials
This small park situated in Shanghai is called “Urban Bloom.” This space is a dream for nature lovers, as it’s constructed entirely of recycled materials. Trash can be really beautiful if we use our imagination, right?
4. Multi-purpose urban furniture
enormestudio / facebook
This is a project masterminded by Spanish designers. It’s a greenhouse, a bench, and a working office — all in one. Just imagine a compact place right in the center of a city, where people can work, enjoy a green oasis, and even charge their mobile phones with renewable energy.
5. Modified social benches
A Danish designer, Jeppe Hein, has reinvented public benches turning them into works of art. When you first look at it you might not even understand right away that it’s a real bench. However, the artist’s intention is for the visitors to become conscious of the act of sitting, laying down, or reclining on the benches.
6. Mirror labyrinths
This is an installation by the same designer, Jeppe Hein. It’s meant to help a visitor interact more with the surrounding environment. A city, a park, and people — all meet in the mirrors.
7. A food-producing dome
The future of urban design is all about sustainability. For example, this dome houses a bioreactor that can produce a huge amount of micro-algae that contain vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Looks like this might be the first step in the solution to the world’s biggest problems.
8. Self-cleaning roads
Wadsymule / reddit
It’s well-known that South Korea is one of the leading countries of the world in innovation. However, this is something that might surprise many of us: water sprayers incorporated into roads. They don’t just clean the surface of the roads but also regulate their temperature in order to prevent them from cracking.
9. Smart Wi-Fi stations
This is one of the numerous Wi-Fi stations in Paris where visitors can charge their devices, work on a laptop, or search for some information on a large screen. There’s a beautiful flowerbed on the top of the structure too.
10. A waterfall skyscraper
As more and more skyscrapers show up on the skylines of different cities around the globe, it’s getting harder for architects to come up with something unique and this building stands out quite well. It’s a skyscraper and a waterfall in one.
11. Creative traffic lights
What do you think about when you wait to cross the road? Maybe about love? These traffic lights definitely remind us about what really matters in life.
12. A sonic playground
This is a playground that will be admired by many young musicians. It’s an interactive sonic space that allows its visitors to play with sounds. The volume and the type of sound depends on where you stand.
13. Extraordinary sculptures
<-43">SWJJensen / imgur
Isn’t it cool to see an everyday object in a completely unusual environment? Like these huge domino tiles popping out of the ground, for example? This definitely makes people stop for a second and remember that life is a big game.
14. A street library
People nowadays spend more and more time watching videos instead of reading books. But street libraries, like this one, are meant to encourage people to dedicate some time to a good book. It’s definitely something that every city should adopt, isn’t it?
15. A glowing waste labyrinth
This labyrinth popped up in Buenos Aires and it was made with over 15,000 plastic bottles. It’s a new way to create an entertaining object in public space and at the same time draw attention to the world’s most crucial problem — an amount of waste generated by humans every day.
16. Spectacular fountains
The Vortex Fountain is located in the UK. As you watch it, you might get hypnotized by the flow of its waters, as this astonishing and impressive fountain seems to rise from the ground.
17. Windows turned into balconies
An Argentinian designer decided that modern buildings need to allow people to see more of the sky. These windows can be transformed into mini-balconies, where a person can lay down and enjoy a starry night or a sunny, cloudless day.
18. Cool trash bins
How do you show people that garbage should be put into a trash can, not thrown on the street? Maybe build them in the shape of trash. We’d love to see much cooler trash cans like these.
19. An urban tree house
This building incorporates 150 different trees, making it a giant treehouse in a busy city. Its residents can enjoy the urban buzz and the calmness of nature. They probably feel like they wake up in the middle of a forest with birds chirping and clean air.
20. 3-D printed benches made from recycled material
People generate enormous amounts of waste every day! What if we could turn it into more useful objects like, for example, benches? The Print Your City initiative combines recycling and 3-D printing. This way urban spaces can become more innovative and eco-friendly.
Which of these urban designs would you love to see in your city? Have you heard about any innovative design initiatives? Share your opinion in the comments.