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The cities of tomorrow

Populations are growing, sea levels are rising – are floating houses the solution? Exciting ideas for the near future.

Floating houses on Geierswalde Lake in Saxony
Floating houses on Geierswalde Lake in Saxony © dpa

Germany. A campaign entitled 'Shaping the Future – Building the City of Tomorrow' explores the question of how cities can be made liveable and sustainable. It will run for one and a half years and is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Why is the issue important?

By 2050 there will be almost ten billion people living on the Earth – two thirds of them in cities. The population of Vietnam, for example, will grow by about five million people in the next 30 years. At the same time, climate change will cause sea levels to rise. Coastal areas suitable for settlement will become narrower.

All over the world people are thinking about how the city of the future can meet challenges like the growing population, climate change, and many other issues. The campaign participants are working on four main topics:

  • How can energy sources and infrastructure be meaningfully exploited?
  • How can people and goods be transported efficiently?
  • How will the flow of information be organized?
  • What will be the role of key technologies, e.g. in supplying people with food?

Who is taking part?

Scientists from China, Germany, India, Columbia, the USA and Vietnam are collaborating in ten research networks with businesses, city administrations and communications agencies.

What do the experts say?

"We must counter the consequences of climate change immediately," demands Professor Horst Stopp of the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus (BTU).

We can't wait until the water is up to our necks.
Professor Horst Stopp, BTU Cottbus

The BTU's researchers are working with Vietnamese scientists to develop floating houses. German construction engineers are already testing building materials for floating architecture in the Lausitz Lakeland area. Hopefully the experience gained will also help in Vietnam, where the authorities are sceptical about floating buildings, because in many places trash and sewage are disposed of straight into the water. The Cottbus-based scientists are also working on clean alternatives together with their Vietnamese project partners.

Floating architecture in Germany and Vietnam

What will be the next steps?

The scientists are networking with partners from business and government and will present their findings at public events to check out how practical they are.

'Shaping the future': information, programme and dates