Major trend towards urbanization

The future is urban

Demographic change, increasing mobility, technological progress: over the past few decades, ongoing developments worldwide have led to huge growth in the populations of cities. This trend is now more relevant than ever. To make the most of the cultural, economic and social benefits of urban living, more and more people are continuing to move from the countryside to towns and cities. Cities are already the primary living environment for humans and this is set to become increasingly important. (Photo: Fotolia)

"The urban population of the world has grown rapidly from 746 million in 1950 to
3.9 billion in 2014." 2014 UN report on the world population situation

More than half of the world's population now lives in urban areas. By the year 2050, this will rise to more than two thirds of humanity, as forecast in a 2014 report by the UN on the world population. This megatrend for urbanization poses major challenges for cities themselves, not least due to rising demand for housing, the need for sustainable energy, well-designed infrastructure and the necessity for attractive green spaces for recreation. This requires taking a long-term view of urban development that focuses on the needs of citizens and improving their quality of life.

Tomorrow's cities will be dense and thoroughly mixed in terms of use

"A liveable city must feature a strong mix of uses. It needs to be lived in. People must work there. And there should be cultural activities and educational institutions – basically everything we need these days for a good life." Prof. Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, professor for the History of Urban Design at ETH Zurich, being interviewed by journalist Michael Kerbler. The interview is part of a 2014 series of talks on the future of the city and the city of the future at the Wiener Planungswerkstatt (Vienna's information centre for architecture and urbanism).

In order to oversee the continuous growth of urban living spaces, many major European cities such as Vienna, Zurich, Cologne, Berlin or Hamburg are basing their future urban planning strategies on a master plan devised specifically for their city. Among other aspects, this plan specifies the structure of new urban quarters and contains blueprints for future developments, infrastructure and the size of public parks while also defining the functionality and quality of spaces there. Quite often in urban areas a mix of uses is sought that encompasses living, working, retail, culture, leisure and tourism. This idea is also a feature of the HafenCity docklands district currently emerging in Hamburg.

HafenCity Hamburg: a model for sustainable urban development in Europe

Hamburg's new waterfront district known as HafenCity is currently Europe's biggest inner-city development project and is setting new standards in terms of meeting the town planning challenges of the future. Taking shape on 157 hectares of former port and industrial sites along the River Elbe, the master plan envisages an ensemble of ten attractive quarters each with its own identity.

Photo 1: The Marco Polo terraces tilt in different levels to the water.
Photo 2: A dense net of foot- and bicycle paths provide a sustainable traffic.
Photo 3: Magdeburg Harbour, Elbtorquartier
Photo 4: Place St. Annen, Brooktorkai

As well as high architectural quality, urban design and sustainability, the underlying planning principles for each quarter combine residential use, office space, shopping and leisure facilities. Smooth transitions between the different quarters and well-thought-out open spaces, including a number of parks, promenades and public spaces, will ensure both a high quality of life and a sense of well-being. (Photos: HafenCity Hamburg GmbH)

Further information

  • Intelligent urbanization
    Updated on a daily basis, the information platform from Messe München International, one of the world's leading trade fair companies, focuses on urbanization as a megatrend. The portal combines the competencies of six of Munich's international events including BAU, the world's leading trade show for architecture, and its exhibitors. Open calls, video interviews, relevant studies and event news supplement the information on offer.
  • Bauwelt Congress: Generation City – Urbanity Without a Concept?
    A conference organized by trade publication Bauwelt (literally 'Construction World') takes place at Berlin's Kino International from 6 to 7 November 2014. Among other topics, the latest plans from Cologne, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Zurich and Berlin will be controversially examined from the perspective of planners and architects. Please find further Information under
  • Metropolitan Solutions 2015
    The world's largest combined congress and trade fair for smart cities opens its doors in Berlin between 20 and 22 May 2015. Exhibitors will be presenting their innovative solutions in areas ranging from urban mobility, power supply and water quality/supply to building services. For the first time, there will be 12 high-profile international conferences alongside the exhibition and covering all the relevant issues.