We live in a strange new world. Odourless aftershave. Wheat-free bread. Virtual assistants. Pointless pastries, devoid of sugar, made with boosted broccoli from basement farms, yet deliciously popular. And cities without streets.
China’s latest planned urban extravaganza, a megalopolis known as Yuyuan or ‘Harmony Garden’, isn’t built around roads and streets. The walkways and thoroughfares linking the multiuse 3D-printed buildings can accommodate pedestrians, ebikes and hoverboards. Jogging and cycling are also encouraged, around pleasing water features and gardens, with no city grid to spoil the fengshui. And no cars.
The people-moving pods and autocars are all contained in hypertube tunnels below the ground. Floating on magnetic levitation, they never touch the track, and don’t need wheels, whisking their passengers from one tube stop to the next with near silent efficiency. Short hops from one building to the next can be made without leaving the elevator, which travels both vertically and horizontally, on the same principle.
No street means no street address, and so much the better. Every building has its own Zip code, a positive locator for any service, including drone deliveries to the roof. “It’s so much more efficient,” says local resident Avery Wong, “every city should have this!”
With no cars and trucks, air quality is great, and families are lining up to live in Harmony Garden. Of course, there’s a price to pay, as maglev hypertubes use vast amounts of electrical power, as does the immense network of sensors, cameras and controllers that keep this smart city running. But with China’s expanded nuclear and solar programs, energy seems to be the least of their worries.
Who said mass urbanization couldn’t work in the end?