Skolkovo on New Cities


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Notes on the New Cities Foundation and their New Cities Summit in Paris by Seda Pumpyanskaya, Vice President International Relations and Communications, Skolkovo Foundation.

Published in: Technology, Real Estate
  • The term 'Utopia' used to mean some FICTIONAL ideal community. It's time to make that ideal REAL. If not now, with all our technologies and knowledge then when?...
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Skolkovo on New Cities

  1. 1. Notes from SkolkovoIn the United States, in the 1960s, the concept of the master planned communitytook on a decidedly negative image: Homogenous, bland designs, monuments tourban sprawl.But since then, and particularly recently, “master planned” has been replaced by theidea of “smart” communities and “new”cities, architecturally inspired, energyefficient, with a comprehensive emphasis on the technology infrastructure to makethem all run smoothly. Suddenly, New Cities and Smart Communities are cool, derigueur -- a white hot trend that offers big-time opportunities and challenges forurban growth experts, technology infrastructure engineers, architects, constructionworkers, materials providers and hundreds of other industries. They are enormousundertakings with giant economic, developmental and social ramifications the likesof which the global population has never seen. But how to plan them? How to makethem efficient, thriving, sustainable, supportive and scalable?These are massive projects with massive potential. By 2050, the world’s urbanpopulation will double to 7 billion people. The New Cities Summit in Paris nextmonth will bring together 800 global decision makers, including mayors, CEOs,academics, researchers, entrepreneurs and visionaries. We’ll discuss the themesI’ve mentioned before, along with transportation, water, green architecture all in aneffort not to just to support the world’s peoples, but to give us all the ability tothrive. Real issues, real opportunities that will lead to real results.The New Cities Foundation says the scale and pace of 21st century urbanization issimply unprecedented; that in the coming decades urban development will exceedthe urban growth of the past 200 years. Construction in India and China isstaggering. And we’re not talking about hundreds of homes here, and several officebuildings there. This is about thousands of cities being planned and built that willhouse millions of people and play host to thousands of companies drivingeconomies all over the world. Humankind has never seen growth and expansion atthis pace; planning is critically important.That’s where sustainability comes in: Not in an energy efficient kind of way, butwhat will keep these new cities alive? What will allow for the kind of economicexpansion and opportunities that keep residents from migrating to another smartcommunity elsewhere?One intriguing development already underway can be found outside Moscow. Thinkof Russian planned communities from the 1950s and 1960s and you probably seemonolithic, gigantic buildings that seem like human warehouses. We can find thesame kinds of developments in the United States, and China, and communitiesthroughout Europe and South America. Skolkovo is anything but. On the other sideof the spectrum are those ultra-modern, ultra-urban, shiny, slick science and
  2. 2. technology parks that have sprung up in parts of China, Korea, Malaysia, Japan andparts of the United States. Again, Skolkovo is anything but.Instead, Skolkovo is a product learned from decades of urban planning anddevelopment lessons against a backdrop of a new era of innovation and the hugefinancial and social benefits of the IT economy. Skolkovo has even coined its ownterm for the kind of community it is creating: The “Innocity,” or science andtechnology park meets suburbia, blending innovation and comfort, a kind of societalincubator that warms growth and potential. The development will become a beaconthat attracts people, companies, innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers,governments, schools and educators. Instead of a community existing, and hopinggrowth just happens, Skolkovo is being designed from the ground up (literally!) toattract the necessary ingredients that will guarantee growth – and have thenecessary scalable smart infrastructure to accommodate it.And not merely a theory, Skolkovo is already a city under construction, its 400developed hectares will be home to 26,000 people and become the workplace for31,000, and completed by 2015. The thing about Skolkovo though is that like thetechnology and innovation the region hopes to incubate, the city itself will link withother smart developments around the globe, sharing successes and failures andlessons learned, partnering with others who are embarking on projects of their own.If it all sounds too good to be true, understand that mankind thought the telephonewas the ultimate communications tool until the internet came along. Look what thattechnology has done to shrink the world and exponentially expand commerce andopportunity and intelligence and collaboration. New Cities and Smart Communitieswill do much the same thing but on an even greater level, not in the cloud, but on theground, not in the ether, but face to face, home to home, office to office, park to park,from one resident to another.The concept of “Utopia” has certainly evolved over the ages; today’s technology inthe hands of today’s visionaries makes achieving that goal far more reachable thanever before.Seda PumpyanskayaVice President International Relations and CommunicationsSkolkovo Foundation