Vertical cities: A solution to overpopulation

Vertical cities: A solution to overpopulation

Humanity is inextricably moving to cities, according to a recent UN report 2 out of 3 people are expected to be living in cities by 2050. With cities becoming a place of residence for most of the earth’s population, their architecture, structure, and ecology are bound to exert considerable impact on inhabitants. As the population increases, it puts stress on the earth’s natural resources to meet the rising demands. It brings up questions on how will people be able to get access to adequate drinking water, food, medical care, and even where will they stay. One of the proposed solutions has been vertical cities. Vertical cities can be much more than monolith luxury towers, they can be a place where people work, live, go to schools, get access to healthcare, etc.

Though a theoretical solution, vertical cities today hold the key to solving overpopulation and overcrowding. In the below article we look at what are vertical cities, their benefits, and how modern technology in the field of construction like prefabrication, BIM, etc. will enable their creation.

What are Vertical cities?

The concept of vertical cities is very simple, to build upwards instead of building outwards. This would be mean that in a small amount of places a vast number of people can be accommodated. Additionally, rather than destroying forests to build cities they can be placed in a vertical tower, thereby serving to conserve the environment. One proposed design has been an arrangement of interconnected mega towers that could be as tall as 400 floors and contain housing, stores, hospitals, schools, farms, and outdoor spaces, all in one interlocked building.


There have to be various considerations that must be kept in mind when it comes to designing vertical cities. Firstly, it would be essential to divide the complete city into zones, segregate the schools, office, living areas, etc. There would also have to be the scope of agriculture and farming towers to sustain the cities. Internal transportation will need to be fast and effective, perhaps a series of elevators and monorails. Moreover, proper and fast evacuation routes would have to be sorted. Finally, keeping the mental health of the inhabitants in mind there will also have to be options for leisure and recreation like movie theaters, parks, restaurants, etc.

Methods of construction:

Though we are perhaps decades away from actually developing a vertical city there are engineers who argue that the technology to do so already exists. With the Building information model, it is possible to virtually construct the building and check its feasibility. Moreover, while constructing something novel and big at the scale of vertical cities there will be a lot of disciplines and people involved. With enhanced collaboration and BIM Coordination Services, one can ensure that there is no miscommunication and there will be no errors on site which would have potential calamitous results.

Moreover, time would play a huge factor as building a vertical city could be a time-consuming process that could be plagued by issues of quality, lack of available labor, and cost. With prefabrication, a lot of the parts of the building could be built-in offsite locations only to be assembled later. Prefabricated building components are machine-made in a climate-controlled environment so it ensures that the quality is maintained as well as that there is no waste and it’s done in quick time.

Along with methods of construction there are various new materials that are being invented which are more durable and play a role in creating more sustainable buildings. For example, smart glass is made up of a special complex of nano-sputtering which allows to save light and preserve the heat coming from the sun. Another material gaining traction is 4D printing which refers to the 3D printed objects which have the ability to reshape or self-assemble over time.

The impact on Sustainability:

At the core of the idea of vertical cities lies sustainability. These cities must need to be self-sustaining which means there has to sources of renewable energy, sources of fresh air, and should also be capable of proving food sources.  The newest biotechnology of Aeroponics provides a possible way to actually farm. It is an artificially created climate for the growth and development of plants without the use of soil and substrates. Similarly, 6D BIM Services can be used to ensure the suitability levels of the building may it be by using better materials, calculating incident solar radiation per building surface, or finding out whether excessive energy is being consumed.

The Concept V/s Reality:

The very tall skyscrapers that we have today felt ambitious and unachievable nearly 50 years ago. Similarly, the concept of vertical cities today seems extremely ambitious. But architects have come up with theoretical designs which is perhaps the first step in the actual construction of such a city. Italian firm Luca Curci Architects, for instance, has created a design of a 180-floor vertical city that could support up to 25,000 people. Similarly, another idea has been proposed by the Russian Architect S. Nepomnyaschy. This would be a helix cluster project wherein 1 hectare of land with a height of up to 35 floors, there could be around 100,000 square meters of housing and 100,000 square meters of additional infrastructure, including offices, parks, traffic intersections, shopping areas, and service facilities available.

Final Thoughts:

As stated before the concept of vertical cities is today just theoretical and it is questioned whether such cities will be constructed in the coming decade, if ever. But it is worth noting that a lot of engineers and architects are actively pushing this design and in fact, many skyscrapers today carry a number of elements for such cities. For certain cities that are dealing with issues of overpopulation and lack of space like Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, the creation of vertical cities seems to be the next logical stage in development.

Written By:
Divya Dave
Divya Dave is a Senior Manager with Tesla Outsourcing Services. An engineer and management graduate, she has been working with the outsourcing industry now for more than a decade. With a passion for writing, she writes on topics that provide an insight into CAD, BIM, and 3D Visualization services for the Architectural, Structural, and MEP disciplines. Her focus is to enable architects and engineering professionals in the AEC industry to adopt the right technology so as to increase their efficiency and profitability.

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