Ikea's 'City Cookbook' Compiles Modern Innovations for Future City Planners

Made in collaboration with Space10, the book draws from innovations of 53 current cities.
Chris Young

A new book called 'The Ideal City', by Space10 and Ikea's Copenhagen-based innovation lab, compiles the best modern solutions to problems including climate change, the economy, and social conditions found in 53 current cities.

In doing so, it provides a guide, or city cookbook of sorts, to help future city planners consider how they can grow urban spaces sustainably.

In an interview with FastCompany, Space10 communications director Simon Caspersen says, "We have an unprecedented opportunity to rethink the way we design our cities to create a better, safer, healthier, and a more inspiring everyday life for the people living there, while boosting the local economy and also tackling the accelerating climate crisis head-on."

"What we realized is that our cities are planned, designed, and developed in silos, so we wanted to take a holistic approach by gathering world-leading thinkers, architects, designers, researchers, entrepreneurs, city planners, and community leaders around the same table," Caspersen continues.

The book draws from dozens of examples of urban innovation. Included in these are a heat pump attached to a line of the London Underground that captures the heat of a nearby train line and pipes it to nearby homes in the winter. Meanwhile, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, an office building covered in planters grows food for its workers. In Harbin, China, a park was recently built to act as a sponge for stormwater.

Of course, not all of the designs would work in any context. Caspersen explains that the book was devised almost like a "cookbook" that city planners could use to be inspired by the world's collective creativity.

The five core principles of the 'ideal city'

The team behind 'The Ideal City' posits that a city of the future should have five core principles: resourcefulness (meaning it is sustainable), accessibility (it is built for diversity), shareability (designed for community and social interaction), safety (referring to citizen safety as well as protection from climate impacts), and desirability (meaning it is an attractive city in which to live).  

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Caspersen and the team behind 'The Ideal City' argue that this is all achievable: "if 2020 showed us anything, it is that humanity has the capacity to respond—in solidarity, together—to our common challenges," he says.

All of this ties in to calls for guiding the post-pandemic "new normal" in a direction that drives humanity towards progress and innovation, rather than one that has it repeat the problems of its past.

This will largely depend on whether the smart cities of the future focus their implementation of AI, big data, and automation on working for their populations or whether it is used nefariously in a bid to control the masses.

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