TED Conversations

Josh Coulter

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Sunken Cities

This is an idea I've been tossing around for quite some time. I'll try to keep it brief, but the gist of my idea is that future cities are, essentially, built underground. Master-planned cities could be developed to be mainly underground, with open-air central areas built, much like an inverse skyscraper, to provide light and the like for the community.

Other aspects, such as housing, could branch off of this, underground. Mass transit would be built into the master plan, to reduce (or, hopefully, eliminate) the need for carbon-emitting vehicles. Exhaust from businesses or utilities would need to be reclaimed and recycled, in order to keep air clean in the further reaches of the community.

My proposed benefits:
- Reduction in land and forest destruction. Cities such as this would lessen the impact on the environment, animal habitats, and curb global warming by preventing the destruction of trees that absorb carbon.
- Focus on sustainability. Micro grids could be utiltized to power the cities by renewable energy sources. Energy use for heating and cool would be reduced due to the natural temperature regulating effects of being underground, and not being as susceptible to surface temperatures. Reclamation of exhaust would be necessary, forcing the advancement and innovation of such technology that could be used by legacy city systems.
- Community focus. These master-planned, underground cities would create an environment in which communal contact would be much more integral to the inhabitant's normal way of life. With this in mind, community centers would be a core focus of the development of the city.
- Natural parks. Since the surface wouldn't be destroyed for residential or commercial endeavors, it would remain in it's natural state. Building non-invasive walking paths and resting areas would give residents an easy-to-reach, natural sanctuary without having to travel far.

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  • Nov 19 2012: I think this sounds like an interesting idea. The biggest question would probably have to deal with the cost. Would be more expensive to build this city? It seems like it. I think this option will become much more viable if the population was in desperate need of housing. It almost seems like the resources spent on the underground city could build a slightly better above ground city.

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