Future city skylines

12 June 2018

Architecture and technology are advancing rapidly and this is impacting on our cities, changing the way they look and feel.

At the same time, urban populations are growing and by 2050 it is predicted that 66% of the world’s population will live in urban areas, compared to 54% today.

These changes and the uncertainty surrounding them make it difficult to imagine what our cities will look like in the future. However, Budget Direct Travel Insurance has attempted it, visualising what seven famous cities will look like if all their most ambitious architectural projects come to fruition.


Manhattan’s silhouette is already iconic but the city’s architectural ambition isn’t showing signs of letting up, with big projects, the U-shaped Big Bend and Times Squared 3015, being proposed.


Although Bangkok buildings tended to be low-rise, since the unregulated building frenzy of the 1980s, the city now has nearly 600 skyscrapers. As a result, the future will inevitably see more high rises, as well as cycle lanes, green spaces and communities elevated above rising water levels.


The Burj Khalifa seems to just be the start of Dubai’s urban expansion, with a 75km Arabian Canal and 420m rotating Dynamic Tower planned as potential developments.


The Moscow City International Business Centre includes three of Europe’s tallest buildings but even these will be dwarfed by Norman Foster’s ambitious Crystal Island project. If it’s ever built, this will the largest structure on earth.

Rio de Janeiro

The architectural variety of Rio will continue thanks to the use of marine farms, island-based developments and futuristic favela re-designs that can provide healthy, walkable and self-organised living environments.  


London will most probably continue its move towards contemporary architecture, with skyscrapers including 30 St. Mary Ave (The Gherkin) and 20 Fenchurch St (The Walkie Talkie) and an Endless Vertical City planned.


Paris’ pre-war architecture such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe take centre stage but the city is also considering ‘farmscapers’ and ‘smart green buildings’ for the future.


As the editor of BUILD I have a keen interest in sustainable housing and new technologies.