21st Century City


Imagine a city designed from the ground up, designed with innovation, simplicity and detail in mind. Imagine a place with a different concept of time and of space. All that is needed in this city is present, the only resources needed from outside are the construction, but once the construction is done, the city is done. Mostly knowledge-based, this city will have everything that is needed to support a knowledge-based industry. This includes a university of top-notch calibre, a working/teaching hospital for the medical school of the university and for the residents of the city and plenty of technology lab space that can be used by both the university and the private technology sector. This isn't a city where Big Brother is always watching, but it is a city where everything is made easier.


The whole purpose of this city is to be a future city and to push the boundaries of technology, art, society, business, education, science and medicine in such a way as to bring benefits to all of the world in providing new ways of doing things, and new technologies to help along the way. Every aspect of this city will be thought out such that the best of what exists in the world today is incorporated. The places where we live, the way we work, the way we move around, the benefits of greenspace, sports and volunteering, all are things that will be introduced in this city.

Table of Contents

The Location

Because of the large footprint of this new city, a large empty area will need to be found. Since such places are hard to come by near any existing area, the location of this city will likely be rather far removed. Since Canada has such a wealth of hinterland, of desolate areas, finding such a place need not be terribly challenging. Such a location wouldn't need to be an air flight away, it could be near to an existing road structure, or a rail link could be built to link it to the rest of civilization. One example of a place would be just north of highway 17 near Deep River in Ontario on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river.


One of the large problems of cities today that are centuries old is the infrastructure that is suffering due to age and is difficult to correct since much of it is buried. A second large problem is the movement of goods and of people. Traffic congestion and gridlock cause delays, wasted time, pollution and bruise the road system that supports it all. What is being suggested here is a method to combat both of these large problems together, with a solution that includes the new technology system with a system of infrastructure that is easily updatable.

From the center of the city to the urban areas and the subarbs, the whole concept of underground will be altered. The easiest way to explain this is an an urban area of tightly nit housing like a row of townhouses. This row of townhouses is not dug into the ground, there is no subterranean basement, the house sits on a traditional cement slab which is leveled at ground level, and the ground floor becomes what is currently though of as the basement. Where currently a street would be that separates the two opposing rows of housing, there is now a platform built that is at the level where the ceiling of the ground floor would be. This would make it so that the front of the house has the front door on the second level, while the back of the house has a back door at the ground floor. In the 'tunnel' that exists beneath the platform there exists all of the components of the transportation system as well as all of the infrastructure needed (electricity, telephone, water, sewage, etc). In this way the problems of transportation and infrastructure are alleviated. The transportation system is described below, and with respect to infrastructure, it is no longer buried and it can easily be inspected, repaired or replaced.

Transportation System

As described above, a tunnel system has now been created to allow for a transportation system. This tunnel has not been dug into the ground (though in some places it may be), but for the most part sits at ground level in an enclosed passage that is bound by housing on either side with a platform above. For a person living in an urban area, they will have access to the transport system directly from their home. They have but to push a button to call for the transport car to arrive at their home, they then get in, key in their destination, and then the transport car takes them there. The person living in a subarb will have to walk to the closest transport car access point, never more than a ten minute walk, and at this transport car access point there will always be a transport car waiting.

The transport cars themselves run on rails which will decrease the amount of friction they have to face, they will be electric and they will be computer controlled. The transport car itself will be able to signal any junction in the rails to direct the transport car along its prescribed path. Once the charge on the transport car reaches a threshold, it would automatically go to a charging station, where it would automatically be charged, and then it would be released back into the system. On another threshold based on distance travelled or time in the system, the transport car would be taken out of the system to be inspected and cleaned.

The Layout

The nature of the city will be a large square, so for the purposes of design, a series of concentric squares would be designed. The central concentric square would be four blocks (square 0), each block will be a complete tower which includes all of residential, commercial and business space. Each tower will contain one of the four keys to this city. One tower will be the medical school and hospital, the second tower (technology) will be the engineering and computer science university with industry that uses these fields, the third tower will be the arts and science university with many laboratories, music hall, museums and so on, and finally the fourth tower will be the fitness center with all of the physical education needs filled. The next outer concentric square (square 1) will be more buildings which are two thirds the height of the central tower, and repeat the use of the inner four towers. The next concentric square (square 2) would be two thirds the height of the next inner one and contains mostly residential zoning for all of the people who work or go to school in squares 0 and 1. So the squares 0, 1 and 2 would be a mix of residential, commercial, educational and business, the third concentric square would be about as wide as the first and second and would be green space. It would be made up of a forest in one area, open green fields in another, a group of soccer fields, tennis courts, swimming pools in another area, and so on. Since this will be such a large green area, it will fuel the needs of outdoor space from all of the people living in squares 0 through 5.

Squares four through thirteen will have steadily decreasing height limits until the outer squares where population density is the lowest. After the major park of square 3, there are no more parks that take an entire concentric square, but there are a variety of parks distrubuted throughout the city. Greenspace is one of the keys of this city.

Self Sufficiency


Outside the outer perimeter of the city is a range of tall and powerful windmills that turn wind energy into electricity. In addition, solar panels on every flat roofed building accumulate photons from the sun, convert them into electricity and send that electricity into the power grid. Since all of the power infrastructure is protected from the natural environment, power loss would be limited to all of the windmills failing, or all of the solar panels failing. A quality system of balancing and checkpoints will be used based on whatever the best power system there is currently in the world.

Wherever energy efficiency can be improved, it will be; major and minor appliances, insulation, lighting, heating, cooling... all of these systems will have to pass a grade in order to be made available in this city. The design of every living or working space will be required to include any kind of passive solar design possible. The use of sky-lights for lighting will be encouraged to save on unnecessary daytime electricty usage, and the transportation system will be designed to be as efficient as possible with respect to delivery of service and energy consumption.

Food Supply

Hydroponic farms will play a large part in this city where healthy and fresh vegetables will be consumed by all. Dsitributed throughout the outer squares of the city, many small individual hydroponic farms will be built such that if any one becomes contaminated with disease, it will not affect any of the others. Hydroponic farms require water, growth nutrients and light. With this in mind, any farm that gets built will be on the sun-facing side of the city where it would never be shaded by any other building. During the summer there would be enough natural light that the high power consuming plant growing lights needn't be used, but in the fall and spring and especially in winter, these lights are what is needed to grow the plants. With respect to the growth nutrients, this city may need to import these growth nutrients until our science community comes up with the best way to produce them ourselves given the materials available in our city.

With respect to meat and dairy consumption, these are products that will have to come from outside of the city, as is the case with any other current city. In the case of this city, however, the farms will exist as close to this city as possible, and each of the involved farms will have to fill the requirements of being a modern and environmental practice. Ethical feeding practices, best waste management practices possible, adhering to the highest food production standards that exist in the world. Products like milk and eggs which are renewable (since the producing animal isn't killed), will be in general supply with a cost that is hardly different from any other city, but animals that are slaughtered will become more expensive. All prices of meat will become more expensive in this city because all slaughtering will have to conform to specific methods, and feeding will be limited to more expensive practices. The result will be a higher market price in the city, but still attainable to everyone, just with a smaller frequency.

Water Supply

An analysis will need to be done to determine, based on the size of this city, if one or more than one water treatment plant will be necessary. Whatever is the case, the most efficient and least waste-producing water and sewage treatment plant will be used. Water conservation measures will be used throughout the city with tools such as mandatory low flow outlets, water meters, and any new technology or strategy that may prove beneficial. Rain-fall will be collected from every rooftop and funneled into the sewage system to be processed and accumulated to put back into the water supply. Industrial use of water will be severly limited in this city, if any industry puts in a request to use water in their industry, the science and technology teams would work together to find a way for that industry to either do without the use of water, or to find a way for it to be used such that the consumption of it is severely limited.

Consumerism and Products

Since it would be impossible to create every product from within the confines of this city, and since it would also be impossible to regulate the business practices of any company that opens a retail store in the city, there would be little choice but to allow for any retailer to enter and run their business in this city. With respect to certain industries, however, there would be limitations.

Since the transportation system is operated by the city, there would be no automobile products. Since the energy sector is heavily regulated, anything that consumes power would have to be at the top of efficiency for that class of products.

Employment and Volunteering

One of the special laws in this city compared to the rest of the province or country, is that the work week is defined to be between 28 and 32 hours to be considered fulltime, and that a week with overtime is not allowed to be more than 40 hours. This will require employers to have more employees, will create a better work/life balance and will provide for having more people employed. One of the conditions of any person entering the city as a resident is that they also adhere to the volunteering policy, which is 5 hours of community work per week for twenty six weeks a year. Any volunteering that is mandatory isn't really voluntary, but what the person chooses to do during their time is up to them if it falls within the list of community needs.

Community needs could be so many different things. Based on your daytime job or skill, you may provide training to people two weeknights a week for thirteen weeks, twice a year. If you are qualified as a life guard, it may mean providing lunch coverage for the paid lifeguard one hour each weekday for twenty six weeks. If you are a musician, it may mean playing for the public, or teaching others how to play. If you have any artist skill, it may mean working with a team to re-decorate a public place from an artists perspective. The volunteer time may also be working at the hydroponic farms, or cleaning public spaces or working at the fitness center. If the purpose of learning a skill is to then use that skill for the community volunteer time, the training time for that skill could make up the volunteer time required. This time could be to visit with the elderly twice a week at retirement homes, or working at the hospital as a volunteer.

With this much volunteering, so much good will come, but there will also be the people who cheat the system. It will be on each person's honour that they do the volunteering, though in many of the cases listed above, the person will be able to receive a receipt for the time spent. In this way, any volunteer-team auditor can call upon any citizen and ask to see their volunteer receipts for the last twelve or twenty four months. Should any person not fulfill their volunteer time requirement, some penalty will be applied that is yet to be determined.


Every family home will be a part of a clearly defined neighbourhood. In the towers in square zero, one whole level of the tower may form one neighbourhood. In squares 1 and 2 they will be a group of apartments that all share a large common area. In the mid-squares of the city, a neighbourhood will by fairly dense housing but not stacked on each other, while the outer squares of the city will be neighbourhoods where each home is separate. What each neighbourhood has in common is a large common area that is to be shared by everyone in that neighbourhood. This large common area would include the daycare and primary school, it would include a small fitness center, a dining hall and kitchen that is large enough to handle the whole neighbourhood, and other shared common spaces. There will be a few things that are standard in all neighbourhoods, the daycare, school and dining area with a kitchen, but other than that, there will be a wealth of space available to the neighbourhood for the members to decide what to do with it. For some it may mean building a large jungle gym for the children, for others it may mean building a huge gaming hall, for others a large theatre. Each neighbourhood has the opportunity to decide what to do with the shared space to the benefit of the neighbourhood. A consensus method of making decisions will be made to decide what will be done on an on-going basis in these shared areas.

The idea here is that everyone in the neighbourhood should get to know everyone else, that children who grow up in this neighbourhood have the benefit of having many different role models and teachers. Any stranger who appears in the neighbourhood would easily be singled out, so robbery from someone outside the neighbourhood would be greatly diminished. No one loses their privacy or their right to be alone, for every family in the neighbourhood they have their proper residence where any person can be by themselves or have their own space, but everyone will be encouraged to participate in the community.

Education and daycare

Since the government in Canada already provides a year's worth of maternity leave, this will remain in place in this city. However, employers will be required to add to the income that the government provides. In the case of small business, this will be a small stipend that is supplemented from the city. In the case of medium sized business, the company will be required to pay more while the city pays less and finally the large businesses will pay the total of the difference between the government's 55% of a max of 40K and this city's maternity pay of 75% of a max of 50K.

Daycare, which starts for a child if their mother returns to work, will be subsidized by the government where the subsidy will be tied to the family income up to a maximum amount. There will be one daycare for each neighbourhood, where in each neighbourhood one of the members will run the daycare, if no one in the neighbourhood steps up, a daycare manager will be provided by the city. The daycare facility is saddled with the primary school facility, which is also at the neighbourhood level.

The primary school facility will bring the students from day care age to high school age and provide them with regimented and student-directed learning time. A focus on creativity, fundamentals, confidence building and learning skills will be made. This will be like the old schools where students of mixed ages will all be in the same room, but there will never be very many students in these classes since there is one such school in each neighbourhood. By having different age groups, older children can take part in helping the younger children to learn, this increases communication and learning skills in the older children while at the same time helps the younger children get more one on one time. By having the children grow up in the day care and in the same primary school as each other, they will develop strong friendships with their neighbourhood friends.

There will be a number of highschools in the city that teach children from about the age of 11 until they are 17. Should they go on to university, they would go on immediately after that. High schools will focus on having continued small class sizes, many different options available, challenging curriculum while still allowing kids to be kids and have fun.

Finally, there is university. University will not be free and will not allow all students to enter. University is not meant for all students. If any student shows the right aptitude combined with the right interest, then they can apply to enter any of the three universities in the city: technology, medical or art/science. Once accepted, a financing plan will need to be made which is either payment they can accumulate while working, payments from family, or an arranged student loan. University costs will be subsidized by the city, paid for by industry, and covered by the students. Any company that wants to benefit by being tied to any of these three universities must sign a waiver indicating that they are not to influence the direction of study, or to modify any lab or test results. Detailed reporting and auditing will take place and made public to ensure that this close tie between industry and education is kept above board.

The medical university will be like none other that currently exists. The first few years of class room training will remain, and will span the year with a small quarterly break. At no time will the medical student be required to pull all-nighters due to tight timelines. Once in the hospital training stage, extra-long shifts will not be part of the training. Any student (or employee) of the hospital will have strictly regulated hours such that no person unless under desperately needed circumstances, will be required to work more than eight hours in any twenty hour period, and never more than six consecutive days without having the three following days off.

The technology university will have two extended terms per year, a winter and a spring/summer. Winter will go from September through February, with two weeks off in December, and spring/summer will go from March to the end of July. The reason for the extended terms is because these university programs will have heavy lab times, requiring students to spend almost as much time in a lab as they spend in a class room. Industry requires students who have not just learned the material, but have worked with it, so students will learn the fundamentals while at the same time seeing them and working with them in practice.

The arts and science university will have the standard three term cycle with a shortened and more intense summer cycle followed by a fall and winter term. Students in this program may opt out of the summer cycle to find summer jobs or to work full time during the summer months on their arts projects. Students in the science program can use this time to do research on a specific topic that interests them, or to intern in a research lab.

Finances and City Services

As with any business unit, there is a division of revenue and expenses. Some of the expenses of a typical city are either eliminated or tremendously lessened in this city. Road repair, paving, snow plowing, traffic police, road maintenance crews, highway patrol, road signage and anything else with respect to transportation is either eliminated or lessened. With the new transportation system there will still be maintenance crews and there will still be some amount of repair of the tracks, but these amounts will be less, and in many cases they will not exist at all.

Other expenses will go up, however, daycare subsidy, maternity subsidy, all educational amounts and health care amounts. It could be that this city receives some amount of funding for health and education from the provincial and federal levels of government, and that all other city funding must come from the city itself. If this is the case, then this city becomes a viable project.

A principal of economy will be instituted to make living in the city very affordable for residents. Since the city is being built in an area of low land costs, that low land cost will be passed on to the residents, even in the square zero residents. In the constitution of this city, the cost of the land portion of anyone's property will be tied to inflation, not tied to the market or area. The idea here is that housing costs have to be low so that residents can afford to pay the extra fees that are needed to make this city run.

Since each family or resident will no longer need to own a car, pay for fuel, pay for a license, pay for car insurance, all of that saving will be converted into payments for the transportation system. The transportation system will be free for all users at all times, and will be paid for by a transportation tax collected from all of the residents. In this way the operating cost of the transportation system is decreased by virtue of the fact that there is no ticketing, there is no slow down at terminals to collect money and there is no need to pay ticketing agents. As with every other department of the city, the financing of the transportation system will be completely transparent. On a publicly available website, the transportation department will show exactly what all of the revenues are, and exactly what all of the expenses are. The goal of this department will be to have no profit, to be self sufficient. Bureacracy will be kept to an absolute minimum, the large majority of employees will be the maintenance teams.

With respect to waste removal and recycling, every home that has direct access to the transport system will have a bin for compost, a bin for paper, a bin for plastic, a bin for metal and a bin for glass. Each bin will be in a specific place in the wall that faces the tunnel, and when any of these bins are full, a button beside that bin needs to be pushed, and then sometime in the near future a waste disposal team employee will show up and empty the bin. For neighbourhoods that only have one access to the transport system, someone in the neighbourhood will be elected to pick up all of the different bins from all of the houses into a master bin, and then provide that master bin to the transport system. It will be up to the neighbourhood to determine the frequency and timing and method of how the master bin gets to the transport system, but once they have that figured out, all they need to do is push the button to call the waste disposal team who will then show up in the near future and pick it up. With respect to the waste disposal team, this is a job that runs sixteen hours a day, six days a week. The calls from residents are sent to the transport car of the employee and is placed in an order that corresponds to the route that the employee is already on. Once the employee's transport car is full from all of the pick-ups, they are sent to the nearest (of wherever they are) recycling plant and unload their car there. Then they go back to their list of pickups. At any time the employee can call for a break and override the route they are doing in case of an emergency. The cost here is shared between the city and the residents in that the residents are already paying for the transport system, the residents are already bringing their waste and recycling to the transport system doors and the city is paying the waste disposal team from the fee that residents pay to the city for waste disposal. As with all other departments, this is completely transparent where on a publicly available website any resident can see what the total revenue was for the fees collected for waste disposal, and what the total costs were, this department also aims to be non-profit.

For fire prevention and protection services every humanly occupied space will be required to have a sprinkler system installed. Also, each of those spaces will also have to have a fire alarm that is connected to the power grid (so batteries never die) and which also have a battery backup. The idea here is that prevention is the first key to safety, but the second key is immediate response, which is what a sprinkler system does. In the event that emergency personnel are needed, the whole concept of firetruck will be different. Every subarban home is outfitted with an outlet to which a fire-hose can be connected. Every urban street is lined with hydrants that are shared between three houses. Every city building has proper fire escape paths. The details of how the firemen get to the fire still need to be worked out.

With respect to police and a police presence, police will always have access to a high priority path through the transportation system. The owner of a home has a list of people whom they have allowed to access their entry via the transportation system, and for everyone in the city, the police force is on this list. The police force will also be highly visible downtown, in public places, at special events and so on. Courtesy and respect will be critically important keys for the conduct of this city's police force. In the same way that the police have access to every entry door of the city, so too do the emergency services department, which includes disaster recovery, medical emergency and any other kind of emergency.