Mr. Ratti, do we even need Smart Cities?
Yes. We may not want them, but we need them. Our cities are full of shortcomings, which are clearly reflected in traffic and pollution. We are continually striving for a better quality of life, but the only way we can achieve this is with technology and progress. In fact, there are many ways technology can improve a city. Singapore does a lot in terms of mobility, Boston with citizen participation, Copenhagen with sustainability. What is certain is that our cities must become better, and by that I mean above all more environmentally friendl.
And how exactly can we make the city of tomorrow more sustainable?
We shouldn’t build it the way we did in the twentieth century—a lot of resources were wasted back then. Cities weren’t planned in an optimal and useful manner. There was a greater focus on densifying the space and creating a separate living space for everyone. As a result, many things were not used as effectively as they could have been. One example is our apartments, which are empty most of the time. Technology such as realtime data could make it possible to use all areas of life more efficiently.
So sustainability is about efficiency?
Not just that. In the twentieth century, people filled the landscape with cities. Today it’s exactly the other way around in that we want to bring nature back into the city. My design office and I recently designed a pavilion for the opening of this year’s Design Week in Milan. It stood on the Piazza del Duomo, had a garden in the middle and emulated all four seasons.