As megacities take a lead role amongst the proactive doers in COP21 Climate Conference in Paris, the latest edition (nb 77) of Institut Choiseul’s Géoéconomie publishes my article (in French) on cities reasserting themselves as the ideal spot for technological and societal innovation.
Ever since they appeared about ten thousand years ago, urban centres have served the dual purpose of bringing together talent from various disciplines, and facilitating trade. By fostering both the production of novel ideas, and their access to markets, cities have offered an ideal space for innovation to blossom. Eclipsed for a while by all-powerful Nation-States, cities are back on the innovation stage, as three factors conspire to bring them to the fore: Read more…
More than half of humanity now lives in cities, a proportion that is expected to rise to three-quarters within the next 30 years. Squeezed between the critical mass of cities and the realities of the global economy, the traditional power of Nation-States is waning. Nationalists and protectionists of all kinds may not like it, but there is no way back. Nations are becoming ineffective at driving change, as politicians on any national stage are increasingly perceived as out-of-touch and their now structural inability to mobilize capital makes them irrelevant. Conversely, cities are rapidly appearing as the right perimeter to implement change. This is why this year’s MIT Europe conference “a blueprint to the future” is so heavily focused on urbanism.
Cableways evoke primarily memories of mountain resorts and viewpoints. Aiguille du Midi in France, Rote Nasse in Switzerland, Plateau Rosa in Italy fly over stunning Alpine sceneries. Masada cableway in Israel, Table Mountain aerial cableway in South Africa, or Rio cable car in Brazil reach the top of mountains or plateaus otherwise difficult to access and no less stunning. Naturally, when we think cable car, we think going up, usually in a site of natural beauty.
Yet, slowly but surely, cableways have been finding their ways in cities, not only cities built at the foot of some sort of mountain such as Cape Town, Rio or Barcelona, but also cities as flat as London, Cologne or New York. In most cases, their purpose is to fly over a natural obstacle such as a river, but increasingly projects are popping up left and right for cableways flying across industrial areas or simply districts too densly populated to contemplate street level infrastructure. The idea may not be entirely new, but judging by the number of projects, it looks like an idea whose time has come. Here are a few reasons why.