Are Vertical Cities the Answer to the Country’s Overpopulation Problem?

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The overpopulation problem of the Philippines will only get worse over the years if nothing is done about it. Are vertical cities the answer to this socioeconomic social issue?

The Philippine population stood at about 101.0 million people as of August 1, 2015, according to the 2015 Census of Population. The figure represented an 8.6 million increase from the 2010 census that estimated a population of 92.3 million people, translating into an average population growth rate of 1.7 percent per year from 2010 to 2015.

The Philippine Statistics Authority, meanwhile, estimated the country’s population to have reached 106.2 million by Q2 2018, further rising over the next couple of decades to 142 million by 2045.

The rapidly rising numbers raise concerns on the overpopulation problem in the Philippines, as this issue further strains already limited resources, including the necessities of food and shelter.

One of the more economical and sustainable solutions that were proposed to solve overpopulation was the creation of vertical cities. This not only refers to residential properties but building spaces that also incorporate retail, leisure, office, education, medical and possibly government services. The proposal for vertical cities looks to help in reducing pollution, easing traffic, and providing better resource management.

The Logic of Going Vertical

Living in horizontal spaces covers a wider area compared to living in vertical spaces. To illustrate, a 250-square-meter lot may house one or two families, but a 1,000-square-meter lot where a condominium is built will not only have four times the number of families, but rather that figure multiplied by the number of storeys that will be reserved for residential purposes.

Vertical developments will maximize each square meter of each floor of a condominium, with multiple units per floor while also offering space for common areas. Without the gardens or garages that take up space in house-and-lot units, more individuals and families will be able to occupy the space.

Condominiums Transform Into Vertical Cities

Condominiums transform into vertical cities upon the inclusion of other urban necessities in the space, such as retail shops, restaurants, and medical establishments. Complete vertical cities will reduce the need for residents to travel certain distances to get to where they need to go, reducing traffic and the number of pollution-causing vehicles on the road.

Vertical cities, ideally, will have linked structures to minimize the need for a road network within the community. Mobility will be happening above, an engineering challenge that has attracted the attention of the best minds in the industry.

Kenneth King, co-author of Vertical City: A Solution for Sustainable Living, said that the concept is to build within a space of half a mile by half a mile, or about 0.8 kilometers by 0.8 kilometers, as such an area allows people to reach any other place within the vertical city in 15 minutes or less by walking.

To create the book, King and co-author Kellogg Wong interview over 30 of the top architects, urban designers, engineers, microbiologists, transportation experts, and sustainability experts in the world.

Real-world examples of vertical city concepts in action may be found in the Burj Khalifa, with its multi-deck sky lobbies and sky bridges. There is more potential in China, where the Shanghai Tower, Jin Mao Tower and Shanghai World Finance Centre, the world’s first cluster of adjacent supertall buildings, are just across the street from one another on ground level.

The Need for Vertical Cities

The United Nations estimates that 55 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2018, with more individuals and families coming in from rural areas. The figure is expected to grow to 68 percent by 2050, with 90 percent of the increase happening in Asia and Africa.

The Philippines will likely follow this trend. Mega Manila, which includes Metro Manila and the surrounding regions of Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and parts of Mimaropa, was estimated to be home to 38 percent of the country’s population back in 2010. The percentage is widely believed to be much higher by now, and it will keep rising as people seek the opportunities and conveniences of living in developed cities.

Vertical cities will open up land for other purposes, such as food production, and will minimize the need to create new roads to prepare for the impending urban sprawl. However, the higher population density, or the number of people within a square meter, should still be balanced with a humane way of living.

The purpose of creating vertical cities is to create spaces where individuals and families may comfortably live, so residential units should not be cramped. Vertical cities should also still encourage human interaction through areas that will allow people to congregate and socialize with one another. Lastly, vertical cities should also promote business opportunities, while providing a chance to appreciate culture and arts.

Vertical Cities Will Not Solve Overpopulation on Their Own

The shortage of living areas in the Philippines, particularly in Manila, is one of the symptoms of overpopulation. Establishing vertical cities may prove to be one of the most effective ways of allowing more people to share living spaces within smaller pieces of land, but it will not solve the overpopulation issue on its own.

Poverty has been seen as one of the results of overpopulation, but it is being argued that poverty is actually the cause for the social problem. Some say that overpopulation is stretching the country’s resources too thin so not everyone is able to live comfortably and fall into poverty, while some say that poverty is leaving families with no choice but to procreate and hope for a better future. While the debate rages on from either side, both issues are becoming even more prevalent in the Philippines.

In any case, the truth is that the issue of overpopulation will not simply go away with the creation of more vertical cities. It will help, but such projects will require the support of various sectors of the government and the community in the bid to silver the overpopulation problem.

Sources: Philippine Statistics Authority, Businessworld

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