In its January 2013 issue of Foresight [PDF], the engineering firm Arup imagines the urban building of the near future, pegging its design on the following question:
"As city living takes center stage, what will we come to expect from the design and function of urban structures and buildings?"
The essential characteristics of this urban structure adapted to the needs of society in the year 2050 include: flexible structures, the cultivation of sustainable resources, reactive facades, community integration and smart systems.
Manifesto-like and predicated on meeting the needs of a realtime technology-savvy dense urban population in constant flux and facing demographic shifts and natural resource scarcity, this uber building features modular components, phase change materials, timber-based structural framing, photovoltaics in paint form, algae bio-fuel cells, urban food production layers with integrated water collection and filtration systems, a building membrane that converts CO2 to oxygen through nanoparticles and provides interior climate control, communal space, data networking and integrated shared transportation systems.
The building functions as a "smart environment" linked into the urban infrastructure and is self-repairing through automated systems and onsite digital fabrication resources, which allow for customization.