Cliff City project: A model of sustainable urban development

As the world enters a new millennium, urban planners are grappling with new ways of building sustainable urban spaces. Presently, most cities across the world are too congested for its inhabitants. On top of this, urban dwellers’ preference for owning cars contributes to the growing volumes of toxic waste. This directly leads to the phenomenon of global warming and its attendant environmental catastrophes. It is in this context that we need to study the model design of the Cliff City project, off the coast of Portland, Dorset. Conceived and designed by Hannah Chalmer-Stevens, the objective of the project is to build a sustainable and environmentally friendly wave and wind farm.

The central theme of the Cliff City project is ‘green’ architecture, meaning that it firmly lays emphasis on sustainability and preservation of surrounding ecology. Apart from the usual urban provisions for a library, pub and café, the project features such innovations as roof-top gardens and has equipment installed for tapping wind and solar energy. Examples such as these not only point the future direction of urban architecture, but also expose the deficiencies of conventional methods of design and construction that was insensitive to the demands of the environment. For example, urban planners throughout the twentieth century paid very little attention to how their constructions will interact with the enveloping environment. The design of Cliff City project near Portland, Dorset breaks away from this tradition, in that it sees architecture as an organic enterprise. It is also informed by the drawbacks of traditional styles of architecture, as it attempt to incorporate remedial measures toward preservation of organic world. In this respect, the Cliff City stands as a near-perfect model for the perusal of urban planners.

Planet Earth is already being damaged by industrial effluents, over-exploitation of water resources, alarming levels of toxic pollutants like carbon monoxide and the phenomenon of Global Warming. In the backdrop of humanity’s appalling record at preserving the natural environment, projects such as the Cliff City, serve as ideal examples of how urban architecture should to be approached in the future. Cliff City’s more relevant today than at any time in the past, as planet earth is confronted with problems of over-population, increased urbanization, genetically modified seeds in agriculture, rising sea levels, etc. A good starting point for mitigating this precarious situation would be the adoption of sustainable city and the Cliff City provides a good example of this concept.


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