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City of the Eco-Bridge

The Ecotopia 2121 Project details the futures of 100 real world cities across the globe as though they've somehow overcome all environmental challenges and become super-ecofriendly. This month, we highlight the future of Bristol, England.

Bristol claims to have been a significant city of the Industrial Revolution. It was the birthplace of the famous engineer Isambard Brunel; builder of grand 19th century bridges, canals, and railways in Britain and across the world.

Bristol nowadays claims to be a Green Capital of Europe, officially being awarded the title in 2015. This was met with varying degrees of skepticism by Bristol’s residents since many note how bad the traffic is and how badly polluted some of the city’s waterways are.

In Bristol 2121, the engineering vision of Brunel is combined with a massive renewable energy project. A tidal bridge between Bristol and the Welsh city of Cardiff is built across the Bristol Channel. The channel has one of the strongest daily tidal movements in the world, and as the water flows in and out every day, the energy is harvested to power much of southern England and southern Wales.

Bristol in 2121

As well as this, a long slender city is built upon the bridge -- a mixed zone for residence, retail, entertainment, education, small industry, and healthcare -- everything a normal city needs.

What the bridge city does not need are huge roadways since no one needs a car. As a mixed zone, people can live and work and shop and play and go to school, all within walking distance.

The bridge city is populated by skinny architecture. Skinny buildings consume less space and require less maintenance. Plus, fewer materials are used in their construction, making them much more eco-friendly and cost-effective. Many of these skinny buildings also have micro-gardens, and not huge sprawling lawn gardens. This means that their water needs are less than half that of the average suburban home. And because they are attached to the building next door, they are twice as easy to heat or cool compared to conventional single-family detached homes in Bristol.

For the complete story of Bristol 2121, see the Ecotopia 2121 project book.

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