'My Edinburgh will...' - Edinburgh in the Year 2050

16 September 2018

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Lucky visitors and residents in Edinburgh were invited recently to experience a taxi ride with our friends at City Cabs, taking them on a tour of how Edinburgh might look in the year 2050. Our team created some inspiring sketches based on ideas by Theo, our guest futurist. Read on for a glance into what could be in our city’s future, and be inspired by the Edinburgh of tomorrow…

Meadows/University area

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Now over 920 years since Edinburgh was first named a Royal Burgh, 2050 will also see the 468th anniversary of the founding of the University of Edinburgh, and yet the city and university have never been more forward-looking.

A centre of thought and emerging tech, the university’s campus has ‘moved into’ the Meadows – though not in the way you might expect. Traditional classrooms don’t exist here. Instead, pod-like structures and open amphitheatre-style spaces ‘pop up’ as required, meaning the area remains open, green and welcoming to the public.

None of the trees have been uprooted or destroyed over the past three decades – meaning the space is still as green and leafy as ever.

Over the Cowgate

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Continuing on up George IV Bridge, you cross over the Cowgate, where a look to the left gives a view of the unobtrusive glass canopy built in 2044 that covers the Grassmarket. Similar to those over Berlin’s Reichstag and London’s British Museum, the canopy provides a protective shelter over one of the oldest areas in the city.

Not just a protection against poor weather (meaning the Farmers’ Market can run uninterrupted), the canopy acts as a solar generator, powering the buildings underneath that cannot be retrofitted with solar panels. This preserves their architecture for future generations to enjoy, while also providing a new projection location for spectacular light shows, with the Castle providing as grand a backdrop as ever.

Parliament Square

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Crossing over the Royal Mile, on your right is Parliament Square – or as it’s now affectionately nicknamed, The Creators’ Quarter – a mirror-image of Paris’ famous Artists’ Square.

While equipped with modern street furniture and lighting, the area will be a place where Edinburgh residents congregate to create art while taking a break from the buzz of modern technology - a haven in the same manner that turning off your smartphone can be in 2018.

Princes Street & The New Town

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Making your way down the Mound and across Princes Street, this is an area that has changed a lot since 2018. Greener, and more pedestrian-friendly, the street is now focused on being a healthier co-working environment that supports working office spaces coupled with family accessibility.

Unused units along the street – however temporary – are put into use as vertical farms, with several outlets along the street acting as greengrocers meaning the people of Edinburgh can buy fresh produce directly. Vertical farming techniques - being trialled today in 2018 in Scotland – would allow for growing conditions from anywhere in the world to be recreated, allowing almost any fruit or vegetable to be grown in the Scottish capital.

Large 3D screens located throughout Princes Street Gardens project cultural events – including Fringe performances – but without intrusive noise pollution. Residents will be able to tune into audio using devices they will carry everywhere in 2050, meaning the tranquillity of the area will be maintained at all times.

The ‘always online’ culture of 2050 means that shopping in Edinburgh is very different. Maintaining its proud heritage, Edinburgh’s city centre has shied away from bright, intrusive lighting along the street and shopfronts – instead, discrete holographic advertising displays and holographic shopping assistants make the in-person shopping experience truly unique.

George Street, Rose Street and the surrounding New Town are the retail and nightlife districts of the city centre, keeping the city as community-friendly as possible.

Leith Walk

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Turning right onto Queen Street, you're now heading towards Leith Walk. Here, the street has been partially pedestrianised, with one side of the street free from transport allowing free movement for people – the other side acting as a two-way traffic system.

Raised walkways, lush and green provide easy-crossing for pedestrians, meaning no break in your journey in your automated, self-driving taxi down the Walk.

The Waterfront

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You’re approaching your destination now. Home.

Many areas of the city have been regenerated, from the Waterfront to Granton to Wester Hailes. Social housing is now at the standard of most privately-owned homes, built from eco-friendly materials which are largely 3D-printed – just as they are beginning to be in Dubai.

Homes will be self-sustaining, with power drawn in part from recycling household waste and gardens on every roof, with artificial intelligence managing each home. Granton was the first area in Edinburgh to benefit from this super-community approach, known as the First Quarter, started in 2035 and completed in 2050.

This is just a vision of what Edinburgh could be in 2050. Have your say and tell us what your future Edinburgh will be like at edinburgh2050.com >