Monday, October 26, 2015

EPCOT: The smart city of the future that (sadly) remained a vision

E.P.C.O.T aerial view
[Image Source]
In 1965, Walt Disney had a vision: To build the city of the future that would highlight the best of city planning and serve as a living laboratory for U.S. technology companies. Disney called this utopian city E.P.C.O.T. - the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. [More information here].

This video explains Disney's vision for E.P.C.O.T. in his own words.:

Unfortunately, Disney didn't live to see E.P.C.O.T. becoming realty. After his death, his visionary plans were changed drastically. Today, E.P.C.O.T. can be seen in two forms:

1) As a themepark: The Epcot park (as part of Disneyworld in Florida) is a combination of science and technology-themed rides and a permanent world fair. This park is called Epcot (without the meaning of the acronym) and opened in 1982. Rather then a living city where innovations are being tested in real-life, Epcot features rides showcasing technology and science.

2) In the 1990s, Disney's plans to create the 'perfect' town took on another form. The sub-urban part of E.P.C.O.T. became a city in itself - called 'Celebration' (Florida). Designed by the Disney corporation, Celebration is a master-plan city in an early 20th-century architectural style. Today, Celebration has a population of around 7'500. Instead of the futuristic urban vision of E.P.C.O.T, Celebration aims to be the 'ideal' middle and upper-class sub-urban town. However, this utopia is strictly regulated (similar to the artificially-created experience in a Disney themepark).

E.P.C.O.T could be considered a precursor to the current trend of 'smart cities'. Smart cities incorporate networked technology in all aspects of live in an attempt to make cities more efficient, cleaner, and safer. An example of a smart city is Songdo City in South Korea, the self-proclaimed 'most modern city in the world'. By 2020, more than 250'000 people are expected to live in Songdo Eco-City.
Songodo City
[Image source:]
Another example of a smart city is Masdar City in Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates). The first phase of the city is expected to be completed in 2015. Final completion is scheduled to occur between 2020 and 2025. About 50'000 people are expected to live in the planned city. Masdar City has a strong focus on solar energy and other renewable energy sources.
Masdar City
[Image source:]