Are cities and nature compatible? Can humans thrive in an urban setting, while nature is being restored, rather than destroyed, through human activities? For centuries, if not millennia, we have been unable to reconcile the two. The Untraceable City Project aims to investigate, through collaboration and involvement from a diverse group of partners and people, the feasibility of cities that are ecologically restorative. This project operates under the assumption that dramatic change does not come easily if we continue to operate within existing paradigms, and that thinking about doing something new and unencumbered can inspire people to pursue vastly different futures.
Can we set up a city that is 95% compostable? What happens if we bring together 1 million people and have them operate within strict physical material and environmental impact constraints, instead of operating within monetary constraints? Can we restore ecological systems from within cities, and still live inside of it in comfort?
The Untraceable City Project aims to answer these and other questions. This is an academic city-building exercise where scientific debate, empiric arguments, and utopian dreams come together to envision a radically new way of urban development. By its very nature, this is an interdisciplinary project that brings together industrial ecology, architecture, transportation, social sciences, ecological restoration, health, and other disciplines. Much like any real-life urban governance structure, this project requires teams from different disciplines to discuss, debate, and negotiate in order to reach consensus on the best possible way to structure this fictitious city.
The initial goal of this project is to use the scientific method to identify a healthy balance between limiting the environmental impact of the city's resource requirements, while maximizing both ecological restoration and human well-being within the city. Existing technologies, social and economic structures, and traditional city planning principles are removed from the equation in order to seriously consider the impact that dramatic paradigms shifts can bring. This project aims to provide a collection of integrated roadmaps that describe how each sector as well as the overarching social system can implement the most innovative (or perhaps at times ancient) technologies, fundamental social change, and how this fictitious, new city could be best set up.
The secondary goal is - after setting up a theoretical framework for this hypothetical 1-million people strong city - to try and make this city a reality. The practicality and reality of this happening likely sits right between overly ambitious and highly delusional. Nonetheless, at this point in time it seems worth striving for radical change - and this project aims to do just that.