Bill Gates Building Futuristic 'Smart City' in the Arizona Desert

Tuesday, 14 November 2017 - 10:24AM
Tuesday, 14 November 2017 - 10:24AM
Bill Gates Building Futuristic 'Smart City' in the Arizona Desert
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Image credit: YouTube
A fresh start is very difficult to achieve in building the cities of the future—unless, of course, you're Bill Gates.

Once upon a time, when science fiction authors thought of the future, they imagined glistening towers of glass and steel, in perpetually beautiful environments.

Everything would logically be new and shiny and bright, without a hint of old-world awkward architecture or imperfect city planning.

As it turns out, the future doesn't quite look so flawless—instead of knocking down all our old buildings and starting afresh, we have a habit of building sleek new landmarks right next to crummy old buildings. 

But Bill Gates is up to the challenge.

The enormously successful founder of Microsoft has purchased approximately 24,800 acres of land in Arizona, approximately 45 minutes away from Phoenix, with the express purpose of building a "smart city" that will be designed and built from the start with modern technological needs in mind.

Self-driving cars, environmentally friendly energy sources, and glorious high-speed internet access for everyone. Heck, who knows. Maybe even a Hyperloop in years to come.

Certainly, it's the kind of dream town that fans of modern technology dream about at night, and there's no doubt that Gates gains some glee from the idea of making his very own sci-fi community, which he plans to name Belmont.

The area is currently completely undeveloped—it's currently desert wasteland - but the convenience of this is that everything can be built from scratch, and laid out in as convenient a fashion as possible, so that traffic can be carefully controlled, neighborhoods can be given plenty of space, and even crime can be kept low through city planning techniques to discourage untoward activity.

Plus, Gate benefits from nice, cheap land—for a cool $80 million, he's purchased an entire city that will no doubt raise significantly in value once the area becomes desirable for trade. Build it and they will come, after all.

The plan is to create 80,000 homes, 3,800 acres of industrial, office, and retail space, and 470 acres for public schools, and while it's not yet clear whether Microsoft itself will have a strong presence in the city, Gates clearly believes that his endeavor can attract enough wealthy companies to kickstart a brand new economy.

According to Belmont Partners, the real estate firm managing the project, the city will "create a forward-thinking community with a communication and infrastructure spine that embraces cutting-edge technology, designed around high-speed digital networks, data centers, new manufacturing technologies and distribution models, autonomous vehicles and autonomous logistics hubs."

What exactly this will look like in practice remains to be seen, but this is far from the only futuristic city that's currently at the planning stage.

The UAE is working on a domed city that will simulate life on Mars, the better to test future plans for an off-world colony.

Even more outlandish is Japan's plans for a completely submerged underwater city that will look like something out of a Bioshock video game.

Plans to build a self-driving robot city in the desert sound comparatively easy.