Shell Ideas360 webcast with Ben Hamilton on Future Cities


By 2050, there could be more than nine billion people on earth, three-quarters of whom will be living in cities. Shell recognises the challenges this will present, and is committed to developing innovative solutions that help meet them, particularly when it comes to the distribution of food, water and energy.

With that in mind, urban designer and movement specialist, Ben Hamilton-Baillie, recently led a webcast for students taking part in the Shell Ideas360 competition. In it, Ben draws upon his urban design and engineering background, as well as his in-depth understanding of behavioural psychology, to consider the role technology plays in answering the questions posed by urbanisation.

Ben trained at the University of Cambridge, before becoming recognised as a leading international expert on the development of shared space and authoring the critically-acclaimed book Traffic in Villages – A Toolkit for Communities.

During the webcast, he argues that the challenge of urbanisation should be fundamentally framed around the relationship between motor vehicles, people and cities. The aim is simple: to find ways for urban centres to cope with the effects of an increase in the number of people living in cities.

As Ben explains, the purpose of cities is to facilitate three forms of interaction: economic; social; and cultural. Designers and engineers must therefore continue to create innovative solutions that protect these forms of interaction while also reducing the potentially negative side-effects of urbanisation.

That means making better use of modern technologies and finding ways to redesign our cities to better integrate vehicles in their current form. He gives the example of cafés in Lund, Sweden, where waiters serve tables on both sides of the street in the city centre. This forces vehicles to drive slowly, shifting behaviour and improving safety simply through changes in design.

For Ben, merging modern technology and societal needs with existing infrastructure is a considerable challenge. But with the right levels of time, creativity and dedication, the results will be more than worth it. Something that will no doubt sound familiar to any students who take part in Shell Ideas360.

To find out more about Ben Hamilton-Baillie’s work and understanding of urbanisation, you can view the full webcast here.

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