Future cities; what could they look like? And how far off are they? These are all questions that have been thrown up by Toyota’s announcement of their ‘city of the future’ to be built in Japan. So in this week’s Property Portal, we delve into what futuristic projects are being forged in the world of property & architecture.

As well as a trusty round up of every headlines you may have missed.


BIG have unveiled a vast new project, which they believe will become the ‘prototype city of the future’. Working in tandem with Toyota, the new development in Susono, at the base of Mount Fuji, is on the site of a former car-factory. The idea behind the Woven City is to create a inter-dependant and interconnected smart city, utilising the latest technologies in AI and autonomous robotics.

It will provide Toyota with a testing centre for their new creatives ideas in a “real-world environment”. The homes in the city will all be wooden, with an abundance of solar panels on their roofs, and the houses will contain in-home robotics to “take care of basic needs and enhance daily life” and sensors connected to AI to check resident’s health. With the community running on a combination of solar energy, geothermal energy and hydrogen fuel-cell technology, the Woven City will be a future blueprint for more sustainable energy creation and consumption.


Studio MK27 have created their dystopian view of what future cities could look like, with a sci-fi animation inspired by Kenzo Tange and the Japanese metabolism movement. Violent weather and a gloomy picture is portrayed for the year 2100, with huge towers containing drone-powered flying homes, where people and robots interact on the streets, with cafes providing 3D-printed food.


Studio Symbiosis have proposed a series of towers in Dehli to combat the dangerous levels of air pollution caused by industrial waste, diesel vehicles, crop burning and power plants.

“Residents of Delhi are breathing about 25 times more toxic air than the permissible limit according to the World Health Organization guidelines,” – Studio Symbiosis.

The towers will draw in the polluted air and expel the subsequently purified air, ranging from 18 to 60 metres in height.


New York City officials are calling for drone use to be legalised, specifically to do facade checks on buildings to ensure they are safe, after an architect was killed by falling debris in Manhattan. 


In response to the devastating fires that have been raging through Australia for the last few months, over 100 Australian architecture studios have teamed together to offer pro-bono services to families and personnel affected by the bush fires. 


Optimism and stability is returning to the UK property market, with the Brexit question seemingly coming to a conclusion. Property experts, including Simon Lyons, who is chief executive of property development and investment group Enstar Capital, predicts a change in fortunes in 2020 in the housing market, with the usually thriving sector returning back to old ways.


With Virgin Trains being stripped of their UK franchise, it appears the company are turning their attention to the USA. They announced that they in planning to build a fully electric, high-speed train which will connect Las Vegas to Southern California. The 273km, $4.8bn high speed line will connect Victorville in California (an hour south of LA) to Las Vegas in under 90 minutes.


A large blaze broke out on the roof of one of London’s biggest music venues, KOKO. The Camden nightlife venue has been host to some of music’s icons, including Prince, The Clash, The Rolling Stones and Madonna, and it has been seriously damaged by the fire. Sixty firefighters spent all night tackling the blaze, and it was only brought under control in the early hours of the morning.


Foster + Partner’s have released visuals for their gridded office for Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. The new HQ in Shanghai is a simple yet unique design, built on Xuhui Riverside, where it will overlook the Huangpu River and Pudong Central Business District. The very open structure of the building will allow passers by to gawp into the office, and see the inner workings of the company, with Alibaba being described as having a “unique working culture”.

Alibaba HQ - HEKKTA - Future Cities

Alibaba HQ – HEKKTA – Future Cities


UK house prices rose slower than the general cost of living in the last decade, bucking the boom of the previous 10 years, research suggests.


The best commuter towns for the five of the UK’s biggest cities have been revealed. For those wanting to make the capital their home, Grays in Essex would be your best bet, with a combined annual cost of £15,008 for a mortgage and season ticket, ahead of Leagrave in Bedfordshire (£15,399). Wolverhampton is the best option for Birmingham, and if you fancy living near Bristol, you’re better off living in Wales!


There is to be vast regeneration of the post-industrial sites just outside Moscow, Russia. Headed by OMA, the project will cover 3m square feet, and will be “a comprehensive kickoff for the conversion of the industrial Magistralnye Ulitsy territory”, aiding a transition to operating within modern technologies.


Average house price growth hit a huge 4% in December, the biggest monthly rise seen all year! However, this has been put down to more short term causes, “price rises are reflecting more of a shortage of stock at the moment than significant increases in demand and not widely in London where affordability is most stretched.”


Snohetta have unveiled that they will be adding a huge public garden to their renovation of Phillip Johnson’s AT&T building, at New York’s 550 Madison. The post-modern tower is set for a modernisation, and this garden will add some life to the building, but whilst retaining the classic feel the architecture studio are keen to retain. Construction on the garden will begin this year, whilst work on the renovation is already half way through.

AT&T public garden - HEKKTA - Future Cities

AT&T public garden – HEKKTA – Future Cities


Investors withdrew a staggering £2.2bn from UK property funds in 2019, one of the highest since records began. 


A Chinese property tycoon, Cheung Chung Kiu has agreed to buy a 45-room mansion in Hyde Park for an enormous £200m, making it the most expensive property in the whole of the UK.


Work is to resume on Santiago Calatrava’s Greek Orthodox church in Downtown Manhattan, after construction was stopped because the archdiocese was not paying the fees. The original church at 155 Cedar Street was destroyed when the Twin Towers collapsed in 2001, and the Spanish architect was asked to design it’s replacement.


The world’s first ever recycled brick has gone into production in Scotland, using recycled construction and demolition waste. The K-Briq uses a tenth of the energy in production than a regular brick, and it’s also lighter AND stronger than regular bricks!


Since the turn of the year, timber and wood have been the foremost building material architects appear to be turning to for new projects, as a new timber tower is announced for the Dutch city of Rotterdam. PLP Architecture and developer Provast have designed the stacked, staggered tower which uses a hybrid blend of concrete and timber, in this 140-metre tall building which practically sits on top of Rotterdam’s Central Station.

Tree House, Rotterdam - HEKKTA - Future Cities

Tree House, Rotterdam – HEKKTA – Future Cities