Sustainable Cities™

London: Get a Glimpse of Tomorrow's Sustainable Cities in the Crystal

The Crystal is one of the most sustainable buildings in the world and also houses an exhibition about tomorrow's sustainable cities. Since it opened in 2012, it has been one of the main attractions in England's East London. The idea of the Crystal is to change and develop people's attitudes and actions in relation to sustainability, and their knowledge of the subject.

The Crystal

The Crystal, which is designed according to sustainable principles and with the latest technologies, has one of the world's biggest exhibitions about sustainability and disseminates the subject to the population at large.  

The exhibition is about sustainable buildings and highlights the three mega trends - urbanisation, climate change and demographic changes. More than half of the world's population live in cities and development is continuing in that direction. Many of the technologies, which will be used to make better use of our resources and create a more sustainable future, already exist. But sustainable cities are not just about technologies; they are also about our habits and the everyday choices we make.

Because governments and the international community have not yet managed to create a framework for a more sustainable approach to climate change and tomorrow's lack of resources, private companies are increasingly taking matters into their own hands. This is the case with the Crystal in London's Royal Victoria Docks. It was built and initiated by Siemens. The exhibition building is a public venue, which benefits the local community, the entire city and visiting tourists.

The Crystal inside

Coordination of the city's various systems

The exhibition in The Crystal is divided into 10 themes, focusing on topics such as smart buildings, our future health, water as a source of life and urban design. Understanding the relationship between various systems and functions in a city is essential if we are to evolve in a sustainable direction.

In theCreating Citiessection, you can play an urban game. As a "City Manager", you have to try and coordinate the city's various systems, thus experiencing the challenges of tomorrow: for example, in terms of priorities and how a single issue affects everything else. The exhibition involves a great deal of interaction, learning and exploration, so that visitors are invited to test, and take part in various situations and in the evolution of the city.

Visitor involvement

Involvement is a major element in the Crystal. For example, through education, they are trying to change and develop local people's attitudes and actions in relation to sustainability, and their knowledge of the subject. More than 25% of all visitors to the exhibition are children from surrounding schools, who take part in the Crystal's educational programme. 10% of visitors are from Newham, the borough surrounding the Crystal, while 50% of all visitors to the exhibition are Londoners.

In an interview forSustainable Cities, the Crystal's Partnership Manager, Michael Stevns says that education will continue to play a major role in the sustainability exhibition. The future goal is to build on current achievements and continue to be part of the regeneration of the Royal Victoria Docks. The Crystal will be a place that constantly keeps track of urban and technological developments. At the same time, the building will very much continue as a learning universe and meeting place for the local community.The Crystal buildingThe building was designed to achieve the certification levels BREEAM Outstanding and LEED Platinum, and in early 2014 the Crystal was awarded top assessments for energy-efficient construction. That means that the finished building lives up to its expectations in terms of energy saving and production.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 / By Nina Kirstine Busk

Last updated Wednesday, September 10, 2014