Population at 6,000 feet: CAD software and a futuristic solution for population growth

Across the globe, from China in the east to the US in the west, the population continues to skyrocket. According to the United Nations Population Fund, while the population stood at 7 billion in 2011, it's now surpassed 7.3 billion.

It's not set to slow, either. In the United States, for example, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs expects the population to climb to nearly 450 million by 2100. The same organisation expects the Chinese population to peak in 2030 at 1.4 billion, before eventually dropping over the following decades. In Singapore, population growth continues, according to the local Department of Statistics, although at a slower pace.

Global population is a reality that needs to be dealt with, and the answer could lie with a concept that's been around for decades, along with a powerful form of computer prototyping.

Archologies could change cities across the globe.Archologies could change cities across the globe.

Population growth and the effects on cities

It's well known that population growth is largely confined to major cities. In Europe, the European Environment Agency found that the past few decades have seen significant urban population growth. This, in turn, has led to a significant urban footprint on the continent, which has then led to fragmented rural areas and growing demand for services such as transport as well as energy across a larger area. Australia, although on a smaller scale, is also home to similar levels of urbanisation.

The State of Australian Cities 2014-2015 report published by The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development noted that Australia is a highly urbanised country, and one where city populations are at record levels.

This is the case across the globe. China, the US and South America are all dealing with urbanisation. In-fill between cities in the US is now a common sight, and it likely won't improve.

One possible solution could lie with moving populations out of these areas and into a kind of structure that's previously only been possible in the pages of science fiction novels and in concept documents.

Freestanding cities

According to Arcosanti, a community created by famous Italian architect Paolo Soleri, archology is the concept of cities designed to fuse both architecture and ecology. It was popularised by Soleri, and is a proposed solution to urban sprawl.

Instead of massive cities linked by suburbs, freeways and towns, Paolo Soleri proposed the idea of hyper dense cities. This concept moves away from the traditional concept of urban planning, instead opting for, as the Arcosanti website explains, highly integrated and compact three-dimensional urban form.

One of the more prominent examples of an archology is the Sky City 1000 project, a super-highrise city made up of 14 concave aerial bases stacked on each other. It would reach 1,000 metres if fully constructed, with a total floor space of 800 hectares. A total of 35,000 people could live within this space, with room for 100,000 workers.

While nothing has ever come of this mega project, Emporis explained that it has been a constant object of attention across the globe. It's a design that could prove especially useful in land-starved nations like Singapore, where it's a constant struggle to find adequate room for the growing number of people. Instead of smaller towers, massive self-sustaining structures located offshore could provide ample room.

There's no wasteful consumption of land or resources with archologies, with construction going up instead of out. Understandably, designing these megastructures requires an entirely new breed of design tool – like CAD software.

Population growth requires a different way of approaching cities.Population growth requires a different way of approaching cities.

Using CAD software

New computer-aided design tools allow architects and engineers to drill down into the fundamentals of a project before any construction begins. In the context of an archology, users could create concepts of how the structure would look, trialling a number of different designs with ease. Then, the Simulation package could be used to subject the design to real-world conditions.

Moving along, the Electrical package could make the underlying electrical design of the structure something that's simple to plan and, most importantly visualise. By laying out each electrical component as well as wiring, designers can see exactly how systems work before they're built.

Archologies may still be solely in the realm of possibility for now, but population demands could force a need for the mega-structures in the near future. CAD software is sure to play an important role.