Travel to any city in the world and you will get a sense of its history by simply looking at its architecture. All those landmark structures built in stone, brick and mortar, glass and steel, old and new, have played a part in the evolution of the city, and have a story to tell about its present, past as well as its distant past.

But if you want to know where your city is headed, you will have to time-travel into the future. Come along as Budget Direct Travel Insurance takes you on a journey into the future where you can see how seven cities around the world have shaped up after realising some of their most ambitious architectural projects.

1. New York City

Ayn Rand in her classic 1943 novel, The Fountainhead said, “The skyline of New York is a monument of a splendour that no pyramids or palaces will ever equal or approach.”

The Manhattan’s skyline is spectacular and is a continuously developing story; should projects such as the U-shaped Big Bend and the jaw-dropping Times Squared 3015 come to light, the Egyptian pyramids really will seem like sandcastles.

2. Bangkok

Bangkok’s vernacular architecture is small-scale, with most buildings from the Royal Grand Palace complex to the beautiful temples being rather low-rise. However, the growing population and urbanisation led to an unregulated building frenzy in the 1980s, resulting in the city having nearly 600 skyscrapers. While the high-rise trend will continue into the future, cycle lanes cantilevered from Skytrain tracks, green spaces beneath highways and communities elevated above rising water levels all might have a place in the new ‘Venice of the East’.

3. Dubai

The idea of Dubai cannot be separated from its skyline. Since the start of its urban expansion in the previous century, Dubai has always reached for the skies, with Burj Khalifa just the beginning of a series of stunning developments. Dubai’s potential future developments are the 75km Arabian Canal and the Dynamic Tower, all 420m of which will rotate.

4. Moscow

The dark, brooding skyline of the Moscow, commonly seen in old spy movies is moving on, and up. While the Soviet-era Seven Sisters were supposedly constructed by Stalin to compete with New York, work commenced in 1992 on the Moscow City International Business Center project, which includes three of Europe’s tallest buildings. But even these would go into the background if Norman Foster’s outrageously ambitious Crystal Island project – conceptualised as the largest structure on earth – is ever built.

5. Rio de Janeiro

Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer are two sights that instantly identify the city as Rio. The city doesn’t lack for architectural variety with classic buildings such as the Copacabana Palace Hotel sitting comfortably with modern masterpieces such as the Museum of Modern Art. Rio’s future will see its coastal location being capitalised for marine farms and other island-based developments, while urban planners reckon that futuristic favela redesigns can provide healthy, walkable and self-organised living environments.

6. London

Iconic landmarks such as the Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament in London take you on a journey into Britain’s rich historical past. But the capital city has also become a haven for contemporary architecture. Regardless of their quirky nicknames, skyscrapers such as 30 St. Mary Axe (‘The Gherkin’) and 20 Fenchurch Street (‘The Walkie Talkie’) mean business. While the future is bound to hold a bevy of new, modern skyscrapers like Spire London, we’d like to see the Endless Vertical City come to life.

7. Paris

Paris is so much more than the Eiffel Tower, which was built for the 1889 World Fair. From Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe to the gorgeous buildings of Montmartre, the city’s incredible pre-war architecture defines its history, culture and personality. And while more contemporary developments such as the Centre Pompidou can hold their own, will ‘farmscrapers’ and ‘smart’ green buildings dominate this iconic skyline in the future?

What might the future of your city look like?

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