A tech billionaire wants to build a utopian megacity – imbued with the spirit of hypercapitalism and sustainability – from scratch somewhere in the US.
It might sound like one of Phillip K Dick's nightmares, but it's actually a new project being touted by Marc Lore, an American e-commerce entrepreneur who previously served as President and CEO of Walmart’s online shopping division. Pumped full of the techno-utopianism of Silicon Valley, Lore has now turned his attention to creating a new metropolis that’s more inclusive, more accessible, more sustainable, and ultimately more livable than the grimey megacities of today.
The name of the proposed city is Telosa, referring to a term used by Aristotle, “Telos,” which means something along the lines of "fulfillment or higher purpose". Just this week, the project released three digital concept designs of the city produced by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the Danish architecture firm that’s pitted to design the metropolis.
As per the Telosa website, a location has not yet been secured – but possibilities include Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Texas, or the Appalachian Region. The city aims to be up to 150,000 acres in size and could home up to 5 million people by 2060. That roughly equates to a population density similar to San Francisco, around 33 people per acre.
“What we're trying to do is combine the best of different cities in the world and bring it together,” Lore said in a promotional video laying out his plans.
“Think about Telosa being as vibrant and diverse as New York City, combined with efficiency, safety, and cleanliness of city like Tokyo, combined with the social services and sustainability of a city like Stockholm.”
Sustainability is an important theme in Telosa. Citing concerns of climate change, Lore says the city aims to be powered with a renewable energy system and fresh water will be stored, cleaned, and reused on-site. The urban environment plans to feature plenty of green space for its inhabitants.
"Equitism," a kind of lovechild of Ayn Rand capitalism and the Nordic model, is another central idea of the project. It's not exactly clear how this would work, but it appears every citizen would have "a stake in the land" and the city will effectively be owned by a community. Lore adds: "What if you could pay the same taxes you pay today, but get the best social services of any country in the world? That's equitism."
Telosa aims to welcome its first residents in 2030. However, bear in mind, there’s still a lot of work to do. While much of the project will be funded by Lore himself, billions of dollars of funding still need to be secured, according to Fortune, and he hopes to wrangle up the cash with help of private investors, philanthropists, federal and state grants, and subsidies.
Of course, promo videos and slick concept designs are one thing, constructing a high-tech utopia is another. The world of visionary tech design is full of bold ideas that never become more than a pipedream. But hey, Rome wasn't built in a day.