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The City for All, Zootopia Style

No, this is not the Zootopia architectural project of Bjarke Ingels in Denmark. This Zootopia is the Disney animated film released in 2016. The story revolves around a female rabbit named Judy Hopps from a small town called Bunnyburrow, who aspires to become a police officer in the city of Zootopia. Her aspiration is considered unusual as the police force has been dominated by predator animals. Zootopia itself is a metropolis inhabited by various mammal species from around the world, where they can coexist without preying on each other and living without fear of being preyed upon.

Zootopia

What makes Zootopia interesting? Let's explore it from the perspectives of architecture and urbanism.

First and foremost, let's examine the intriguing district division in Zootopia. Looking at the district distribution, this city can accommodate nearly all types of mammal species. The districts in Zootopia are tailored to the geographic and habitat characteristics of the mammals residing in them. The city consists of several districts, with four of them being the main districts, each with distinct characteristics and ecosystems.

Zootopia
Zootopia. Image by disneyfandom

Sahara Square showcases grandeur and opulence through its magnificent architecture, drawing inspiration from the city of Dubai and traditional buildings in the North African region. Thundra Town presents a polar environment achieved with climate control wall technology, creating an atmosphere of ice and snow throughout the year. The Rainforest District introduces a lush and humid tropical rainforest area, shrouded in mist and filled with dense foliage. Meanwhile, Savanna Central functions as the city's hub, housing the city hall, police headquarters, and serving as a gathering place for residents from other districts, also acting as a connector between the three other districts.

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Zootopia main district. Image from Zootopia FB Page

These unique characteristics mirror the diversity of mammalian species residing in Zootopia. Through thoughtful planning, the city has accommodated various species by creating environments that suit their habitats. This reflects the importance of user-oriented urban design and meeting the specific needs of each species.

Zootopia
Sahara Square, Thundra Town, Rainforest District. Image from Zootopia FB Page

The application of technology also plays a crucial role in Zootopia. The climate control walls in Thundra Town exemplify how technology is used to create environments tailored to the needs of specific species, namely mammals in the polar regions. Smart urban planning should consider technology and innovation that can enhance the quality of life for city residents.


Zootopia adopts an inclusive and responsive design approach to meet the needs of all city inhabitants. As depicted in the film, the city accommodates a variety of animal species by providing facilities and infrastructure suitable for each type of animal. This concept can be applied in real urban planning by considering the social, cultural, and physical differences of each resident group.

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Zootopia Central Station. Image from Zootopia FB Page

In the context of designing transportation infrastructure, it is essential to consider various types of vehicles and different forms of mobility. For instance, train doors can be adjusted to accommodate the size of animals, and pedestrian bridges can be designed according to the needs and scale of specific animal species. Similarly, public facilities such as seating areas, dining spaces, and sanitation amenities need to be adapted for comfortable access and use by various sizes and types of animals. Furthermore, the implementation of intelligent technology can assist in identifying and addressing specific challenges faced by particular animal groups in their daily urban lives, thereby creating an inclusive and friendly environment for all.

Zootopia
Customized train doors tailored to accommodate diverse users. Image from Zootopia FB Page
Zootopia
Juice stall design that caters to species with larger body sizes. Image from Zootopia FB Page

Multicultural urbanism is also applied in the context of Zootopia. The city serves as a successful model of a multicultural city where various mammalian species coexist harmoniously, irrespective of their differences. In multicultural urbanism, it is crucial to create an inclusive environment that values diversity and encourages positive interaction among cultural groups or, in the case of Zootopia, species groups. The film teaches us the importance of understanding and appreciating each other's differences in urban design.


Not only focusing on the physical environment, but Zootopia also highlights the significance of social interaction among city residents. Despite being different species, these animals can live together, collaborate, and appreciate each other's differences. This reflects how good urban design should be capable of promoting positive and inclusive social interactions among its residents.

Zootopia

Based on what is depicted in Zootopia, there are several points that we can learn in the planning of a real-world city:

Understanding Diversity and Residents' Needs

Similar to Zootopia, which is inhabited by various mammalian species, real-world cities also have diverse populations. It is crucial to understand the social, cultural, and needs diversity of city residents in planning an inclusive and friendly environment for all. In-depth studies should be conducted on the social and cultural characteristics of the community that will inhabit the city. This includes understanding habits, traditions, and values prevailing in the society. By understanding social and cultural diversity, planners can design a city that appreciates local identity and facilitates harmonious interactions among residents.


Ecology-Based Planning

Zootopia successfully created districts that align with the natural habitats of various animal species. Similarly, in real-world urban planning, it is essential to consider environmental and ecological aspects in designing a sustainable and eco-friendly city. For example, implementing vertical development concepts by optimizing land use within the city. Tall buildings surrounded by green spaces or rooftop gardens can help expand green areas and provide open spaces for city residents.


Technology Implementation

Technology plays a crucial role in creating a better urban environment. Like the climate control walls in Thundra Town, technology can be used to enhance comfort and efficiency in the urban environment. In the real world, for instance, utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT) for a Smart City with various devices and urban infrastructure connected and communicating with each other. This enables the city to collect real-time data, such as traffic, population density, and air pollution. This data can be used to optimize resource usage, improve efficiency, and address urban issues, such as traffic congestion.

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Savanna Central. Image from Zootopia FB Page

Handling Social Conflict

Zootopia also underscores the importance of addressing social conflicts to create a harmonious city. In urban planning, efforts should be made to create an environment that reduces the potential for conflict and encourages positive social interaction. Handling social conflicts in the planning of real-world cities is a crucial aspect to establish a harmonious and inclusive city for all its residents. Involving the community in the city planning process can help identify potential conflicts early on and seek solutions agreed upon by all. By engaging various stakeholders, city planning will better consider the needs and aspirations of the entire population.


Focus on the Quality of Life for Residents

As the hub of life, a city should prioritize the quality of life for its residents. Paying attention to comfort, accessibility, and the needs of the population will create a better and more sustainable urban environment. This can be achieved by creating more parks, urban green spaces, and open green areas, improving and expanding public transportation systems, ensuring the availability and accessibility of quality healthcare and education facilities, guaranteeing affordable housing for various socioeconomic strata, and providing recreational, artistic, and cultural facilities that cater to diverse interests and entertainment needs of the citizens.

Through Zootopia, we can glean valuable insights into the importance of high-quality city planning that prioritizes the residents' quality of life. This also demonstrates that learning resources can come from various sources, including animated films. Until our next post. Goodbye!

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