Concrete vs. Trees: Our Future Cities

Aqumi, designed by Byland Studio, is an IoT-connected plant monitoring system for outdoor vegetation drastically lowering maintenance cost, reducing water usage and improving plant health.


More people will live in cities

Today more than half the world’s population live in cities, a number expected to rise to two thirds of the population by 2050. The newcomers are seeking greater opportunities and better access to basic services such as health care and education. Meanwhile, governments all over the world are battling to provide housing, public transportation, electricity, water and sanitation in pace for their expanding cities. In this race there is one component that is too often forgotten.


The value of green spaces

Improved air quality. Rainfall retention. Reduced temperatures in the heat of summer. Those are some of the benefits of greener cities. But can green cities even directly affect our health?


Yes it can, according a growing number of studies. Just having 10 more trees in a city block, on average, will improve your health perception comparable to being 7 years younger and will decrease cardio-metabolic conditions (Kardan et al., 2015). Not only will you feel younger, you will also be happier, as stress is reduced according to the quantity of green spaces in a living environment (Thompson et al, 2012). So why aren’t new city development projects bulging with greeneries and covered by trees?


The cost problem

One main reason: maintenance costs. Including vegetation in development projects incur maintenance costs going into the foreseeable future. The plants and trees need watering, protection from salt and other pollutants, and regular supervision. This will only increase due to environmental changes leading to heavier rainfalls and more frequent drought periods. So, are we doomed to live in grey, concrete cities in the future?



Byland Studio was founded by two landscape architects who know about the focus mismatch between the buildings with its installations and the surrounding green space. Knowing the problem was related to the high maintenance cost they looked at a way technology could help reduce the costs.


The result is Aqumi, using the power of Internet of Things to monitor outdoor vegetation. From a dashboard, an operator has full control of the plant’s health and can plan watering trips, drastically reducing cost of unnecessary trips and reducing the chance of dead plants and trees.


With Aqumi Byland Studio’s mission is to take gardening to the 21st century. For greener cities, and ultimately healthier and happier urban lives.


Read more about Aqumi here:



Kardan, O., Gozdyra, P., Misic, B., Moola, F., Palmer, L. J., Paus, T., & Berman, M. G. (2015). Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban center. Scientific Reports, 5(1).

Ward Thompson, C., Roe, J., Aspinall, P., Mitchell, R., Clow, A., & Miller, D. (2012). More green space is linked to less stress in deprived communities: Evidence from salivary cortisol patterns. Landscape and Urban Planning, 105(3), 221–229.

Concrete vs. Trees: Our Future Cities
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