urban innovation for emerging cities
urban innovation for emerging cities


Utopia teams up with partners to convert slums into next generation microcities

Utopia Microcities.jpg

Utopia teams up with partners to convert slums into next generation microcities



JANUARY 23, 2018

DAVOS - Utopia today announced a new public-private partnership with the city of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to convert one of the city’s slums into a next generation microcity. The partnership was certified by Ulaanbaatar Mayor Batbold Sundui in a signed memorandum, which officially recognizes the beginning of this unprecedented effort.

This innovative project brings together a consortium assembled by Utopia to produce a pilot microcity of 5,000 members with a plan to eventually scale the microcity to 100,000 members. The microcity model is a blueprint for how cities can bring their informal slums into the formal fabric of their city while introducing a fundamentally new model for urban living. 

“Utopia believes the rethinking of slums around the world can bring about the future of urban living, one that is more lightweight, light touch, and adaptive than we’ve seen in the past,” said Jonathan Hursh, Utopia founder and executive producer.

As Mongolia’s capital and largest city, Ulaanbaatar is home to more than 1.3 million inhabitants, nearly half the country’s population. But many of these citizens still reside in makeshift camps comprised of informal “ger” tents that are not well suited for today’s urban environment. Unplugged from Ulaanbaatar’s urban infrastructure, residents of these ger areas struggle to sustain healthy and productive lives against the backdrop of a sprawling population center.

In contrast, the microcity will feature hubs that give members access to health clinics, education, banking services and employment centers featuring tech-based job training and employment. The microcity will be connected by a next-generation safety, transportation, and communications infrastructure characterized by high-speed internet and shared, zero-emission electric vehicles. Comprised of innovative prefabricated structures, the microcity will feature skinny streets and public spaces that promote accessibility and inclusiveness. It is a whole system approach to the future of our cities.

The pilot microcity is a joint effort between Utopia, the City of Ulaanbaatar, the Ulaanbaatar Development Corporation, and the Ulaanbaatar Chamber of Commerce. This semi-autonomous Special Demonstration Zone within Ulaanbaatar could serve as a blueprint for cities across Asia, Africa and Latin America as they look to transition from informal slums to intentionally inclusive cities.



About Utopia
Utopia is a design and urban innovation firm reimagining the future of slums. We act as a conductor to pull together designers, city leaders, business leaders, universities, and slums themselves around a focused effort to improve slums and their cities. 

Learn more about microcities here

Jonathan Hursh, founder and executive producer (email)
Tim Gingrich, media contact (email)
Renata Legierska, media contact (email)

Jonathan Hursh