Cities are thought and done

‘Today’s cities consume 75% of global energy and thus contribute to 75% of CO2 emissions. To this we must add that within 40 years three quarters of the world population will live in cities and will consume much more energy. And a small environmental footprint reduction and energy of the city has a large impact on the planet. The challenge in the future will be how to handle the demographics. The architecture is not the only problem, how to relate to mobility architecture and how to create a human environment by designing will be the real challenge’.

These are some of the questions raised in ‘Urbanized’ (Gary Hustwit, 2011), a documentary that shows a global discussion on the future of cities, focusing on the organization and structure of the elements that compose it, the problems to solve and the strategies used in urban design through the exploration of various projects in cities such as Stuttgart, Brasilia, Barcelona, Copenhagen and Santiago de Chile, as well as Mumbai, New Orleans, Cape Town or Bogota.

The film captures the point of view of town planners, architects, politicians or ideologues that examine current challenges of our cities in relation to mobility, the need for housing, the provision of basic services, the articulation of public spaces or environmental policies, all universal concerns that are shaping urban relations in our cities and often are accepted out of the public, even occasionally outside of the citizen interests.

Throughout the documentary, Gary Hustwit shows how cities are thought and done, that behind the design is not only aesthetics but there can be philosophical questions that come to establish different models of life and that there are small actions that cause a change that can become a large transformation. He also allows make some predictions that might be fulfilled: ‘The organization of our society, how we move, how we consume, how things are packaged, everything will be completely different in 40 years. On the other hand, in Asia and Africa there will be new cities to implement these new ideas on sustainability and urbanism. That will completely change our concept of the cities. Primarily as a species, we humans need things to awaken our imagination, to inspire us. And things that move the cities will not be the bricks and pipes, will be the ideas’.

‘Urbanized’ is the third part of the trilogy about design that began with ‘Helvetica’ (2007), which analyzes the world of graphic design, its presence in the urban landscape and the visual culture it has generated over the years, and continues with ‘Objectified’ (2009), which addresses the industrial design, investigating the relationship between design, sustainability, consumption and identity.