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Planet City explores housing the world population in one city

Los Angeles-based film director and architect Liam Young recently released his latest work — Planet City, a speculative and provocative glimpse into a future where urban sprawl is reversed and the entire world population is housed in a single, hyper-dense metropolis. Launched at the NGV Triennial exhibition, the 15-minute-long animated film was created with input from a global network of scientists, theorists and economists to inform the director’s depiction of sustainable technologies that are already available or are currently in development. As a result, Planet City shows a possible future where a population of 10 billion people could live with minimal impact on the environment to give the rest of the natural world outside of the city’s borders a chance to rejuvenate.

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Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria for the NGV Triennial, Planet City addresses climate change as an ideological challenge, rooted in culture and politics, rather than simply a technological one. The film-based work presents an alternative future where, through a global consensus, 10 billion people “retreat together” into a densely populated metropolis to allow the rest of the world to return to “wilderness.” The metropolis’ residents would engage in community-sharing of resources and draw on renewable energy and food systems as part of the city’s zero-waste, “closed-loop” system. Recycled materials would be used for the city’s construction.

Related: Washington is the first U.S. state to hold a climate assembly

rendering of trees growing over a skyscraper
rendering of trees growing on concrete and glass building

“The cities of science fiction are often weighed down by dystopian tales and dark, fearful futures,” Liam Young explained in a National Gallery of Victoria press release. “However, Planet City, although wildly speculative, is a plausible and optimistic proposal developed from real calculations and research. It is both an extraordinary image of tomorrow and an urgent examination of our present.”

rendering of multiple skyscrapers
rendering of trees growing around a pond with skyscrapers in the background

The film, the trailer of which can be viewed here, is on view at the NGV Triennial, a Melbourne-based event with free entry that runs until April 18, 2021.

+ Planet City

Photography by Liam Young via Planet City

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