This century already belongs to the city. The United Nations anticipates an additional 2.7 billion people around the world will move into metropolitan regions seeking out new social and economic opportunities by 2050. The Megacity Initiative is a new media venture that seeks to illuminate this process and other efforts to reshape urban environments through video, photography, and immersive virtual reality technologies. These materials will serve as cornerstones to a film, multimedia exhibitions, a mobile app and interactive website, educational curriculums, and journalism series that promote sustainable development, social equity, and freedom of expression in these burgeoning metropolitan regions. The ecological fate of the planet is bound in a myriad of ways to the prudent integration of these future city dwellers, especially with regards to how they live, work, travel, and consume. A venture of this nature could not be timelier in the face of such widespread developmental brinksmanship.
Investigations driving The Megacity Initiative will be conducted in coordination with the Center for Advanced Urbanism at the MIT Media Lab, Columbia GSAPP’s Studio-X, and the Program on Urban Studies at Stanford to highlight the most important metropolitan regions in the world, especially those in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The Megacity Initiative production unit, headed by cofounders Matthew Niederhauser and John Fitzgerald, will travel to these areas to highlight issues and ongoing case studies relevant to each particular location while also seeking out micro and macro design solutions that can benefit burgeoning cities on all continents.
The primary aim of The Megacity Initiative is to utilize all available media channels in order to empower and inspire critical thinking amongst urban constituents. New communication technologies continue to catalyze this massive resettlement of the global population. An exponentially increasing number of people can now quickly find and utilize new housing, employment opportunities, educational resources, and social connections through Internet-enabled devices, especially smart phones. This represents an opportunity to reach out and engage people concerning urban development and community formation on an unprecedented scale. After an initial period of research and production, The Megacity Initiative will also be poised to act as a vehicle to engage and lobby bureaucratic institutions, developers, and municipal governments to implement sustainable planning in targeted metropolitan regions. The city lies at the heart of this century, and now is the time to bring it new shape and form.