A documentary film by Gary Hustwit

To kick off film club we watched Urbanized, Gary Hustwit’s third documentary, I had already seen Helvetica and Objectified. This documentary explored the design of cities, which looks at the issues and strategies behind urban design, featuring some oft he worlds most foremost architects, planners, policymakers, builders and thinkers.


Through interviewing urban planners and ordinary citizens, from all over the world, Hustwit provides what is the most vital needs for each individual urban city.  The first example was Alejandro Aravena’s affordable housing development in Santiago, Chile. What was very interesting was the interaction between the city planners and the people living with in the area. It was comforting to see the architects actually sit down with several families to discuss the most important features of their new property. It came down to what was preferable; a water heater or a bathtub. It became clear, hygiene was much more important in the city’s slums, bathtubs were a more popular choice.

Hustwit’s documentary brings a lot of awareness to the immense growth of the population of major cities and the changes that came with this. A shocking fact that 75% of the population would be living in a city in 2050, means we don’t really know how to deal with the flow of people and soon there won’t even be enough space for everyone.

Brasilia, the centre of the capital, is known for being a hectic and mainly a car area. This was a huge comparison to Bogotà, a Columbian city, which is making a transition to a more bicycle friendly city.

A bus with 100 passengers has the right to 100 times more road space than a car with one.

This fact is what spurred Brasilia’s bus system called Transmilenio which allows the city to function in a much faster and efficient way. It also provides a low expense for the city’s economic system.

Another example of a green way of changing the citizens way of living was Tidy Street in Brighton. This is a project in which, once a month, families with in the community recorded their use of electricity and compared them to each other. It brought a great amount of awareness that the simple everyday uses of electrical objects use a large amount of energy.

To me this documentary was particularly interesting for the way it explored how different areas of the world are dealing with different issues and providing different solutions. As I know a few people who are having difficulties with their housing, it was refreshing to see people really making an effort to improve everyday living for their community and finding innovative ways to bring awareness to global warming. Hustwit not only questioned urbanisation but also answered it with the negatives and positives. It also gave me a great deal to think about as I suddenly became much more aware and appreciative of my community and London as a whole.

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