walkability photos

Learning from Snapshots

What can we learn about sustainability from our own snapshots? Seattle attorney Charles Wolfe has gained insights about urban walkability from his photos. See his post on The Atlantic Cities.

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World Builder

This award-winning short film was produced by special effects artist Bruce Branit. While it doesn’t depict sustainable development, it’s not hard to imagine how the same visual effects could be used to illiterate the construction of a sustainable community. See the film at http://vimeo.com/3365942.

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Imagine Kansas City

After a year-long series of public meetings, residents of Kansas City, Missouri, agreed they wanted a future that is vibrant, green and connected. But they needed a way to see what that meant for how the city would look and feel. A local company, Arnold Imaging, was commissioned to develop a visual that showed how light rail might impact the city. The result is a 3-minute animation that combined live-action video and computer-generated imagery to depict not only light rail, but also green roofs and distributed solar energy systems. (Arnold Imaging is led by Jonathan Arnold, co-director of The Future We Want.)

See it here.



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A Day Made of Glass

In this 11-minute video, Corning shows how “highly engineered glass with companion technologies” might be used during a day in our future. The company says that some of the technologies depicted in the video already are “deployed to a degree”, some are in development, and some are still in the conceptual stage.

See it here.


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“We Can Do Better”

In 2011, Siemens sponsored a video contest titled “Changing Your City for the Better”. The topic was sustainable urban development. The contest, which was open to entries from all countries, called for videos of 2-5 minutes dealing with energy, mobility and buildings. It was framed as follows:

The world is a complicated place. Population growth, urbanization and climate change add to humanity’s challenges. In our battle to win the future, changing the world for the better, humanity has a powerful ally in technology. As sprawl and climate change continue to advance, we can use technology to improve our quality of life and also lessen the negative impact on our environment. Cities are one of the main places where these challenges are most obviously visible, and also where we can achieve the most. Cities can be made more sustainable by using eco-friendly products and implementing innovative energy and infrastructure solutions. 

The winner was this video by MOTIONSICKFX.

See it here.



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Relocalization: “A Big Word for Getting Small”

This video is an excerpt from the comedy documentary “How to Boil a Frog”. With 3D animation, it shows how 2 city blocks can be transformed into a resilient, people-friendly post-oil neighborhood conducive to community, music and local food.

See it here. 

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America2050: A Journey to Detroit

America2050 describes itself as a “national initiative to meet the infrastructure, economic development and environmental challenges of the nation as we prepare to add about 130 million additional Americans by the year 2050.” Guided by a coalition of regional planners, scholars and policy-makers, the project looks at the emergence of “mega-regions”, large networks of metropolitan areas where it says most population growth in the United States will occur in the years ahead.

To help envision mobility in that future, the project produced this video and introduces it as follows:

Sometime in the not too distant future, John wakes up in suburban Chicago on a Saturday morning and heads to a White Sox game…in Detroit. Join him on a 300 mile journey to Detroit’s Comerica Park as he experiences the transportation options of the future: a neighborhood electric car share program, smart phone ticketing, high-speed rail, and connecting light rail. 

See it here.





Author, theorist and philosopher Richard Register has been described as a pioneer of the “ecocity” movement, focused on cities whose designs are informed by knowledge of ecology. Register describes the image here as “Part of the new New Orleans rebuilt above the floods on 20 feet of elevated fill . A good solution that’s possible with pedestrian compactness and streetcars and bikes, but not possible as a scattered car infrastructure which would require far too much fill.”

If you’re interested in further background on Register’s concept of ecocities, see this interview.

Please apply our judging criteria to Register’s image above.



LAGI's 2010 Winner: The Lunar Cubit, designed by Robert Flottemesh, Jen DeNike, Johanna Ballhaus and Adrian De Luca.

Land Art Generator Initiative

In 2010, the Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) set out to demonstrate that “renewable energy can be beautiful”. LAGI put out a call to artists, architects, scientists, and engineers to come up with both aesthetic and pragmatic solutions for the 21st century energy crisis. Participants were challenged to illustrate sculptures that would provide continuous distributed energy to the electric grid at three sites in the United Arab Emirates. The result was hundreds of submissions from more than 40 countries.

This year, LAGI is sponsoring another design competition in partnership with New York City’s Parks & Recreation. This time, the subject will be a site within Freshkills Park (the former Fresh Kills Landfill).

See LAGI’s 2010 submissions here.




Our Cities, Our Selves

The Institute for Transportation and Policy Development in New York commissioned architects in 10 cities to illustrate what sustainable development might look like at specific locations in each city. Sites are featured in Ahmedabad, India; Budapest; Buenos Aires; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Guangzhou, China; Jakarta, Indonesia; Johannesburg, South Africa; Mexico City and New York.

The renderings include before and after examples of the selected sites. The example shown here is one of the “after” drawings of Central Station in Rio de Janeiro.

See the drawings for all 10 cities here.