One Millionth Tower

One of the most ubiquitous structures in the post World War II urban landscape is the monolithic residential apartment block, massive towers built to meet the post war housing shortages.  These are especially common throughout Europe, lying just on the outskirts of the main metropolitan areas of cities.  These structures are also present throughout Toronto, a city heavily modeled off of the architectural and urban planning trends of European cities.  The problem is that now, sixty years later, these buildings are falling into disrepair, and are largely viewed as a failed experiment, a modernist design concept that proved unworkable in real life.  Now, cities across the globe are trying to figure out what to do with these buildings, whether it is to tear them down, leave them to decay, or some how breath life back into them.  In Toronto, they are trying to figure out how to turn the city’s many high rises into desirable places to live, that enliven a sense of community, pulling inspiration from other successful projects in other cities.  The result of their exploration is One Millionth Tower, and interactive documentary which shows you a collection of ideas and they imagined impact, all through an innovative interface.

ONE MILLIONth TOWER re-imagines a universal thread of our global urban fabric — the dilapidated highrise neighbourhood. Over a billion of us live in vertical homes, and most are falling into disrepair. A group of highrise residents, together with architects, re-envisions their vertical homes, then animators & computer programmers magically bring their sketches to life in this documentary for the contemporary web-browser.

The result of this unique collaboration is a lush, visual story unfolding in a 3D virtual environment. Visitors explore how participatory urban design can transform spaces, places and minds.

Additional Features include behind the scenes documentary videos and a spectacular interactive feature which takes users to highrise neighbourhoods in almost any country in the world, thanks to Google Streetview and satellite imagery. It’s based on our own original reseach to find and understand highrise communities in every country around the world.

One Millionth Tower is a story with global implications about how, with the power of imagination, we can transform the urban and virtual spaces that belong to all of us.

While the content of the documentary is very interesting, one of its most striking aspects is how you experience it, where you explore the content through a 3D environment.

The movie, which makes its online premiere above, was carefully crafted to be watched on the internet. It uses interactive tools to illustrate the Toronto residents’ ideas about how to improve the decaying high-rise in which they live. Powered entirely by HTML5, WebGL, and other open source JavaScript libraries, One Millionth Tower is loaded with photos and information from all over the web, and exists in an online environment that is about as close to three-dimensional as something on a flat screen can get.

Here is the trailer for the documentary, which is a great introduction, but really you need to visit it directly to appreciate it in full.

This way of exploring the information is so intriguing that it would be great to see it used in other contexts, included some more metaphorical.  In fact, it combined with the recent Deleted City project, an interactive archive of the final days of Geocities, would be pretty magical.

The Deleted City from deletedcity on Vimeo.

Actually, the idea of exploring information stored in the metaphor of a 3D landscape of buildings reminds of something else, something that was laughed at 18 years ago.

Via WIRED and Fast.Co Design

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