Urbanized: A Lesson in Engagement and Communication

Last night saw 900 Melbournians crowd into the beautiful Capitol Theatre for a screening of 'Urbanized: A Conversation About Urban Futures'.  The film was followed by a panel starring Rob Adams (City of Melbourne), Gretchen Wilkins (RMIT) and Michael Trudgeon (Victorian Eco Innovation Lab).

The 90 minute flick included some seriously gorgeous images showcasing many of the case studies we've come to learn about in the industry. These include biking in Copenhagen, bus-rapid-transiting in Bogota, highlining in New York and slumming in Mumbai for instance.

The film was simple but rich.  It communicated a number of urban design principles in a way that was super accessible for those without experience in the field.  Better still, the movie was far from an architect/planner/designer love fest (as some of these kinds of movies can be).  It conveyed different perspectives and viewpoints on key issues affecting most global cities such as urban sprawl and transport and community engagement.

It also really emphasised a bottom-up approach to design (with examples from South Africa, Detroit and Chile to name a few).  The focus was on small interventions that can make a significant difference in the way people experience their city.  This leads to some really important questions; do we really listen enough as designers, or are we too bust trying to get OUR message across?

What I also took from this movie was a nice way to present ideas to the general population about urban design, planning, landscape etc., that was informative, visually appealing and most importantly - engaging.  This is really important in an industry like ours, that tends to use a lot of jargon and planning/design-speak to tackle issues that affect everyone.  Generally, more should be done to make planing and design more accessible, but films like this can only help.

Watch it here (charges apply for the full version, but a short preview is freely available)


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