Globalization and urbanization are no longer buzzwords but facts of 21st century life. Architects Joyce Hsiang and Bimal Mendis of Plan B Architecture & Urbanism, believe that it is time that we consider these factors on a global scale. While studies on urbanization, for instance, will look at one city or country, they cannot trace the full impact of that city because its footprint is so large, and there is an increasing blurring between rural and urban. In their project, City of 7 Billion, they plan to increase the scale to study population growth and resource consumption on a global level, in one unified model.
Mendis told The Atlantic Cities:
It’s impossible to look at the city as a kind of discrete entity any more given the way financial networks, ecological networks, social networks work. These systems have much larger footprints than the actual physical or political boundaries of cities.
That is why Mendis and Hsiang have embarked on a project to map out the entire world, as one city. They see the globe as an a single urban entity — for instance, impact from cities spreads out to the rural farming areas who feed them — so we should start visualizing it as such. The project will bring together disparate data such as population growth, economic indicators, topography and more to create a comprehensive geo-spatial model of the world.
The project has begun with Hsiang and Mendis mapping out population growth, which they digitally animated and then translated into a physical model that took up a 10×10 room. As it grows, the City of 7 Billion will be a valuable resource for planners, architects and researchers determining how best to use our global resources. While it is funded for two years, the project is expected to be indefinitely on-going. Says Hsiang:
This is a kind of project that when you embark on it, you kind of embark on it for the rest of your life.
See the animation and then physical models of the world’s population growth in the videos below: