Building Cities With Citizen Ideas & Money [My Ideal City]

Building Cities With Citizen Ideas & Money [My Ideal City]

Real-estate pioneer Rodrigo Niño explains how his current project, My Ideal City, seeks to bring citizens and experts together to build a better city.

  • 7 april 2013

Rodrigo Niño is the director of My Ideal City – a collaboration with leading architects Winka Dubbeldam and Gary Hack, as well as citizens themselves, to bring about a crowdsourced’ and crowdfunded solution to the problems that cities around the world faces today. Already a speaker at PSFK CONFERENCE 2013, he spoke recently with about how he sees his vision developing and how he hopes that it will encourage other urban metropolises in emerging nations to follow suit.

What was your rationale behind the My Ideal City Project?

I believe in the power of the crowd first and foremost. I saw how over 3200 investors decided to put together their efforts to make the first skyscraper in Colombia—BD Bacata—developed by BD Promotors. That project would not have been possible with traditional financing or institutional investments, and it showed what the power of the crowd could bring to the population.

We saw how the city was growing like a flat pancake with buildings that had, on average, no more than four stories. We saw that people were flooding into Bogota at a rate that outpaced any potential development and recognized that there was no consensus when it came to finding a solution. We also understood that the approach from top to bottom, where experts determine what should be done, wouldn’t be an effective way to operate. It’s important to respect and give proper credit to the crowd–there is no one who knows better when it comes to figuring out what needs to be done to improve the city.

How do you see it working out?  

We decided to create a conversation between experts in urbanism, architecture, the environment and art to define the future of the city through the vision of ‘My Ideal City‘. We hope that the project is applicable to other cities so it can be franchised to other settlements facing the same problem. It is our bet that this model will replicated across the world, particularly in emerging countries which are experiencing extreme urban growth. The concept of crowdfunding behind it also draws on the idea of crowdsourcing because the crowd will tell us what kind of city it wants as well as financing it themselves. I don’t know of any initiatives in any other cities which use popular participation, through some organized direction, as a core strategy.

Has being a Bogotano in New York influenced your way of thinking?  

The combination of being a native of Bogota and a resident of Manhattan has shown me a variety of ways in which the city could evolve, ranging from from vertical growth to transportation. However, I have always had an emotional attachment to Bogota because it is where I was born.

After living in New York, I see that urban redevelopment is the way forward. People need to be able to live comfortably in densely populated areas while minimizing their impact on the environment. But New Yorkers are New Yorkers and Bogotanos are Bogotanos–we each have the respective right to decide how our cities should develop. Nobody should decide that for us, but experts can help us make our collective vision come to fruition.

Are there any issues unique to Bogota that a person looking to transform the city might encounter?

I feel that people from Bogota, and Colombians in general, are very conscious of their environment. If you give them the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way in deciding the direction of a topic as global as the future of a city, they will embrace it enthusiastically. They will produce outstanding results and come to clever conclusions that will not only define the future of Bogota but the way that the city of the future is conceptualized.

Which urban ‘problem’ would you like to see most improved in the next five to ten years?  

I would like to observe more vertical growth and improvements in traffic circulation. Mobility in Bogota, as in other cities in the world, is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Overall, I would like the initiatives result in an urban environment that is the definition of happiness for a city dweller, whatever country they live in.

What do you ultimately hope to achieve via the ‘My Ideal City’ project?

With the help of the team at PSFK Labs, I believe that ‘My Ideal City’ will give people from all over the world the opportunity to participate in a solution that will define the future of cities in emerging countries. Pertinent questions and topics will be examined on, so the conversation will not only be between Colombians and experts but also between the world and experts. The subject of the ideal city is relevant to everyone because it concerns the future of the places where they live and work.

Thanks Rodrigo!

Over the next 6 months, will create a conversation around what you envision as ‘My Ideal City’. For new ideas around the future of the city, watch the content generated in our special section at or on


Machine Printer Uses Coffee Drips To Create Intricate Portraits

Arts & Culture
Technology Yesterday

Why Nest Doesn't Get The Holidays

PSFK founder reacts to the damaging effects of poor email marketing

Children Yesterday

Robots Could Be Joining Dubai’s Police Force In 2017

The real-life RoboCops can salute, shake hands and collect traffic fines


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Travel Yesterday

Parka Hides And Charges Portable Devices

Bolt is a jacket that lets people carry and charge their various electronics without the need for an outlet

Related Expert

Leslie Dewan

Nuclear Power, Sustainability, Engineering

Food Yesterday

Yelp's New 'Yelfie' Feature Lets Diners Take Selfies

The update is designed to encourage people to attach a selfie when they share their experiences

Design & Architecture Yesterday

Build Your Own Savory Cheese Advent Calendar

A British food blogger has created a guide to building a different kind of holiday surprise

Fitness & Sport Yesterday

Floating Gym Concept In Paris Is Powered By Your Workout

The proposed design from Carlo Ratti Associati lets passengers ride a stationary bike as they travel through Paris along the Seine River


Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Syndicated Yesterday

What Does The Future Of Android Look Like In A World With The Pixel?

Google’s decision to make its own phone might have looked like a blow to the likes of Samsung but the reality is much more interesting

Fashion Yesterday

Alexander McQueen Designs A 3D-Printed Umbrella

3D-printed fashion arrives in time for the winter season

Work Yesterday

Why Training Associates To Be Advocates Is Key To Retail Success

In our Future of Retail 2017 report, PSFK Labs discusses strategies to prioritize customer service, which begins with associate advocates

Media & Publishing Yesterday

Netflix Creates Binge Candle To Celebrate A New Season Of Gilmore Girls

The streaming service developed a special layered candle that creates candle with episode-specific smells


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

Automotive Yesterday

Audi And LEGO Exhibit Autonomous Vehicle Installation

The installation at Design Miami explores the 25th hour, which represents bonus productive work or play time

Gaming & Play Yesterday

This Game Lets You Be A Pilot In The Drone Racing League

DRL Racing Simulator recreates actual courses in a virtual environment

Travel december 1, 2016

Hotel Chain Is Giving Away Its Not-So-Super Hotel Art At Art Basel

A lesson in how to advertise a kitschy-to-cool redesign in the middle of Miami Art Week

No search results found.