What makes a city great? How are cities designed? Which comes first in city planning priorities: the person or the vehicle? These are some of the questions broached by Urbanized, a documentary film by Gary Hustwit.

A couple weeks ago I attended “Creating a Healthy, Vibrant Louisville,” one of the Sustainable City Series forums, and heard Gil Peñalosa speak about great transformative changes to cities. The Sustainable City Series was created by the University of Louisville’s Urban Design Studio to “raise the community’s awareness of better design practices for our built environment with a focus on moving our city and region towards a sustainable future.”

Peñalosa’s brother Enrique is one of the featured speakers in Urbanized. I really wanted to see the film, but the library didn’t have a copy. So I filled out the Order Recommendation Form and they got a copy!

The documentary takes the viewer around the world to see the successes and failures of cities in meeting the needs of their people. From bike lanes in Copenhagen to the streets of Bogotá, the documentary traces design decisions and the insightful programs that help turn dangerous or disconnected cities into one’s that thrive. The element that ties these programs together (or makes them fail, in its absence) is the focus on people. From a violent neighborhood in South Africa springs a safe walking zone. Government subsidies allow former slum dwellers in India to own and develop their own homes. And then there this heartbreaking story of planner-citizen disconnect in Stuttgart.

So whether you’re into design or urban planning or social change , I’d highly recommend this film.
Here’s a clip from the DVD’s extras to whet your appetite.

Urbanized is available in the Ekstrom Library SGA video collection.

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