Supplement Your Summer Travel

Whether you have already completed your summer travel, or are soon to board a plane, train or other mode of transportation to experience a new city, Gary Hustwit’s 2011 project, Urbanized, is a good bet to help enhance your travel experience.

The latest in a three-part documentary celebration of design, the film challenges us to think critically about why we enjoy cities as much as we do. It helps viewers see the magic behind some of the world’s most elaborate labyrinths and explore urban design as a critical process as more and more global citizens are re-locating to cities.

Hustwit brings audiences face-to-face with issues facing humanity as populations in urban ares become increasingly dense and how brilliant minds are rising to the occasion.

One such brilliant solution is the 24 kilometer pedestrian-and-bicycle-only street introduced in Bogotá, Columbia. Working to network low-income and wealthy neighborhoods, the infrastructure was a deliberate investment in elevating the social status of cyclist, preserving the human dignity of the individual. For a city whose citizens previously had little to be proud of and much development to be realized, Former Bogotá Mayor Enrique Penalosa calls it, “democracy at work.”

But again, why do we enjoy cities so much? Why do they affect our psyche the way they do?

Urbanized presents compelling insights on the matter. Perhaps our response to the city design is in the confidence we feel as a result of the 100 square meter design principle architect Jan Gehl discusses in respect to how most urban city-squares are designed.

Perhaps by visiting a new place and thinking critically about why each decision about that particular city was made, we can enjoy it more.

After watching the film I find my self in my own city and others asking why the streets are on a grid. Why are they not? Why so many parks? Why so little? Why is downtown where it is? And how do these physical spaces affect our social fabrics?

I think by considering some of the ideas presented in Urbanized, we can grow to find our travel experiences locally and non much more engaging and enriching. So, in my opinion, Urbanized is a much watch this summer.

You might watch it before you go, or let it remind you why you’ve previously decided to visit or engage a city. Either way, give this film a go.

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