What if the entire world’s population lived in one single city?

The animated short film by the Australian-born film director and architect explores an extreme scenario for the survival of humanity, where the entire population of the Earth retreats into one big city. Planet City

This article was originally published on Domus 1062, November 2021.

As a consequence of hundreds of years of colonisation, globalisation and never-ending economic extraction and expansionism, we have remade the world from the scale of the cell to the tectonic plate. But what would happen if we managed to radically reverse this planetary sprawl? What if it were possible to reach a global consensus to relinquish our vast network of cities and entangled supply chains and retreat into one hyper-dense metropolis housing every single human being on the planet? 

Planet City is an animated short film and book set in an imaginary city built to accommodate ten billion people, the entire population of the earth. In this scenario, through a process of rewilding, the rest of the world outside the city would be surrendered to a global-scaled wilderness and the return of stolen lands.

Still of the Vertical Orchards of ‘Planet City’, Directed by Liam Young, VFX Supervisor Alexey Marfin,2021.

The film follows a continuous festival procession that dances throughout the city on a 365-day loop. Each day, it intersects and links up with a different carnival, culture and celebration, changing the beat and rhythm as it goes, endlessly cycling through new colours, costumes and cacophonies. Although wildly provocative, Planet City eschews the techno-utopian fantasy of designing a new world order. This is not intended as a neocolonial master plan to be implemented or imposed from a singular seat of power. Instead, it is conceived as a work of critical architecture – a speculative fiction grounded in statistical analysis, research and traditional knowledge.

A collaborative work made up of multiple voices and cultures, the project is supported by an international team of acclaimed environmental scientists, theorists and advisors. In Planet City we see that climate change is no longer a technological problem, but rather an ideological issue rooted in culture and politics. This is a fiction shaped like a city. Planet City is simultaneously an extraordinary image of tomorrow and an urgent examination of the environmental questions facing us in the present.  (from the film director’s descriptive text)

Director and production designer:
Liam Young
Visual effects supervisor:
Alexey Marfin
Costume director and producer:
Ane Crabtree
Visual effects:
Case Miller, Aman Sheth, Vivian Komati, Yucong Wang
Original score:
Forest Swords
Case Miller (capo), Pierce Myers
Narrative consultant:
Jennifer Chen
Costume artists:
Holly McQuillian, Karin Peterson, Kathryn Walters (Zero Waste Weavers), Aneesa Shami (High Altitude Bot Herder), Yeohlee Teng (Code Talker),Courtney Mitchell (Beekeeper), Ane Crabtree (Nomadic Worker, Algae Diver, Drone Shepard)
Costume assistants:
Courtney Mitchell (West coast) Ela Erdogan (East coast)
Fibre artist :
Janice Arnold
Mask artists:
Liam Young (High Altitude Bot Herder, Code Talker, Algae Diver, Drone Shepard), Zac Monday (Zero Waste Weavers), Aneesa Shami (Zero Waste Weavers)
Performed by:
David Freeland Jr, AJ and Miguel Alejandro Lopez, Joy Brown of Jacob Jonas The Company
Commissioned by:
NGV Melbourne for the NGV Triennial 2020 – Ewan McEoin

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