From the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada's HIGHRISE project, this open-source, web-native document is about reimagining cities - and the web. One Millionth Tower is an initiative aiming to explore how participatory urban design can have global implications how it is possible to transform urban and virtual spaces.

Communication Strategies: 

This film project is a result of a community collaboration between residents, architects, documentarians, and animators to re-imagine spaces: low- and middle-income highrise buildings. One Millionth Tower is grounded in a highrise on Kipling Avenue in suburban Toronto, Canada, where the HIGHRISE team worked with residents for over two years. In the words of organisers: "One Millionth Tower re-imagines a universal thread of our global urban fabric - the dilapidated highrise neighbourhood. More than one billion of us live in vertical homes, most of which are falling into disrepair. Highrise residents, together with architects, re-envision their vertical neighbourhood, and animators and web programmers bring their sketches to life in this documentary for the contemporary web browser."


The result of this collaboration is a visual story crafted to be watched on the internet. It uses interactive tools to illustrate the Toronto residents' ideas about how to improve the decaying high-rise in which they live. Powered by HTML5, WebGL, and other open source JavaScript libraries, One Millionth Tower features photos and information, and exists in an online environment that is intended to be close to a three-dimensional experience. Specifically, visitors to the One Millionth Tower website may explore how participatory urban design can transform spaces, places, and minds. Additional features include:


  • a behind-the-scenes documentary about the collaborative process;
  • a short documentary featuring international examples of tower revitilisation;
  • a short documentary exploring the open technology used to create the project; and
  • an interactive feature that takes people to highrise neighbourhoods in more than 200 countries in the world, based on Google Streetview and satellite imagery. It is based on original research to find and understand highrise communities around the globe.
Development Issues: 

Urban and Economic Development, New Technologies.

Key Points: 

According to the filmmakers, many of the hallmark problems that these residents face are found in highrise communities around the globe: deteriorating buildings; physical and cultural separation from the downtown core; poor access to social services and commerce; poor public transit and long-distance commutes, resulting in a reliance on cars and long travel times; and little or no community play space for children, as well as no community space and fabric between the residential buildings themselves.

See video

Email from Katerina Cizek to The Communication Initiative on November 28 2011; and One Millionth Tower website, December 2 2011.