If ever there was doubt over whether urbanism could be made cool, the launch of The Crystal, a new sustainable building by Siemens in London did just that. The building opens to the public on September 29th, and will be the world’s first center dedicated to improving our knowledge of urban sustainability, focusing on the technologies and solutions that can help bring the planet sustainably into the megacity era.
On Wednesday night, the facade of the building was illuminated into a live 3D art projection, a transformation I’ve only seen at electro parties and over the top fashion shows. The show begins with a virtual flipping through of historic moments in sustainable urbanism, morphing into images of global cities such as New York, Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro, with a population counter reminding us of the pace of urban growth. “Shape the Future” and “The Future Starts Here” the video projects as images of sustainable energy flash by.
Critical to this call for action is that “the fight against climate change will be won or lost in cities.” Cities now consume about 75% of the world’s energy and emit around 80% of all greenhouse gases, says The Crystal website. By 2050, over 50% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Critical to these statistics will also be how cities quantify what is urban and not.
Fittingly, the building is located at the Royal Victoria Docks, the center of London’s new Green Enterprise District. Its name makes a direct reference to the 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition, a landmark event in industrial technological advancement across disciplines.
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