A Short History of the Highrise

20 min 2 s
Katerina Cizek

Produced by the National Film Board of Canada and the New York Times, A Short History of the Highrise is an interactive documentary that explores the 2,500-year global history of vertical living and the issue of social equality in an increasingly urbanized world.

The centerpiece of the project is four short films. The first three (Mud, Concrete and Glass) draw on the New York Times’ extraordinary visual archives, a repository of millions of photographs that, for the most part, have not been seen in decades. Each film is intended to evoke a chapter in a storybook, with rhyming narration and photos brought to life through intricate animation. The fourth chapter (Home) comprises images submitted by the public and set to music. The interactive experience incorporates the films and, like a visual accordion, allows viewers to dig deeper into the project’s themes through additional archival materials, text and microgames.