Our future in cities in 9 TED Talks


SEETIES The 50% of the world population lives in urban areas and about a third of it lives in shantytowns and slums. Urbanization is a growing phenomenon and it’s expected that by the middle of this century it will involve more than two thirds of humanity. Crowded favelas, greened-up blocks and futuristic districts could shape the future of our cities and suburbs. Here we invite you to listen to 9 TED Talks about this complex and fascinating topic. Because humanity’s future is the future of cities.

“Earth At Night” by NASA (2012). The world’s cities by night. 


1) Stewart Brand on squatter cities – Rural villages worldwide are being deserted, as billions of people flock to cities to live in teeming squatter camps and slums. Stewart Brand says this is a good thing. Why? It’ll take you 3 minutes to find out.

2) Majora Carter: Greening the ghetto – In an emotionally charged talk, MacArthur-winning activist Majora Carter details her fight for environmental justice in the South Bronx and shows how minority neighborhoods suffer most from flawed urban policy.

3) Jaime Lerner sings of the city  – Jaime Lerner reinvented urban space in his native Curitiba, Brazil. Along the way, he changed the way city planners worldwide see what’s possible in the metropolitan landscape.

4) Robert Neuwirth on our “shadow cities” – Robert Neuwirth, author of “Shadow Cities”, finds the world’s squatter sites where a billion people now make their homes to be thriving centers of ingenuity and innovation. He takes us on a tour.

5) William McDonough: Cradle to cradle design – Green-minded architect and designer William McDonough asks what our buildings and products would look like if designers took into account “all children, all species, for all time”.

6) Alex Steffen: The shareable future of cities – How can cities help save the future? Alex Steffen shows some cool neighborhood-based green projects that expand our access to things we want and need while reducing the time we spend in cars.

7) Paul Romer: Why the world needs charter cities – How can a struggling country break out of poverty if it’s trapped in a system of bad rules? Economist Paul Romer unveils a bold idea: “charter cities,” city-scale administrative zones governed by a coalition of nations. (Could Guantánamo Bay become the next Hong Kong?).

8) Kent Larson: Brilliant designs to fit more people in every city – How can we fit more people into cities without overcrowding? Kent Larson shows off folding cars, quick-change apartments and other innovations that could make the city of the future work a lot like a small village of the past.

9) James Kunstler: How bad architecture wrecked cities – In James Howard Kunstler’s view, public spaces should be inspired centers of civic life and the physical manifestation of the common good. Instead, he argues, what we have in America is a nation of places not worth caring about.


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