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#Future of Cities IV

In collaboration with Panos Pictures and the World Photography Organisation (WPO), Sony's Global Imaging Ambassadors (SGIA) present a nine-month social documentary initiative called FutureofCities. The project explores how cities around the world are evolving and coping with the large-scale migrations of people from suburban and rural areas into urban environments. 75% of the global population is projected to be living in cities by the middle of this century. Panos photographers have begun examining this change through topics such as urban farming, eco-housing, technological innovations, elastic environments, children at play, green spaces, economic divides and much more. Zackary Canepari - 'Shame of the City'
San Francisco, USA

At its core, it's pretty simple. Living costs have gone up but wages have not. It usually starts small. Lose a job. Get evicted. Then, you're crashing on a friend's sofa one night or in your car the next. Spend all your savings on cheap hotel rooms. Before you know it, you're sleeping on the street or in a shelter. Less than 20% of the homeless populations in the USA are chronically homeless, most people are just poor and unstable.

They camp on the streets in between residencies, even though many of them are working. Not all of them are old or mentally ill or addicted to drugs, but once you fall down the rabbit hole, it's just so hard to get back out, and with the costs in San Francisco so extreme now, that hole just keeps getting deeper. This project was shot at the St. Anthony's Shelter in San Francisco some of the clients come for services or lunch. The portraits were taken in a small improvised studio. It's easy to dimiss the 'Shame of the City' as a systemic problem but it's different when you look into people's eyes and hear the voices of those trapped in the cycle of homelessness.

Suzanne Lee - 'Vertical Gardens'

With ever growing populations, high-rise buildings are becoming an increasingly prevalent feature of cities across the globe. Land is a major constraint in many Asian cities and faced with growing population density, the only way to build is upward. In Singapore, where every square metre counts, high rise buildings have typified the urban fabric for many years.

Singapore leads the way in vertical living with an emphasis on the quality of life for the city state's five and a half million inhabitants. Recent developments have tried to soften the friction between nature and the urban environment by incorporating plants and living organisms into architectural designs and creating 'vertical gardens' that utilise vertical rather than ground space to allow plants to flourish. Singapore is now home to the biggest vertical garden, according to the Guinness Book of Records, with the 2,289 square metre 'Treehouse Development'.

Lianne Milton - 'Social Urbanism'
Medellin, Colombia

In the past decade, Medellin has gone from being one of the most violent cities in the world to a smart tech hub and tourist destination. Former mayor Sergio Fajardo's 'social urbanism', a policy of governmental investment in infrastructure and improved services for the poor, including cable cars, urban escalators and the transformation of a rubbish dump into a garden, has been credited for this rebirth. While the strategy has been successful, thousands of families have been evicted from their homes and relocated to a sprawling complex of public housing for displaced residents which has little access to social services and is an hour's ride from the city center. Arguably the city is now much safer and is experiencing the lowest murder rate in its history. Yet systemic problems such as internal displacement, inequality, organised crime and poverty remain major problems in Colombia's second city. It will take more than a few cablecars and educational programs to advance holistically in social inclusion and equality.

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