Cities are the future of humanity. The only viable way to accommodate – and sustain – a global population trending towards ten billion by the turn of the century. The implications of this are evident to every engineer, architect and urban planner on the planet: we are standing on the threshold of a building boom that completely defies belief, with literally half the urban area we’ll need, yet to be conceived.

There are many questions that require immediate answers; many challenges that need to be addressed. Not only for generations to come, but for those living in the here and now. In order to meet each and every demand, do we try to retro-fit cities that are already bursting at the seams or build new ones, entirely from scratch? How do we second-guess what the future holds when we envisage their form and function? How do we safeguard and build for social, economic and environmental equity, when the world around us is changing so fast?

With commentary from a panel of global experts in the field of urban-planning, HOW TO BUILD A CITY dedicates each episode to a single destination: New York, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, Seattle, Naples, Berlin and Canberra. We explore the way each city rose into being and the way it continues to evolve. 3D animations and stylized graphics allow us to look back in time (and below the surface of busy city streets) to better understand the hidden anatomy of each urban centre.

As we race towards an increasingly urbanised future, there is much to learn from the present and the past; from the ‘HOW, the NOW and the WOW’ of building the greatest cities in the world.

Paris Tower ClusterNew York Underground System