Planet City, an animated short film by Liam Young, tells a documentary-meets-science-fiction tale investigating how earth’s entire population occupying a hyper-dense metropolis could answer our biggest challenges today.

Entering Planet City, population: 10 billion. Conceived by Australian film director and speculative architect Liam Young for the triennial held by National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), the concept outlines a ‘possible world in which urban sprawl is reversed and humanity retreats together into one densely populated but workable city’. Planet City, the 15-minute film, visualizes how such a place could rejuvenate the wilderness and reverse climate change, enabling both humans and our natural world to thrive. ‘The cities of science fiction are often weighed down by dystopian tales and dark, fearful futures,’ explains Young. ‘However, Planet City, although wildly speculative, is a plausible and optimistic proposal developed from real calculations and research.’

As a result all of the technologies and architectural approaches depicted are already available or in development. Young collaborated with a global network of scientists, theorists and economists to assert that the mitigation of climate change is ‘no longer a technological problem, but rather an ideological one’. Shared community amenities, renewable energy sources, pumped hydro storage, and the use of algae as food and filtration power the closed-loop system that is the city, constructed totally from recycled materials. Seeing the metropolis through the lens of a 365-day festival, the viewer is encouraged to critically consider some of the biggest challenges we face as a global society today – highlighting architecture and design’s role in finding solutions. As NGV’s director Tony Ellwood AM puts it: the film ‘demonstrates the role of speculative architecture in actively designing more sustainable and holistic cities.’

This still from the film depicts what Liam Young calls 'residential mountains', showing how the city would house its inhabitants.

Planet City's solar fields at night.

Inhabitants of Planet City, the Zero Waste Weavers, with costumes by Holly McQuillian, Karin Peterson, Kathryn Walters and masks by Zac Monday and Aneesa Shami. Fibre art for all of the outfitting was done by Janice Arnold. Photo: Driely S

The fictional mega-city's food production happens in enormous indoor farms.

The costumes for the Algae Diver, Nomadic Walker and Drone Shepard (pictured in that order) were designed by Ane Crabtree, with masks by Liam Young. Photos: Driely S

Courtney Shepard's design for the Beekeeper. Photo: Driely S