I love my life in a wheelchair. I love my job as a project-manager at my own organization, my friends and my family. What I hate are barriers! Nearly every building in my neighborhood has steps, or sometimes an entire staircase, in front of its doors. So, wheelchair users like me have to stay out. The older the city you live in, the harder it is. In societies with more and more elderly people, the accessibility issue is growing bigger and bigger. How can we solve this?
Raúl asks: How can I, as a self-determined wheelchair user, discover and explore a city independently?
Helmut Breineder answers: The future city should create an urban space geared toward all its inhabitants, with all their certain needs. In the video, I mounted my camera on the bottom of a car to create a very low angle perspective–like a person sitting in a wheelchair–that gives you the feeling of being an invisible observer traveling through the city’s veins.
Sao Paulo is home to people with all kinds of cultural and social backgrounds packed into a narrow space: a place that contains millions of stories within 1500 square kilometers. As I move through it, I think about how megacities, and the ways they currently function, have reached their limits. The cities of the future have to take steps to provide a life worth living for all their inhabitants, those from different cultural or social background, and those with different possibilities for mobility. The city will probably have a completely computerized infrastructure, observed by extensive surveillance cameras and controlled by an omnipresent intelligent system to optimize the “workflow” of the urban space for all the inhabitants with their certain needs.
Living in a completely technology dependent space will have huge advantages, though it will also create big challenges. The future of the city is being designed right now. Thinking harder about the impacts of our innovations can give us the chance to improve this future. We probably have to rethink the transportation concept that makes streets just for cars and pavement just for pedestrians. Perhaps the future is about safe streets easily accessible for everybody, also for people in wheelchairs.
Music: Mariko Noir – U-turn
Co-director: Lars Mylius