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_A Short History of the Highrise

This interactive documentary, designed as an immersive storybook experience, details the 2,500 year history of the highrise building and the humans they house.

2013 Katerina Cizek
EN Visit the project

“I wanted a very simple idea: You could just watch the film and do nothing at all–but if you were interested, you could swipe down and find out more. I was inspired how tablets are changing the way we read.”

Kat Cizek, Director, in Fast Company

The National Film Board of Canada’s multi-project storyworld HIGHRISE explores the lives of residents in highrise towers from Toronto to Beirut. Communities are revealed and sometimes rebuilt through the participatory processes and local projects that become part of this interactive documentary collection.

But what about the highrise’s reach in time, not just in space? A Short History of the Highrise tackles this question by plumbing the ancient history of vertical living and connecting those deep roots with the state of such structure today. The project takes the form of an interactive book—a children’s book, using rhyming narration that tells the story in a series of chapters which viewers can then delve into, unlocking more content like interviews and archival images.

Produced in conjunction with the New York Times—a bastion of nonfiction storytelling in a city renowned for its skyscrapers and highrise buildings—A Short History of the Highrise adds another layer to the HIGHRISE universe, encouraging viewers to rethink the meaning of these massive structures and the way they’ve shaped human lives for so long.

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