Imagine the world in 2025. With the majority of the population living in urban areas, which cities will be at the forefront of progress? Is it hubs for innovation; the many Silicon Valleys dotted around the West? Or maybe the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries’ reputedly imminent economic takeover comes to mind? The multimedia project ‘Future Cities’ by journalist Stephanie Bakker and photographer Yvonne Brandwijk is testament to answer C: none of the above.

Journalist Stephanie Bakker and photographer Yvonne Brandwijk have worked on their worldwide project Future Cities for the past three years. This cross-media web documentary forms a portrait of five cities of the future. What do cities like Lima, Kinshasa, Yangon, Medellín and Addis Abeba have in common?

 

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Photographer Yvonne Brandwijk and journalist Stephanie Bakker have worked together since 2014. Future Cities is their first multimedia project. Combining their respective backgrounds in photography and journalism, they have pursued new ways of storytelling and managing long-term documentary projects with a social component. In their co-productions, photography and non-fiction narratives reinforce one another with an emphasis on solutions rather than problems. Their work has been featured in de Volkskrant, die Welt, Citiscope, El Pais/Planeta Futuro, Elsevier Juist, Le Monde Afrique and de Morgen. Future Cities won third prize in Innovative Storytelling in World Press Photo’s 2017 Digital Storytelling Contest.
Why this story? When researching Africa’s fashion scene for a story, Stephanie “bumped into” a map of Global Cities of the Future by the McKinsey Global Institute. She was surprised to see Congo’s Kinshasa listed as one of the top ten hotspots for growth in 2025. Stephanie and Yvonne decided to dig deeper and found five unexpected cities that were leading in their respective fields: art in Yangon, tech in Medellín, gastronomy in Lima, and fashion in Kinshasa. Curious to know more, the duo pitched a five-part series on ‘Future Cities’ to one of the Netherlands’ biggest newspapers, De Volkskrant.
Explanation by the maker Journalist Stephanie Bakker and photographer Yvonne Brandwijk’s multimedia project ‘Future Cities’ explores five surprising hotspots for growth. The web documentary – which was awarded Innovative Storytelling, third prize in World Press Photo’s 2017 Digital Storytelling Contest – breaks new ground in both topic and delivery. CPN Web Editor Deniz Dirim speaks to the pair on steering away from traditional media and deepening the partnership between writer and photographer. Read more
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