Every building in New York City is a neighborhood unto itself, each one with a distinct vibe and community, governed by laws both codified (see: co-ops) and unspecified (see: how residents in a building just happen to know to avoid a specific dryer in the basement because it gets so hot it practically cooks your clothing). Essentially, you could make a full-fledged documentary about each one and have more than enough material. Is it the same elsewhere? CityLab’s new digital series, The Universe Within, which they’ve described as a “choose your own adventure” type of experience, has some surprising answers.
Created in association with the National Film Board of Canada, Universe Within looks at people living in high-rises around the world — Mumbai, Seoul and Toronto are represented, but NYC is sadly omitted, though takeaways nevertheless abound — and how residing atop each other has shaped them. It’s a trippy interactive tour where you’ll need to pick a “spirit guide” — one’s a nine-year-old — to help you navigate, but well worth wading into, if only to meet the likes of Ricardo, a podcaster broadcasting from an Italian housing project called Corviale, whose Web radio show has found success, in part due to teen listeners who live in the building. Or Ahmed, a photographer from Azerbaijan, who finds himself becoming friends with his Armenian neighbors in a half-finished tower in Baku.
If they can find peace, why not New Yorkers arguing over noise?