The Minnesota Experimental City project was a futuristic attempt to solve urban problems by creating a full-size city from scratch in the isolated woods of northern Minnesota.

This new city would employ the newest technologies in communications, transport, pollution control, energy supply – even large-scale domed enclosure – in an attempt to create more livable cities for the 21st Century. At the heart of the story is renowned scientist, inventor and comic-strip author Athelstan Spilhaus, who dreams of a new kind of planned city – a truly experimental city that continuously changes to find workable urban solutions. It was a compelling vision, with powerful backers, hundreds of experts, and its own state agency. But not everyone fell in line with this newfangled vision for the future.

Watch the trailer

Preceded by the short film Seoul Machine City

Based around the 20’s avante garde cinema genre of the City Symphony, Seoul City Machine is a filmic poem for the urban landscape of tomorrow. The film is a portrait of a city where machines and technology are now the dominant inhabitants of space. Our guide to the city is the disembodied voice of its urban operating system software. Scripted and narrated by an AI chatbot the city machine voices its own creation story and explains itself to the citizens it affectionately manages.

The film is an abstract sequence of vignettes, fragments and moments of a future Seoul, a city in which all of the hopes and dreams, fears and wonders of emerging technologies have come true. Using contemporary Seoul as a visual backdrop the present day city is overlaid with cinematic visual effects to depict an autonomous world of machines world where the sky is filled with drones, cars are driverless, the street is draped in augmented reality and everyone is connected to everything.

Followed by a panel discussion with experts on forward-thinking urban planning right in the UAE.

The Experimental City Director’s Bio

Chad Freidrichs is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, who has directed and produced four feature-length documentary films. He is proficient in all aspects of documentary production, performing most roles during the course of his films, with specialization in editing and post-production. His third film, The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, was recognized with the International Documentary Association’s 2011 ABCNEWS VideoSource award for archival footage usage, the American Historical Association’s prestigious 2012 O’Conner Film Award for outstanding interpretation of history, and the Organization of American Historians’ 2012 Erik Barnouw Film Award. It was praised by Variety as “an uncommonly artful example of cinematic journalism” and ArtForum as “an intelligent meditation on the decline of American cities.” Freidrichs has fulfilled every production task on his documentaries except music production, serving as the lead producer; director; editor; co-writer; cinematographer; colorist; visual effects artist; sound editor, designer and mixer; and even performing most of the high-definition 16mm film scans in his home office.

Seoul Machine City Director’s Bio

Liam Young currently lives and works in London as an independent urbanist, designer and futurist. Liam was named by Blueprint magazine as one of 25 people who will change architecture and design in 2010. He is founder of the futures think tank Tomorrows Thoughts Today (, a group whose projects explores the consequences of fantastic, perverse and speculative architectures and urbanisms. His projects develop fictional near-future scenarios as critical instruments to instigate debate about the social, architectural and political consequences of emerging biological and technological futures. Liam also curates events and exhibitions including the annual Thrilling Wonder Stories series and co produces the nomadic teaching studio the ‘Unknown Fields Division’ ( at the Architectural Association in London. Each year the division travels to extreme landscapes to explore the Unknown Fields between cultivation and nature and spin cautionary tales of a new kind of wilderness.