Dezeen Magazine

Elevation – how drones will change cities

Drones will transform cities, revolutionising how people travel, how goods are delivered and how buildings look and are constructed, according to a documentary by Dezeen.

Aerial highways will relieve pressure on roads as deliveries and human transportation take to the skies in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Architecture will change dramatically as the ground floor entrance is replaced by rooftop landing, parking and recharging zones and deliveries arrive via specially constructed portals on the sides of buildings, or rooftop platforms, built to accommodate drones.

This vision of the future is set out in Elevation, a new documentary created by online architecture magazine Dezeen ( Read an in-depth story about the movie here.

The 18-minute documentary was premiered at Public in New York on 20 May 2018. Further screenings are scheduled around the world over the coming months. See the full schedule of Elevation screenings here.

Elevation includes exclusive footage of Dragonfly, a new concept for delivery drones by PriestmanGoode

Leading figures from the worlds of architecture and technology were interviewed exclusively for the movie.

Humans will soon be travelling by drone

"Delivery drones are here right now, said designer Paul Priestman, chairman of PriestmanGoode, in the trailer. "You can go online and see them delivering objects. And I think the next step is going to be humans travelling by drones."

He added: "Ten or fifteen years ago drones were immensely expensive, complex objects. Now you can buy them at a toy shop."

"I think you could well see the development of aerial highways," said architect Norman Foster, founder of Foster + Partners.

"There are a lot of implications of drones changing the way architecture is perceived and also in the future the way architecture is built," said Hans-Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries.

Liam Young's futuristic In the Robot Skies movie was the first to be filmed entirely by drones and features in Elevation

"Parking for drones will be on the top of buildings. Recharging will be on the top of buildings," said architect Mark Dytham, co-founder of Klein Dytham Architecture. "It's going to be this cloud of wasps everywhere."

"Drones are like an expanded consciousness; an extra eye that allows us to reach places that otherwise we would never reach," said Marina Otero, director of research at Het Nieuwe Instituut.

Drones are "potentially as disruptive as the internet"

Speculative architect Liam Young said: "Now that drones are in the hands of every person in the street, they're potentially as disruptive as the internet."

The documentary features interviews with Norman Foster, Paul Priestman, Mark Dytham, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Liam Young, Anab Jain, Marina Otero Verzier, Ammar Mirjan, Clemens Weisshaar and Ed Reeve.

The 90-second trailer for the movie was unveiled at the GREAT Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong in March 2018. UK culture secretary Matt Hancock described the trailer as "mind-blowing".

The movie features an exclusive soundtrack by Donato Dozzy, who created an extended and specially remixed version of his track Valentina, originally released last year as part of the Air Texture V compilation by Spacetime Continuum and Juju & Jordash.

Dezeen founder and editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs, who also co-directed Elevation, is available for interview.

For press and screening enquiries contact:

Pauline Zberro
[email protected]
+44 (0)20 3327 1230


Directors: Marcus Fairs and Oliver Manzi
Producers: Ben Hobson and Calum Lindsay
Editor: Oliver Manzi
Camera and motion graphics: Miguel Santa Clara
Music: Donato Dozzy
Sound design and mix: Mikkel H. Eriksen of Instrument Studio
Production assistant: Sebastian Jordahn

Additional footage by:

Axiom Images
Bachir Moukarzel
Cambridge Consultants
Carlo Ratti Associati / ActingOUT
Corgan Associates
Chronicle / Alamy Stock Images Vectors And Videos
Defy Media
Ed Reeve / Tassos Fytros
Ehang Intelligent Equipment (Guangzhou)
Foster + Partners
Gramazio & Kohler / Raffaello D’Andrea / ETH Zürich
Herzog & De Meuron / Hamburg Marketing Media Server
Humphreys & Partners Architects
Institute For Dynamic Systems And Control / Gramazio Kohler Research
Italdesign / Airbus
Jon Olsson
Klein Dytham Architecture
Liam Young
Mariana Bisti
Mark Munn / California Phantom
Maverick Solutions
Multimedia Center
Norfolk Constabulary
Pickard Chilton / Arup
Shandong Joyance Intelligence Technology
Stowed Stuff
Studio Drift
The WGBH Media Library and Archives
U.S. Air Force
USA Today