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The NYU Stern Urbanisation Project was created to ‘harness the growth of global cities to speed up global progress’ – they aim to discover intelligent, sustainable ways of constructing the urban environment as our global population more than doubles over the next century.

In order to better see the future of our city environments, the Project has sought to understand their past development. They have designed a series of visualisations, charting the urban sprawl of 30 cities over the last 200 years.

It’s both impressive and worrying to see the rapid expansion of these environments in such a short space of time – from the post-war suburbanisation of the outer reaches of London to the dramatic population boom of Lagos since the 1980s.

These visualisations allow us to see the impact of our modern urban expansionism. Cities may feel like immovable, timeless fixed points, but it is clear that we are presently living in an era of unparalleled growth and population concentration - the booms illustrated by these animations demonstrate the crucial importance of thoughtful design and intelligent management for our future cities.