TheTED Prize has just announced its 2012 winner, and it turns out to be not a person, but an idea. Cities 2.0 will be the recipient of the annual $100,000 prize, in an unusual move on TED’s part to focus on “the idea” itself. The TED prize recipient typically unveils their concept at the February TED event, but this time the presentation will be based on a collaboration in which the organizers are looking for participants. The announcement is an interesting step from incubating a project to incubating a process; a central characteristic for successful sustainable built environments as we move forward.

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So what this all about? The TED Prize grew out of the phenomena known as TED talks “Ideas worth spreading”. The prize is given to individuals to help them initiate the program or “The Wish” they introduce at aTED conference. This year the prize will be awarded to the collaborative effort of those who will help create The City 2.0, which “promotes innovation, education, culture, and economic opportunity… reduces the carbon footprint of its occupants, facilitates smaller families, and eases the environmental pressure on the world’s rural areas… is a place of beauty, wonder, excitement, inclusion, diversity, life.”

Urbanity has taken on almost an iconic role in design of late, as the pressures of global warming, population growth and resource management all come to a head. In light of projections that estimate 70% of humanity will live in a city by 2050 (up from 50% today), linked with howcities are becoming the best way to develop income equality and a lower environmental footprint per capita, this prize selection starts to make a lot of sense. Cites are complex, organically created places, and are not designed as much as nudged with vertically integrated technologies occasionally changing their very character.

The real twist is how the prize will be awarded. “How will this prize be accepted on behalf of the City 2.0? Through visionary individuals around the world who are advocating on its behalf. We are listening to them and giving them the opportunity to collectively craft a wish. A wish capable of igniting a massive collaborative project among the members of the global TED community, and indeed all who care about our planet’s future.”

Potential collaborators are asked to send an email or comment on how they can contribute to “The Wish”, which will be unveiled on February 29th. We can’t wait to see what they have in store.

+ TED Prize