Today we are thrilled to introduce a redesign to our site and to launch a new project at HIGHRISE. It’s called PARTICIPATE, and it showcases your photos and stories out highrise windows around the world. It’s a companion to our award-winning 360º documentary OUT MY WINDOW.

The PARTICIPATE project presents pix and stories – some meditative, some personal, some political — but all intimately crafted on the ledge of a highrise window somewhere on the globe. The design of the site allows you to navigate through these images in associative and experiental ways:  through a 360º carousel of windows, through clouds of keywords and also through – my favorite – colours.

Check out the new site here, and submit your own photos and stories here.

Out of the flickr pool (500+ images and growing!), every week we’ll be choosing one photo to feature on the front page of and occcasionally, here at the blog, we will bring you in-depth interviews with some of the photographers behind the images.

This week, our front page selection is the stunning photograph of Graeme Nicol, taken out his 19th floor window in Dalian, China on Chinese Lunar New Year.

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Graeme tells us: “This photo was taken during 2009 Chinese New Year. As usual, I’d arranged to meet up with friends to watch the fireworks, except this year I’d broken an ankle two months previously and was hobbling around on crutches, unable to travel much more than a hundred metres from the front of my high-rise without using taxis. I lived beside a busy shopping centre, and normally I’d only have to wait a minute for a taxi to drive by, but on this night, nothing. I was stuck. I could have waited several hours for a taxi company to send a cab for me, but my frustration at being so immobile had left me under a cloud, and I hobbled back into the warmth of the building to spend the evening watching the fireworks from my the window of my apartment, on my own.

During those three months I spent on crutches, the previous sense of freedom and space I had got from living up on the 19th floor had now turned into a feeling of being trapped. The pleasure of looking out of my window onto a view filled with familiar places, which only months previously had connected me with this adopted city, now began to act as reminders of how set adrift I really was, both as an invalid and as a foreigner. The view out of my window began to feel less like a three-dimensional place that I could go outside and interact with, and more like an old photo; part of my past, but not my present. As soon as I began walking again, the need for a fresh start was overwhelming, and after five years, I said goodbye to Dalian, moving to Shanghai to begin the next chapter of my life.”

Huge kudos to Paramita Nath, our HIGHRISE colleague extraordinaire, who has been working for many, many months on PARTICIPATE, and to all the talented people at the design house DESIGN AXIOM for the crazy-cool site. Also a big shout out to HELIOS for the awesome redesign.

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