Find out the winner and the honorable mentions of the CitiesToBe Photo Award 2023!

By  | 2023

Updated on May 4th, 2023

Provoking new reflections on the challenging, yet inspiring nature of cities is the goal of the CitiesToBe Photo Award, Anteverti’s biennial urban photography contest.

After having received 1,189 images from 94 countries submitted to the open call of the contest, the organization of the contest is proud to announce the final winner and the 10 honorable mentions of this year’s competition.

Winner of the CitiesToBe Photo Award:
Nathalie Daoust from Canada

— with a thought-provoking visual testimony on the urbanization process of the nomadic peoples of Mongolia, and on the impact of climate change in the redefinition of urban realities and traditional life habits.

The Canadian photographer Nathalie Daoust has been proclaimed the final winner of the second edition of the CitiesToBe Photo Award. The image he submitted to the competition, entitled ‘In the shadow of the big city’, was taken in 2022 in the Ger district of Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, where nomadic peoples are gradually settling due to the impact of global warming on the supply of food for their herds, which is forcing them to transform their traditional lifestyles.

In the shadow of the big city

by Nathalie Daoust (Canada)

Winning Image
of the CitiesToBe Photo Award 2023

awarded with an acquisitive prize of €1,500 and its incorporation into Anteverti’s private photography collection


«In the last 70 years, Mongolia’s temperatures have climbed three times faster than the world’s average. Every year, summers and winters are becoming harsher. In 2017, the country saw the hottest summer in half a century, during which two thirds of the country were plagued by drought, while desertification has already turned a quarter of its land to desert. Without sufficient grass to eat, animals lack the fodder to survive the world’s coldest winter, when temperatures plunge below minus 40 degrees centigrade. Nomadic herders whose subsistence depends on their animals, are now forced to migrate to Ulaanbaatar’s overcrowded Ger districts, the areas of the capital where they are allowed to put up their yurts for the meanwhile until they are ready to go back home. Thousands of nomadic families arrive to the “New City” created for them. Finding a job while living in such a place with no sanitation, running water or central heating, has become an everyday struggle. During the winter, the cheapest way to keep warm is burning coal, however this constitutes 80% of Ulaanbaatar’s winter emissions, generating some of the worst air pollution on earth and most of them are looking to go back home.»

Nathalie Daoust (born in 1977 in Montreal, Canada) dedicates her work to unveiling the secrets hidden beneath the apparent stability of life, while exploring the indefinable realm between truth, fantasy and the human desire for escapism through experimental photographic methods. During her career, she has developed conceptual projects in Tokyo, Brazil, Switzerland, New York, North Korea or Mongolia, where she carried out her ‘Tent City’ project — to which the winning work of the CitiesToBe PhotoAward 2023 belongs.

Daoust’s work joins the winner of the CitiesToBe Photo Award 2020, ‘Vorkuta’, by Russian documentary photographer Roman Demyanenko. Together with the finalist images of the contest, the image was part of various exhibitions at events such as the Smart City Expo World Congress or the Cruïlla Festival in Barcelona, as well as the book of the edition published in 2021.

📣 📸 A visual journey that invites us to think about the interrelated layers and realities that make up our cities today: check out the awarded works of the #CitiesToBe Photo Award 2023, @Anteverti's #UrbanPhotography contest 👇🏽 Clic para tuitear

9 Honorable Mentions

for images with an exceptional ability to inspire reflections on the different realities and layers that make up cities

Additionally, 9 images have been distinguished by the jury with honorable mentions for their exceptional ability to inspire reflections on the different realities and layers that make up cities and how they interrelate with each other.

‘The fisherman, Paris 2021’

by Benedetta Ristori (Italy)

— taken in Paris, France


«Les Choux de Créteil are part of the post-war brutalist architecture around the french capital. From 1968 onwards, a new urban center was developed in Créteil, France, with seven districts entrusted to different architects. The architect Gérard Grandval proposed an organic and brutalist project for the neighborhood near the courthouse: a group of round buildings lined with petal-shaped balconies that would be nicknamed the” City of the Cauliflowers” some years later. The “dahlia”, originally composed of social housing, was restructured and part of the apartments were then allocated to students. In the 2010s, the Manoïlesco architectural firm renovated the building to create 172 student rooms and 18 family apartments.»

Great Expectations

by Laura Roth (Austria)

— taken in Lanzarote, Spain


«Taking the theme of islands as its starting point, the photo series “Great Expectations” traces a broad arc from paradisiacal expectations of island living to tourism in times of the climate crisis. How could island life – which we always associate with a relaxing place of longing – take place in the future? Through a careful look at absurdities, peculiarities and landscapes, a new approach to the island living in its rawness should be created. Islands are often small places, but with a big impact. In times of rapidly rising sea levels and increasing storms, islands are vulnerable. As new islands emerge, old one’s face drowning. A life of uncertainty on sinking paradises and the question about how Island live could take part in the future.»


Kyiv: urban change

by Gianluca Cecere (Italy)

— taken in Kyiv, Ukraine


«March 2022, Kyiv, Ukraine. Trenches, mines, cheval-de-frise and more rudimentary systems: obstacles and resources used to barricade themselves have changed the face of the urban spaces of the Ukrainian capital. Independence Square, the most important square in the city, but also minor streets, have become an obstacle course for pedestrians but above all for four-wheeled vehicles. The aim is obviously to obstacle the advance of the Russian enemy, but when you know this city as it was before, one cannot fail to be struck by this profound militarization that has changed the face of the city..»


by Dasha Sapranetskaya (Belarus)

— taken in Minsk, Belarus


«At the end of the winter of 2020 in Belarus, when independent journalists were constantly detained and government increased the terror and mass repression still further, I was overcome by permanent anxiety. Every day I read the news, how riot policemen broke down the doors of someone, how someone was sentenced to years in prison. I came up with a therapy for myself in the form of walks in the urban areas of Minsk. I borrowed a medium format film camera and wandered around looking for old dovecotes. I loved those weird makeshift pigeon houses that fit so well into the urban landscape. Protest graffiti were often painted on them. I wanted to collect as many pictures as possible, because only older people are engaged in breeding pigeons. There are fewer of them every year, as well as dovecotes. I have tried to preserve these strange buildings as an archive of the time that is passing.»


The Spread of Over Development

by Therese Debono (Malta)

— taken in Qawra, Malta


«Blank is a research project that highlights the nondescript buildings that are currently taking over the island of Malta. In a quest to build fast and sell faster, few architects and contractors are genuinely interested in preserving buildings, keeping with the narrative and context of a place. Plenty of buildings are crowding the peripheries of towns and villages to the point that there is barely any space between one location and another. Blank is a visual study that seeks to offer the public a voice in an effort to protest against these boring structures that make people feel empty. It is a protest against the massive edifices that are suffocating the village and town cores, taking over heritage at such a rapid pace that in a few years’ time, Malta’s characteristic architecture will become obsolete. The photo depicts a shot of the many third-party blank walls which are dominating the skylines and littering the streets on the island of Malta. The white blank walls represent the narrow-minded people that cannot see the repercussions that this unregulated development is having on the country. The project is still in works in progress state.»


Halfeti’s Delights

by Ralph Gräf (Germany)

— taken in Jeserig, Germany


«This photo belongs to my conceptual book project «Brandenburg Unplugged». It was taken at dusk in a small village in rural Brandenburg called Jeserig. The girl in front was hiding from her parents, who were still waiting inside the booth to get their kebab.


The urban playground

by Mithail Afrige Chowdhury

— taken in Dhaka, Bangladesh


«Young people playing cricket on a rooftop at Dhaka, Bangladesh. The total area of Dhaka city is 306.4 square kilometers with approximately 18 million residents. And 48 per cent of this population is children below 18. Unfortunately, for this huge number of children there are only 148 playgrounds and 27 parks. There are no parks for the children to play within several blocks radius from where I live. Moreover, most of the playgrounds don’t even have touch of nature, let alone having proper arrangements for playing.»

Alternative landscape

by Ghazaleh Yazdanparast Tehrani

— taken in Karaj, Iran


Ghazaleh Yazdanparast Tehrani draws inspiration from capturing the true face of cities and urban landscapes. She was born in Mashhad and lived in Tehran to pursue her passion of discovering cities through her camera. She studied graphic design and graduated with a master’s degree in visual communication from the Fine Art University of Tehran. Later, Ghazaleh and her husband and established the Nimkat Studio, which was established for architectural photography. Now she devotes herself entirely to visual Art of photography.


by Toma Gerzha (The Netherlands)

— taken in Saint Petersburg, Russia


«The Western High-Speed Diameter (Saint Petersburg) is the most popular road in Russia with more than 380,000 payments per day. During the construction of the WHSD, the old districts of Saint Petersburg were built up. These neighbourhoods were subsequently resettled, but the buildings have still not been demolished eight years later. This is how, for example, a ghetto was formed on Kanonersky Island.»


Finalist images

The rest of the finalist images of the edition can be viewed in this gallery.

The organizing committee of the CitiesToBe Photography Award 2023 wishes to express its gratitude to the 1,189 authors who have submitted their works to the contest, which constitute a rich, valuable and inspiring testimony of the urban complexity around our planet.

In the coming months, the finalist images will be disseminated through the Anteverti and CitiesToBe social media channels, with the aim of inspiring new reflections on the challenges facing today’s urban world. In the same way, they will be included in the Edition’s Book, which will be published this year.

📸🌏 From the ephemeral wartime architecture in #Kyiv to the demand for the right to public space in Dhaka: check out the awarded works of the #CitiesToBe Photo Award 2023, @Anteverti's #UrbanPhotography contest 👇🏽 Clic para tuitear

About the authors

Head of Communications & CitiesToBe Executive Editor at Anteverti | + posts

Sergio García i Rodríguez is an expert in strategic communication, internationalization, and new digital narratives with over 10 years of experience working for international organizations, the press, and the private sector. Since 2018, he has served as the Head of Communication at Anteverti, the executive editor of their knowledge platform, CitiesToBe, and a senior consultant.

Sergio's projects have included assisting Seoul in designing its new Smart City Brand, conceptualizing the narrative of the New Urban Agenda of Catalonia, and creating various concept stands for the city of Barcelona at the Smart City Expo World Congress. Before this role, he led and implemented strategies and initiatives at the UNDP, T-Systems, and Agencia Efe. He holds a master's degree in International Studies, a postgraduate degree in Digital Content, and a bachelor's degree in Translation.

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