Our identity image has been created using a composite set of symbols that carried a dialogue between complexity and simplicity, between modern trajectories and mythological stories, and between existing realities and the possibilities of rethinking cities as places of sustainable living. The source of inspiration for the ambiguous form that the city might take was to be the Tower of Babel. The image draws upon a number of elements.
- The building profiles used in the image include the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, 333 Collins Street in Melbourne, and the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai.
- The bridge in the image is the Donghai Bridge in Shanghai spanning the Zhejiang Gulf.
- The customary boat represents people living in cities by the water. Historically some of the cities chosen as research locations for the Global Cities Institute were once fishing or trading villages.
- The bicycle-rider and the person on bridge are representations of people inhabiting cities and either moving from the hinterlands to the cities or living in the cities in different ways. It also links to the most appropriate alternative forms of transport to the current emphasis on the car—namely walking and cycling.
- The tuk tuk is the Southeast Asian version of a vehicle known elsewhere as an auto-rickshaw or cabin-cycle.
- From a quite different context, the balloon and the light tower are silhouettes from the Melbourne Cricket Ground, past and present. The MCG opened in 1853. It is built on the site of the first ‘recognized’ Australian Rules game and the first Test cricket match between Australia and England in 1877. Hot-air balloons often grace the skies of Melbourne, and the light towers are a recent addition to the MCG allowing the hyper-commercialization of the two sports while transcending the previous limitations of night and day. This issignified also by the nineteenth-century Victorian street lamp, now a romantic reference to the supposedly elegant past of ‘Marvellous Melbourne’.
- The graphic symbols include the Ashoka Chakra (white wheel) an ancient Indian depiction of the Dharmacakra, the Wheel of Life and Cosmic Order. The wheel has twenty-four spokes, each of which signifies a spiritual principle. A symbol from the Tamil language swirls at the bottom of the image. Tamil is a language spoken predominantly by Tamils in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore, and is one of the few living classical languages which has an unbroken literary tradition of over two millennia. The sign near the white wheel is from the Cantonese language one of the five major Chinese languages, and is part of the old name for Ho Chi Minh City—Sái Gón.
- The propellers of a wind power-generator represent alternative sustainable energy sources in the context of climate change.
- The illustration of the Papua New Guinea crested Bird of Paradise is derived from the Papua New Guinea national flag. This element is sitting in the tree profile, which itself represents the old-growth forest of Kuala Lumpur, the only city in the world to have a million-year-old primary forest within the heart of the city.