This AR App Imagines the Skyscraper Needed to House Toronto’s 116,000 At-Risk Families

Taxi and United Way help visualize the extent of poverty

Taxi partnered with United Way to create an AR skyscraper as part of the Toronto skyline. Norm Li
Headshot of Ian Zelaya

More than 116,000 families in the Toronto area currently struggle with poverty, which also affects one in seven individuals across Canada, according to the Canadian government.

To shed light on these statistics, agency Taxi Toronto and the United Way have launched a campaign that uses augmented reality to imagine how large of a skyscraper the city would need to house those 116,000 families.

Taxi partnered with technology company Array of Stars to create an AR app that puts the building, called “The #Unignorable Tower,” directly into the Toronto skyline. There, it makes for a striking contrast, as it would soar nearly a mile into the air and almost double the height of today’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

The app invites users to share their views of the tower on social media, offers facts about poverty in the Greater Toronto Area and encourages users to make donations to United Way.


“We know stats can be easy to ignore,” said Alexis Bronstorph, executive creative director of Taxi Toronto. “But by changing our skyline using something everyone can understand—the world’s tallest building—we can visualize data in a way that hits close to home.”

Taxi worked with architecture firm KPMB to design the imaginary tower, which would be nearly three times the height of the city’s CN Tower if it were real. The skyscraper aims to visualize the city’s poverty problems, but doesn’t factor in the practical logistics required for a real building, such as elevators and hallways. The size of the tower was calculated by imagining 116,317 units at 700 square feet each. Each floor contains 240 units for a total of 484 stories, which would make the building’s height 1,480 meters—approximately 4,855 feet.


To coincide with the launch of the app at the end October, Taxi also opened an exhibit in downtown Toronto that displays a scale model of the tower and 3-D renderings created by design studio Norm Li. The campaign also involved creating fake “Notice of Development” boards near existing construction sites to highlight the scope of the project that would be necessary.


The AR activation areas were placed around the city at notable spots with a view of the skyline to encourage social sharing. Ian Zelaya is an Adweek reporter covering how brands engage with consumers in the modern world, ranging from experiential marketing and social media to email marketing and customer experience.