Imagine a city that can fly, float or be a mobile oasis to replenish the desert.

Lancaster University academics Professor Nick Dunn and Dr Paul Cureton have just published research, the first of its kind, examining what our cities might look like over the next century.

This research shows that there is a distinct move towards visions that promote sustainability and resilience rather than continue previous emphasis on the economic development of industrialisation and globalisation.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown the need for new visions for collective life is more urgent and important than ever before.

The project illustrates how challenges of climate change and opportunities of further urbanisation may shape the way we live together in the future.

Imagining the city of the future has long been an inspiration for many architects, artists and designers.

An output from this research, the book ‘Future Cities: A Visual Guide’ provides the most graphically comprehensive survey and analysis of visions for future cities to date and explores the relationships between different visualisation techniques and ideologies for cities.

It uses 175 striking images and information from sources including classic films, Netflix, newspapers and graphic novels.

Thinking about what futures are, who they are for, why they are desirable, and how and when they are to be brought into being is central to the research.

Everyone should have a stake in the collective future of our planet. To help do this, the book proposes new ways to think about future cities.

This work challenges the dominant view of futures being driven by technology, by presenting this as only one of three critical lenses through which to understand futures.

Reflecting a decade of research and working with many archives, the visions in this book were drawn from a diverse collection of 2500 images assembled and evaluated by the authors.

Their vision for future cities embraces three areas:

·        Global Futures – takes account of those visions produced in response to the significant challenges of climate change and how we might enable collective life to be sustained.

·        Social Futures – investigates the experimental and experiential visions for future cities led by an impulse to provide for a new society or create novel urban situations.

·        Technological Futures – examines the optimism of those visions driven by technology and their dialogue with their expressions within science fiction.

Radical visions for future cities are integral to this process in ensuring better futures for tomorrow’s world.

Professor Dunn, an urban designer and futurist, and Dr Cureton, an expert in future environment, conducted archival and investigative work as well as interviews and created a system of evaluations and categorization based on their earlier collaboration for the Government Office for Science in 2014.

This book draws on numerous archives and other sources. It includes mainstream visualisations created by architects, town planners, and urban designers; avant-garde works from architects, artists, and designers; and examples from popular culture such as film, graphic novels, and video games.

Prof Dunn said: “From the beginning of time we, as humans, have longed to know what is ahead of us. We know the future of our lives and the health of our planet depends on us living together in cities. The moment to forge a new future together is now.”

Dr Cureton said: “We all have visions or share associations of what Future Cities will be, at the same time, we also need to understand these imaginaries, connections, failures and their complexities and we need to urgently catalyze this investigation for the challenges ahead…”

This book is published by Bloomsbury on 10 December 2020.

Are you ready for some time travel?


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