Darryl Chen, 27 04 09

Everyone knows Golden Lane from the Smithsons, right? We’re talking streets in the sky and those great collages of convivial couples on elevated walkways. Well, it joins the ranks of architecture’s Most Famous Second-Place-Getters eclipsing the actual built scheme. It’s a pity that hardly anyone knows much about the architects who came first – Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, who are otherwise known for the ground- and rule-breaking Barbican development next door. Even fewer would care to realize that the Barbican’s high walkways represent a successful (!) and built (!) example of those streets in the sky. Maybe, those kinds of concepts are best remembered in the imaginary and speculative world of architectural competitions than actual physical realities. Plus, the Smithsons (three noteworthy leaking buildings and a crapload of dogma) are untouchable, aren’t they…? (more…)

Darryl Chen, 20 04 09

“I thought: here is a fiction for the present day. I wasn’t interested in the far future, spaceships and all that. Forget it. I was interested in the evolving world, the world of hidden persuaders, of the communications landscape developing, of mass tourism, of the vast conformist suburbs dominated by television – that was a form of science fiction, and it was already here.”

Darryl Chen, 18 04 09

One week in London witnessed three amazing urban spectacles – a feast for urban geeks that was not lost on us at TTT.


Liam Young, 01 04 09

Liam Young and Tomorrows Thoughts Today will be showing a selection of project prints at the FUTURE.city.past.FORWARD exhibition in the d3 gallery in Brooklyn New York from April 11 – May 3, 2009. The exhibition features work in art, architecture, interior design, industrial design, and graphics that expresses futurism at various scales and from emerging perspectives.


Darryl Chen, 24 03 09

Futurology, future-casting or futurism (with a little ‘f’) used to be a serious business. Now it’s just become business. (more…)

Liam Young, 04 03 09

An Exhibition of the work of Intermediate Studio 7 run by Tomorrows Thoughts Today’s Liam Young and Kate Davies from Liquid Factory will be opening Friday 26th February in the Architectural Association’s Back members room. The exhibition titled ‘Where the Wild Things Are…’ will run until the 27th March. Update: Exhibition photos have been added below. (more…)

Liam Young, 03 03 09

A selection of pieces from the Specimens of Un Natural History project will be on show in the Spaces and Narrations exhibition in the Triangle Gallery at 16 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4JU. The exhibition will run from 9th March until the 13th March. For those of you not in London you can follow the work in the Slow Thoughts column. Update: More photos added below. (more…)

Liam Young, 19 02 09

Liam Young from Tomorrows Thoughts Today and Kate Davies will be hosting a public lecture by designer Fiona Raby from dunne and Raby at the Architectural Association in London on Friday 20th February 6.00pm. (more…)

Darryl Chen, 25 01 09

The Bishop of Stepney once remarked that each parish church in his diocese was no more than five minutes walk from the last. As an organizing system of governance, accountability and dissemination of religious doctrine, the Anglican parish system was an effective means of organizing the burgeoning cities of England through the scale of the local neighbourhood. 

Tesco supermarkets are distributed with the same rigour. Each new store is planned with software allowing the right matching of store size with catchment area. Tesco’s market share is more than twice its nearest rival and so as the blue and red logo continues to sweep through England’s cities, we ask could the Tesco catchment area be the new urban parish? (more…)

Liam Young, 15 12 08

One from the ‘I must write about this but never got around to it pile’. An article in the Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal and on BBC looks at how a recent virus outbreak in the online game community World of Warcraft is being used as a research tool to study and predict the patterns of a real world pandemic. (more…)

Darryl Chen, 01 12 08


Reinier de Graaf presented OMA’s Ras-Al-Khaimah project to a packed audience last thursday for the Architecture Foundation in London. After a characteristically thrilling account of global urban affairs effectively narrated by statistic and graph, the talk turned to the patronisingly-titled “city in the desert” project (as though we could describe London as a “city by the river”), bringing on what could be described as one of those “Elvis has left the building” moments.

OMA’s reading of Dubai as a study in banality has its response in the banal urban proposition for RAK, though in this case, banality is not the insistent cultural phenomenon of Dubai’s skyline, but rather the unashamed rolling out of the urbanist’s stock-in-trade – “compact city” densities, a public transport loop, and (yawn) the accommodation of a naturally occurring oasis. The mediocrity of this proposition is nowhere near recovered by its context-less square plan and generic city grid, tired emblems of what may be late-OMA mannerism. This is a scheme so mediocre it begs the question – what happened to one of the most intellectually engaging self-critical practices on the planet?  (more…)

Liam Young, 03 11 08

Japan thinks the real world should be more like Gundam, the apocalyptic robot war series. Next year, a team of experts from all walks of life will join together to form the Gundam Academy, an academic institution dedicated to bringing humanity into the age of mecha suits, helper robots, and space colonization. It’s time for the Universal Century. (more…)

Liam Young, 03 11 08

Drifting endlessly above the earth are the suburban dwellers that occupy these visions of 70’s space utopias. In the looming shadow of the cold war fears of nuclear apocalypse led us to envision new worlds above the crust of the earth drifting endlessly as orbital suburbs with all the comforts of home. (more…)

Liam Young, 03 11 08

Nothing dates like images of the future. As a wide eyed child I remember sitting cross legged on the floor, with the flickering images of the Jetsons illuminating my saturady morning, thumbing through the pages of the Usborne books of the Future and the World of Tomorrow series. (more…)

Liam Young, 02 11 08

We have been invited to exhibit The Specimens of Un Natural Histories project at the upcoming DesignCinema Exhibition in Istanbul. The exhibition and accompanying conference will run from the mid till the end of November. On display will be drawings and photographs of a range of specimens. If you cant make it to istanbul then cast your eyes across to the slow thoughts column where you can see the project immortalised in blog form.

Darryl Chen, 23 10 08

TTT is presenting the next session of “Universettee” – a mobile series of lectures that takes place in living rooms throughout East London.
Robots, micronations, perverse urbanism
… and other fiction from the not so distant future
… narrated by TomorrowsThoughtsToday.
Monday 3rd Nov 2008
7.30pm for food. 8pm presentation
The Barbican – RSVP for more details
universettee website

Darryl Chen, 14 10 08

Five hours from Tokyo and a half hour boat ride across the Setonaikai, one finds Naoshima. This island retreat once was a fishing village, but is now an art-themed Elysium inhabited by sculpture parks, two spectacular Ando museums, and a fishing village exquisitely retrofitted with site-specific artwork. Even the ferry terminal is a Sanaa bespoke. (more…)

Darryl Chen, 09 10 08

On a street of love hotels in Osaka, the Don Quijote building presents the idea of ‘facade as amusement park ride’, in so doing, referencing the room compartments of capsule hotels and indeed the capsulized love within pay-per-hour hotels. (more…)

Liam Young, 11 09 08

 Tomorrows Thoughts Today just presented a paper at the Royal Geographical Society’s Annual Conference. The paper was titled Retrofitting Suburbia: Navigating from the Generic to the Specific and is part of a larger provocative exploration into the consequences of the sustainable suburb model. With thanks to Richard Gatti who kindly read the paper while TTT was stretched across Asia on other projects. The conference programme can be found here.

Liam Young, 20 08 08

"The 21 Steps" by Charles Cumming screenshot

It begins suggestively “I was the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time.” This is the opening to “The 21 Steps” by Charles Cumming. It is the first of six stories written in answer to the Penguin challenge to reinvent fiction through the medium of the internet. This narrative unfolds across the birdseye London of Google Maps. Click after click you follow the story from the air, familiar places of the city, overwritten with the invisible trials of our intrepid protagonists. Here Google Maps is not just a tool of location and navigation but an excursion into daydream and fantasy. read it here

phantom bird nests

I am reminded of my recent trip to Beijing where I played architectural tourist, scouting out a preview of the Olympic icons guided by my Google Map print outs. Just like our ’21 steps’ hero I was consistently the wrong man in the wrong place, this time however it was the misinformation of my Google guide that led me astray. I had to track down each building from somewhere within a point cloud of misguided user added Google markers. Like a roadtrip couple bickering over who gets to use the map, it seems the collective intellegence of the web is yet to reach a sightseeing consensus.  I was walking a fictional Beijing, filled with eight imaginary Bird Nests, a new reading of place built from the mistakes of hundreds of Google literate, lost tourists.

So here we are, iphone at the ready, Google Maps in hand, embarking on journeys of strangeness and novelty as our cities are imbued with the traces of invisible maps of fantasy, mistakes, and misdirection, all uploaded by the connected population of the world/web 2.0.

Darryl Chen, 19 08 08


Brasilia’s six-lane motorways embrace yesterday’s promise of the speeding automobile that even taxis suffer. They stop far too often. Forget flagging a cab – you really need a driver. So it should come as no surprise that Niemeyer’s Metropolitan Cathedral at the heart of Brasilia’s central axis is planned around an undergound drop-off lane and subterranean carpark. That leaves just the spectacular roof crown visible above ground, as well as a colonnade of statues aligning a pedestrian axis that goes nowhere. (I said, you are supposed to arrive by car.) Coroporate worship meets the autobahn… Aqui há invenção! 


Darryl Chen, 29 07 08


Who ever thought that travelling from one side of the Huangpu River to the other could be such a mind-altering experience? After descending from the regal Bund district into a collecting tunnel, uniformed attendees usher you into a sanitized antechamber, receiving room for the automated people-movers small standing height vehicles taking the form of white bubbles, exhibiting a smoothness of design not out of place in Kubrick’s A Space Odyssey. Eerie muzak dominates over the electrical silence of the vehicles adding to the cinematic nature of the experience. Pass the duchie and read on.   


Darryl Chen, 28 07 08

In the broad range of street delights, Starbucks guarantees a minimum standard. It is the customer’s right to demand the Starbucks brew, but no more. 13,000 branches worldwide, and a basic beverage menu of 10. Keep the masses happy – so with coffee, also with urbanism. Limit your options to a basic street section, a basic building form, a basic elevation, a basic material range and a basic colour palette, and you can guarantee a basic product, mediocrity par excellence.

Darryl Chen, 21 07 08

Monthly mag for the city’s homeless, The Pavement, is running a campaign of self-information for London’s rough sleepers. It asks for a mobilization of perhaps the city’s most mobile demographic group to implement an easily updatable signage system. A kind of user-content noticeboard 2.0 that puts its hopes in the power of collective intelligence. Makes sense – who really knows the streets better on a day-to-day basis?It is the stuff of a young Tschumi’s dreams. An alternate reading of urban space and a corresponding notation that sits just below the radar of middle class commuting. A new psychogeography leaping from the boards of student diploma projects to be inscribed 1:1 scale on/in the physical space of the city. Just join the dots and photograph in grainy black and white.


Darryl Chen, 21 07 08

OSCAR NIEMEYER WANTS — the big gesture. the curve of the land. the sensuousness of the female body. the purity of form. the aesthetic experience. the freedom of space.
[The result ---- the master architect. the icon. the averagely-detailed one-liner. impressive from fifty metres, average from five]

LINA BO BARDI WANTS — subversion of society’s repressive structures. art to be sociable. recreation to be productive. the user to know their place in the world.
[The result --- ungainly structures. social condensers. buildings that become more meaningful with inhabitation]

Darryl Chen, 21 07 08

Today we are ruled by a tyranny of the new. An unflagging faith in progress has been a hallmark of pioneer Modernists of the early 20th century – and even earlier – and this is as felt now as ever given the speed at which we interact with our culture. (Speed it can be argued has even given way to the instantaneous). How the works of our hands will be judged by future generations is told in how our culture values past works of architecture that were performed with the same spirit of freshness and progress.


Darryl Chen, 21 07 08

One might think it impoverished at first glance, though scratching and enquiring deeper, we find not so much an economic fringe, but a slowly evolving urban model. Born in the glow of a new era which suddenly died out, it finds itself detached from its divorced parents, caught in the throes of puberty setting on quickly with all its attendant growing pains – a crisis of identity, new foreign growth where before there was innocently nothing, and the desire of becoming an adult being held in check by an energy to live for the moment. we traverse highways through the neighbourhoods at great speed. here, a windmill, an abandoned factory – evidence of a productive countryside, perhaps still active? but the dominant typology – a super-typology – the bare housing block sometimes 400 metres long, maybe 800…. Unlike in China where rigid planning laws align all developments east west to face the sun (for one side, at least), here in Mahzahl, communes take on a variety of different patterns. They are distributed in this vast open plain their configurations knowable like crop circles only to those who see them from above. The scale of this landscape makes ideal viewing from a fast moving car. It is a seductive cinematic experience.

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