Liam Young, 25 02 15

Available to download now- 1,49€ (iTunes), 1,78€ (Amazon)*

Brave New Now is a collection of specially commissioned short stories set in a fictional future city developed by speculative architect Liam Young for the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale. Authors have been invited to inhabit the city, to breathe life into its characters and cultures and give form to its streets and spaces through narrative. It is a speculative urbanism, an exaggerated present, in which we can imagine the wonders and possibilities of emerging biological and technological research. Authors include Warren Ellis, Bruce Sterling, Tim MaughanJonathan Dotse, Rachel Armstrong, Samit Basuand Anil Menon.  These speculative fictions are illustrated with a collection of photographs of the present, gathered from a group of photographers who venture out into the world documenting the weak signals and emerging phenomena that have been extrapolated into our imaginary city. In Brave New Now it is not clear what is fact and what is fiction, but rather the two productively intertwine.  The two modes of working sit side by side and we slip suggestively between the real and the imagined, between the documentary and the visionary, where speculative fictions become a way of exploring a world that the everyday struggles to grasp.

The future is not something that washes over us like water, it is something we must actively shape and define. Some of the people we meet in the Brave New Now are swept up in what the city could be, others are reserved and look on with caution. It is a place of wonder and of fear. We meet friends and strangers, we hear their stories, and we imagine our own life here. We have not walked these streets before, what things may come, in the Brave New Now.

Preview of ebook foreword

Brave New Now
Editor: Liam Young
Authors: Warren Ellis, Tim Maughan, Jonathan Dotse, Bruce Sterling, Rachel Armstrong, Samit Basu, Anil Menon.
Photographers: Michael Wolf, Greg Girard, Neil Chowdhury, Vincent Fournier, Thomas Weinberger, Charlie Koolhaas, Greg White, Daniel Beltrá, Victoria Sambunaris, Christina Seely, Brice Richard, Bas Princen.
Concept Art: Daniel Dociu, Hoving Alahaidoyan.

“A projective fiction is a critical tool that is both an extraordinary vision of tomorrow and a provocative examination of the pertinent questions facing us today.” Liam Young

This digital publication was commissioned by Close, Closer chief curator Beatrice Galilee, Art Direction by Zak Group and graphic design by Raquel Pinto.
*The support of The British Council has enabled a discounted distribution price of Brave New Now ebook.


Liam Young, 19 10 14

Opening on October 4th at Z33 in Belgium, Future Fictions. Perspectives on worldbuilding explores how contemporary artists, designers and architects relate to future thinking and imaging: from map-ping, questioning and criticizing, to developing complex visions about the structures and systems that may shape our life in the future. Tomorrows Thoughts Today’s Liam Young will première a 3 screen projection work ‘New City’, a series of near future city skylines. New City is a collaboration with the authors Jeff NoonPat Cadigan and Tim Maughan and musicians Coldcut.

With these visions/fictions, Z33 wishes to shift the debate away from what is possible, plausible and probable towards what is preferable: Future Fictions there-fore is essentially a project about ideas and ideals, about dreams beyond hope and fear. Can we learn to critically assess the future visions presented? Which criteria would be valid in doing so?  In other words, can we learn to become ‘future literate’? Other artists include Dunne & RabyAtelier Van Lieshout, Near Future Laboratory and many more. Curated by Karen Verschooren. Photo credit Kristof Vrancken/Z33


Liam Young, 10 02 14

At EYEO’s 2013 festival in Minneapolis Liam Young gave one of the closing kenote lectures. In a multimedia performance he takes the audience on a storytelling walking tour through the Brave New Now, an imaginary city, extrapolated from the wonders and possibilities of emerging biological and technological research. A place found somewhere between the real and the imagined, both achingly familiar and exceedingly strange, stitched together from fragments of distant landscapes and speculative designed fictions.


Liam Young, 09 02 14

Darryl Chen from Tomorrows Thoughts Today presented an extended stream of consciousness on Productive Dystopia as part of Failed Architecture #10 Beyond Failure at Trouw Amsterdam. Also speaking on the evening were Ole Bouman (Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture), Matthias Bottger (raumtaktik), Arjen Oosterman (Volume) and Mark Studholme (Archello) moving beyond ruin porn and blind futurism to discuss the benefits of failure.


Liam Young, 17 03 13

Tomorrows Thoughts Today’s Liam Young has been interviewed by We Made Money Not Art’s Regine Debatty for her ‘Artists in Laboratories’ radio programme on ResonanceFM. Each week Regine is in conversation with an artist, a hacker, a designer or a scientist discussing new art practices made possible by advances in science and technologies. Liam discusses his fictional city project Under Tomorrows Sky, the extreme landscapes of Unknown Field’s research expeditions and his upcoming Future Perfect exhibition at the Lisbon Architecture Trienal. You can listen to the interview here on sound cloud.

Liam has also been interviewed in Vienna by SpaceCuriosities’ Sandra Häuplik-Meusburger and Verena Holzgethan for Orange FM and the Cultural Broadcasting Archive. They discuss the value of the speculative project and the necessity for new forms of architectural culture to engage with the complexity of an anthropocentric world. Listen to the podcast here.


Darryl Chen, 20 10 12

Darryl Chen’s Mobile Mountain [MBL.MTN] project and essay “On Infrastructure” have been published in Architectural Inventions: Visionary Drawings. The Laurence King publication presents a arresting and awe-inspiring visual study of impossible or speculative structures. Highlighting visions that exist outside of established channels of production and conventions of design, Architectural Inventions showcases a multiplicity in concept and vision, fantasy and innovation. (more…)


Liam Young, 06 10 12

‘KINGDOM COME’.  Central America 2012 –

Download Kingdom Come Studio Brief

The Unknown Fields Division is a nomadic design studio run by Liam Young of Tomorrows Thoughts Today and Kate Davies. The studio ventures out on biannual expeditions to the ends of the earth exploring unreal and forgotten landscapes, alien terrains, and obsolete ecologies. Far from the metropolis lie the dislocated hinterlands that support the mechanizations of urban life. A city like London is thoroughly embedded in a global network of landscapes and infrastructures that are typically forgotten, unseen, ignored or only presented through particular media narratives. Each year we navigate a different global cross section and seek to map the complex and contradictory realities of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures. For Unknown Fields the journey is really about seeing our familiar world differently; we explore these alternative worlds as a means to understand our own in new ways, either through physical expeditions or the design of speculative future projects.

This year as the world of new agers, mystics and psychonauts pilgrimage south, Unknown Fields journeys with them to Central America to ponder the rise and fall of cities, civilizations, and empires, both ancient and modern, and to investigate the cultural and technological infrastructures that underpin them – a network of complex systems that have proved critical to their prosperity and ultimately often implicated in their collapse.

Empires rise and fall and the infrastructural traces they leave behind are evidence of their greatest dreams and their deepest fears. They are the remains of a speculative future, the skeletal frames of world building dreams, the ruled lines on a page soon to be filled with the goings on of a day soon to come. In this time of crisis the future is becoming a project again. As the Mayan long count calendar begins a new phase we will imagine what comes next.


Darryl Chen, 26 06 11

Excerpts from Darryl Chen’s Productive Dystopia essay in ‘Utopia Forever’:

“Our narrative is modernity, and our dystopias are the super-planned, re-planned and unplanned environments of the modern world. The aberrations and abandoned spaces of our modern environments, the margins that are squeezed by the excesses of development, the new natures that are produced in lieu of what was natural, the waste that is left behind after the flight of capital— these are the instable interstices of modern life. They are latent territories that are both the unforeseen consequences of our modern impulse, as well as the raw material for a renewed project on the city. (more…)


Liam Young, 18 10 10

Tomorrows Thoughts Today’s Liam Young and Liquid Factory’s Kate Davies have just launched the 10/11 Diploma 6 programme for their Unknown Fields Division studio at the Architectural Association. The studio outline is below.

‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ Arthur C. Clarke

This year the Unknown Fields Division continues to enter into new relations with the territories of science, nature and fiction. We explore the complex, rich and contradictory realities of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures and probe our preservationist and conservationist attitudes toward the natural world. In our  Galapagos Island studio we mused on evolution,  last year in the Arctic we contemplated the end of the world and now we look toward strange new beginnings as we embark on a voyage to bear witness to the reinvention of nature through technology in the Australian Never-Never. 

The Division will head off on a dust blown road trip across Australia, into the vast and mysterious interior of this remote island continent in search of its ancient tribal hinterlands and its vast techno-landscapes. This land of rich resources and sparsely inhabited expanses houses huge feats of engineering; technological incisions into the narrative landscape of the Dreamtime – the creation mythology of the indigenous Aboriginals. Stories and ceremonies of dreaming beings that once shaped the sacred sites of mountain ranges and river-beds are now spun with the ghosts of modern technologies. 

Here beneath the Southern Cross, telescopes listen to the beep-beep from alien worlds, solar arrays track the sun, observatories scan the Milky Way and all the while, machines harvest the earth for the precious ingredients of our daily lives. We will venture ‘out back’ into a hidden terrain – a strange landscape behind the scenes of modern living – visiting the vast mines of the interior, stalking mechanical beasts the size of buildings and exploring excavations the size of cities. Violent gestures of accelerated geology employed across these vast expanses create landscapes of erasure, excavation and re-articulation. Towering mountains of tailings, articulated valleys and vast lakes emerge from these incisions; re-made as new nature.  We will be both visionaries and reporters, critically engaged with the conditions of today through speculation about the coming of tomorrow. Clambering over the wreckage of the future, our architecture will operate in the no-man’s land between the cultivated and the natural: a new Dreaming for a new kind of wilderness.

Image credit: Space Project by Vincent Fournier


Darryl Chen, 06 11 09

Darryl Chen (Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today) and Elena Pascolo (Urban Projects Bureau) have just launched a unit in the Bartlett’s MArch Urban Design programme. Riffing on Colin Fournier’s overall course brief of Urban Fiction, we’ll be exploring the dark side of urbanism via a rigged Spanish Inquisition-like investigation of the spatial type. Download here, or read on….

Horse+Pig, Speedism


We find strangeness in the city all around us. Often the strangest and most flawed cities are the most compelling. From crime-riddled New York of the 70s, class-segregated Rio de Janeiro, hyperdense Hong Kong, and the synthetically artificial Tokyo, all are conditions of excess – often excesses of things that were good to begin with, but have become corrupted. Yet something about these cities makes them perversely attractive. Is it here we glimpse the true essence of urbanity? While we want to act upon the city with good intentions, there is no avoiding its byproducts, ruins, and failures. (more…)


Darryl Chen, 01 03 09

There is a received wisdom amongst 21st century urbanists that great damage was wrought upon cities by Modern Planning, with the 1933-penned Athens Charter as its Mein Kampf. Now, I don’t know about you, but I had never actually seen a copy let alone a referenced extract of this notorious text, all the while shaking my head at all the grade-separated pedestrian nightmares (sic), dysfunctional streets in the sky (double sic) and wastelands of open space under them (you get the picture). Never seen a snippet from the beast… until yesterday. (more…)


Darryl Chen, 04 01 09

Underrated urbanism par excellence. 1971 yielded a planning treatise that seems now to transcend its postwar era and enter the cut-up remixed world of the fantastic now in a way that Collage City only ever dreamt.



Darryl Chen, 19 12 08

With anxiety one of the themes of the early twenty-first century, it is worth revisiting Paolo Soleri and his Arcology projects of the tumultuous late-60s.

From Hexahedron, Mesa City and Babelnoah, these late-Modern and ecologically driven projects are much more than a foretelling of a clean-energy and resource-conscious future, than paint a paranoid vision of a future we perhaps now inhabit.





Darryl Chen, 27 07 08

[originally published in Architectural Review, Feb 2003]

Shanghai presents a unique almost control-model kind of urban subject matter among world metropolises. It is a city which after experiencing incredible economic prosperity through the turn of the nineteenth century froze its free market development under thirty years of failed socialist revolution, and then started again on an accelerating trajectory towards capitalist ideals. The city currently exists in a giddy state of equilibrium between government control and market forces, the monolithic state regime acting as a valve for releasing massive forces which would otherwise send the country into a multi-directional frenzy of socio-economic instability. (more…)


Darryl Chen, 21 07 08

Beijing is a north-south city – rational in its conception and linked to a fundamental cartesian logic. How can this clarity so evident in plan form – in its planning under a single eye – be so different to the experience of being on the ground? This is invariably an experience of not being on the surface of a geometric formation, but within a realm with extra-geometrical complexity – a spatial experience borne not out of a complex extrapolation of three-dimensional form, but a dense presence of phenomenonlogical factors.



Darryl Chen, 21 07 08


The Academy of Urbanism, the UK’s (affirmative) answer to the Congress of the New Urbanism, can only be the most visible hi-jacking of the field of urbanism by various groups of professionals purporting to represent urbanists, but actually limiting the field of opportunity.

View the Academy of Urbanism manifesto here