Liam Young, 06 03 10

I am pleased to announced that Wen Ying Teh and her project from the Menagerie studio at the AA ‘Necessary Monsters’ run by Liam Young and Kate Davies has been awarded the RIBA 2009 Bronze Medal. The studio have trawled the wilds of genetic modification, augmented bodies and neo biological invention to query today’s idealistic and preservationist views of the natural world. For three weeks we voyaged south, following Darwin’s expedition to the Galapagos Islands and South America. We discovered a precious and fragile wilderness teetering at the point of collapse, an ecology in crisis, bearing the scars of a ravenous tourist economy. Projects were developed in this context as critical tools to instigate debate and raise questions about architectural practice in relation to the social and political consequences of various environmental and technological futures.  Read below for an exert of the project or explore it in full on the RIBA website. (more…)

Darryl Chen, 21 12 09

DIY Urbanism makes a debut in this quarter’s Urban Design magazine – the voice of many an embattled professional urban designer and sourcebook for shared surface roads, character-based place-making and high quality inclusive public realm (among other para-governmental best practice design guidance).

The journal devotes its regular Viewpoint pages to the “cheeky? incisive?” TTT project which is otherwise featured on this site as “How to be a successful urban designer” (scroll down for that post in this column). (more…)

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…)

Liam Young, 19 10 09

This year’s edition of Liam Young’s and Kate Davie’s Intermediate 7 design studio at the Architectural Association has just launched. Read on for this year’s agenda and watch this space as last years ‘Necesary Monsters’ studio projects will be posted shortly.

The end of The World and Other Bedtime Stories

‘The End of the Universe is very popular’, said Zaphod… ‘People like to dress up for it… Gives it a sense of occasion.’ – Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

We stare out through Hubble at the light from the creation of the universe. At CERN we hurl electrons at each other looking for clues to its beginning only to set in motion our collective anxieties about our demise in black-hole oblivion. We sit in wait for the end of the world. We have always regaled ourselves with unnerving tales of a day yet to come. Tomorrow is a dark place and our culture is full of tales of a natural world out of control. Whether it be nuclear apocalypse, viral epidemic, tumbling asteroids or eco catastrophe our anxieties about our future demise chronicle the flaws and frailties of the everyday.

This year Inter 7 continues to slip suggestively between the real and the imagined, in the space where architecture enters into new relations with the territories of science and fiction. It is an experience of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures. Last year in the living wunderkammer of the Galapagos Islands, we explored the origin of the species and breathed life into a menagerie of architectural monsters. This year we will once again investigate our preservationist and conservationist attitudes toward the natural world but this time we embark on a voyage to bear witness to the alien landscapes of technology. We have mused on evolution and now we will flirt with extinction.

We will set forth on a psychedelic road trip, a last chance saloon tour of sites at their point of collapse. We will clamber over the wreckage of the future to visit a no-man’s land between cultivation and nature and spin a cautionary tale of a new kind of wilderness. Here the radio crackles, skies darken, the weather warms, grey goo seeps from between the cracks, mutant crops roam free – it’s a beautiful day in the strange landscapes that lie behind the scenes of modern living.

Our projects may be militant solutions or last gasp redemptions; a call to arms or a head in the sand; swan songs, manifestos or glorious celebrations in the shadow of an imminent end. We will be both visionaries and reporters, part documentary and part science fiction, we will critically engage with the conditions of today through speculation about the coming of tomorrow. Standing at the brink we will contemplate an end that is laden with fears and inconsistencies yet at the same time proves to be ripe with unknown escapes and wondrous possibilities.

“The collapse of the stellar universe will occur– like creation– in grandiose splendor.” – Blaise Pascal


Liam Young, 12 08 09

Another spinoff from the Thrilling Wonder Stories gig we co curated is this futurist menage e trois organised with Icon Magazine between TWS contributors architect Francois Roche, blogger Geoff Manaugh and graphic novelist Warren Ellis. It was edited and transcribed by Icon’s Justin McGuirk and William Wiles and is published in their september issue. Also check out the same issue for William Wiles review of Roche’s kinky new project ‘I’m Lost in Paris’. Read the full conversation after the jump.


Darryl Chen, 28 07 09

Last weekend the Watermans Gallery sponsored a kick-off event for the ‘Power of 8′ project. Opening up our discussion to the public, a steady stream of participants ranging from the radically activist to the playfully naive populated a main table with walking houses, snow stimulators, solar powered airships, public free boxes, new wireless connectivity and human spinning tops. More images here.


Liam Young, 09 07 09

On 14th July at the Barbican Liam Young hosted a screening of two amazing films, ‘Buckminster Fuller Meets the Hippies’ and ‘Counter Communities’, for the Architecture Foundation’s Architecture on Film series. See the Spaceship Earth and the Designer Guru website for film and event details. Liam wrote the following essay to accompany the screening.

Once Upon an Island: Utopian Cowboys, Guru Astronauts and Other Hopeful Tales of Misadventure

The hippies gather round, they sit together on the grass as Bucky holds court at their centre, waxing lyrical, a suited up,  button down island in a sea of beads, headbands, beards and cowboy hats. Children giggle, smoke and optimism fill the air and the crowd blows bubbles that float off, glistening like the geodesic domes of Bucky’s utopian dreams. The hippies had lots of questions and it appeared Buckminster Fuller had all the answers. He was a prophet, a counter culture guru, a mad scientist and maverick architect. For Guinea Pig B, as he came to call the experiment that was the fashioning of his own life, we are all astronauts on this great spaceship earth, and any individual has the capacity to change its course.


Liam Young, 09 07 09

The Thrilling Wonder Stories architecture and science fiction symposium curated by Tomorrow’s Thought’s Today’s Liam Young and BLDGBLOG‘s Geoff Manaugh has been uploaded so it can now be watched on demand as an onlne stream from the Architectural Association. The whole day is broken down into 4 videos. You can watch the first installment here or go to the index page for the others.


Darryl Chen, 24 06 09

Tomorrow’sThoughtsToday has been invited to participate in collaborative art project The Power of 8. The project seeks to bring together 8 future thinkers to speculate on an optimistic future. TTT is being joined by experts in the fields of nanotechnology, advertising, permaculture, psychology and political science, and is being brought together by designer and filmmaker Anab Jain. Outcomes of the collaboration will inhabit a West London gallery and will also travel overseas. Watch this space.

Liam Young, 21 04 09

You are either a DC fan or a Marvel fan. These two competing comic universes breed a strange kind of loyalty. Both have their own stable of celebrated heroes and reviled villains. DC writers have penned the adventures of Superman and Batman and Marvel has breathed life into the likes of Spiderman, Daredevil and the X-Men. Perhaps more intriguingly however, these two comic icons each have a very different approach to the rendering of the cityscapes in which their epic struggles of good and evil play out.

The DC atlas is made up of a universe of imaginary cities, worlds off the map, which can only be walked through the pages of their comics. Marvel heroes though, are always spotted flying through the streets of real cities, the familiar spaces that many of us mortals tread each day. DC invents extraordinary cities as stage sets for their stories, Marvel invents extraordinary stories that are staged in the everyday.  In different ways these two fictional worlds are expressions of our own dreams and fears, desires and frailties. They are reflections of the culture we aspire to, and the depths to which we see ourselves descending. (more…)

Darryl Chen, 08 04 09

J.G. Ballard could give up now. Dubai is quickly surpassing his dystopian imagination by conjuring this phenomenon from its maxed-out economy: There is now a subclass of western expats who having been made bankrupt from over-extended mortgages have been evicted from their gated villas, had their bank accounts frozen and are now seeking refuge in hotel carparks camped out in their SUVs.

Homelessness is not supposed to happen in this oasis where flowers bloom in the desert. Certainly not for white-collar executives who have been shipped in for the promotion, the tax-free paypacket, the lifestyle, the blissful unaccountability of expat life. Even in an economic downturn, we expect this savvy international class to have some fallback position, some funds back home, a legal safety net…. (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, 25 10 08

In ten easy steps, we show you how to prepare a regeneration masterplan report to match anything produced by professionals. Don’t know anything about urbanism? Hell, anyone can do it! Viva la DIY! Just click the images below. Pens ready? (more…)

Liam Young, 20 10 08

Invisible Man by Jeff Wall

“Going mad is the only way of staying sane.”  J.G.Ballard

In addition to the design studio I am running at the Architectural Association I am also running a studio with Paolo Zaide at the Bartlett school of Architecture.

 The Studio is titled Altered States. The studio outline follows.

Lost on strange islands suspended within the familiar spaces of the everyday is the vagabond troupe of DIY eccentrics, adventurers and malcontents who conjure their own atlas of Micronations. These fictional states vary in physical scale from the islands of 17th century pirate utopias, to an abandoned anti air craft tower in the middle of the North Sea or the sitting room of an anonymous flat in east London. ‘They merge fact, myth and speculation in their embrace of a parallel world, motivated by political subterfuge, legal loopholes, an immoderate love of royal titles, or a disenchantment with the commonplace.’*

This year Unit 6 will author our own archipelago of fictional states. We will navigate this critical space between the actual and the imagined, a space where architecture can enter into new relations with the territories of science and fiction. We will wander off the map, through the speculative landscapes of dreams and desires, on a future safari into brave new worlds that have mutated from our own. These projective states will actually be readings of the world we are now in, an experience of the present as a site of possible futures. Projects will slip suggestively between mistakes, myths and lies – a ‘combinatory capacity’ of infinite and unsettling possibilities. (more…)

Liam Young, 21 09 08

This is Gurmail Virdee’s student project form a Diploma Thesis studio I ran last year. The project was just submitted as a silver nominee for the RIBA Presidents Medals. you can view the entry online here. An extract from his work follows.

The project is developed as an experiment in the tangible applications of complex system theory by designing an intelligent, collective corporate organism.

Scripting and animation studies inform the swarming and parasitic behaviour of a designed ecology of schizophrenic robots. By responding to daily, weekly and seasonal cycles the robots aggregate to create volumes and surfaces supporting both the corporate and public life of the surrounding city. The result is a ‘strange nature’ of emergent species, a bio-artificial wilderness of interactive environments and habitable digital landscapes.

Design strategies are tested in the real context of Wall Street, across three ascending scales, from the individual robot specimens and their local interactions to the generic office floor plate and ultimately the adjacent New York streetscape.

It is an intriguing project that poses questions and probes uncertain possibilities. It is both unfamiliar and novel but also unquestioningly relevant and architectural.

Liam Young, 11 09 08

anthony crossfield_foreign bodies

Foreign Bodies by Anthony Crossfield

 “Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century.” J.G. Ballard

This year I will be running a design studio at the Architectural Association in London with Kate Davies from Liquidfactory. Work from the studio will be posted as it develops. 

The studio begins by exploring the dark menagerie that inhabits the pages of Borges’ “Book of Imaginary Beings”.  This register of curious specimens forms a zoo of mythology, a miscellany of ‘necessary monsters’ that are imbued with the dreams and fears of those who conjured them.  These monsters inhabit both the realms of nature and culture ‘slipping suggestively’ between the actual and the imagined – a ‘combinatory capacity’ of infinite and unsettling possibilities. 

Necessary excursions into myth and play can disrupt the surface of the familiar to reveal gaps of useful uncertainty.  We can then wander off the map, through the speculative landscapes of science fiction, on a future safari into brave new worlds that have mutated from our own.

The studio will navigate this critical space between the real and the imagined, a space where architecture can enter into new relations with the territories of science and fiction.  Surveying fields whether literary, biological or electronic and experimenting with devices such as futurology, film and gaming you will be encouraged to consider the mythic dimensions of emerging technologies as a way of critically engaging with the conditions of today and the coming of tomorrow. (more…)

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, 26 07 08

SCENE 1: The eurostar brakes in a slick building etched from the streamlined contours of the supertrain in flight – fellow passengers are funnelled into single file behind you for effective processing – durable granite paving sets are the perfect foil for every kind of advertiser’s indecent exposure – and beyond… just beyond you can sense a shape, a crowd, a sudden roar of international bloodsport, a sign that your games are about to begin.


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.


Liam Young, 21 07 08

Archibett Veterinary Cente. Photo by Scott Burrows

Taking advantage of global networks and blurred boundaries between suburb and city, archibett’s brisbane veterinary specialist centre is a productive addition to ideas of the ‘local’.

view the full article online at Archiecture Australia

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


Liam Young, 19 07 08

Watson house. Photo by Richard Stringer

The commitment to form. A small house by andrew wilson explores complex relationships between image, figure and experience, and the potential of contemporary country life.

 view the full article online at Architecture Australia

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