Liam Young, 10 03 14

Future Perfect is a fictional, future city. A think tank of scientists, technologists, designers, artists and science fiction authors have collectively developed this imaginary place, the landscapes that surround it and the stories it contains. The think tank included futurist Bruce Sterling, author Warren Ellis, scientist Rachel Armstrong, and many more. You can watch the public think tank archived on the projects vimeo channel. The following series of posts presents the Future Perfect exhibition- a stage set for a collection of fictions, movie set models, emerging infrastructures and design experiments that can be inhabited as immersive districts of the future city.  In this introductory post which outlines the vision of the project we see the early concept art developed with Daniel Dociu and Hovig Alahaidoyan.

Emerging in the shadows of the decaying towers of a post oil Dubai, geo engineered by climatologists and influenced by the imminent economic boom of the Indian subcontinent it is a terraformed urban island. A city that grows intuitively, a creature, living, breathing and computing, a seething ecology that is evolving as a new metropolitan megaform. A speculative urbanism, an exaggerated present, where we can explore the wonders and possibilities of emerging biological and technological research and envision the possible worlds we may want to build for ourselves.

For the future is not something that washes over us like water, it is a place we must actively shape and define. Through fictions we share ideas and we chronicle our hopes and fears, our deepest anxieties and our wildest fantasies. Some of us will be swept up in what the city could be, others will be reserved and look on with caution. We have not walked these streets before, what things may come, in a Future Perfect.

The future at the intersection of science and fiction

Using fiction as a speculative tool in conjunction with scientific research to probe the outer reaches of the realm of possibility, project collaborations were forged between designers, research divisions and authors to develop a constellation of five works and accompanying short stories that make up the districts of Future Perfect.

In the exhibition, visitors are invited to wander through them, reading messages embedded in the landscape, witnessing the increasingly responsive processes through which the city grows, self-regulates and communicates, scrutinizing a hybrid atmosphere where natural and man-made, digital and material, fact and fiction, become increasingly indistinct.

Bots drift across this inhabited geology, a dense accumulation of crevice rooms, and public valleys. Through the strata is threaded the tendrils of a complex circulatory system that feeds the moist surfaces of a vibrant endemic ecology where nature and technology intertwine and biology becomes a new economy. Supercomputers whistle and whir; a virtual city, a parallel city overlaid directly onto the physical turns everything into interface, everything into program. The city watches on, breathing, blinking.

Visitors begin their tour at the edges, in THE WILDS of the city. A new bioengineered species of pharmaceutical plants glisten under the light of its neon suns. Next they pass THE LOOMS, and their heads brush the webbed canopy of cable bots as they hum and spurt their nozzles across a section of virgin ground. It is a city that is grown rather than built, a computed territory, faceted and abstracted, endlessly reprinting itself as demand requires. Visitors push past a laser-scanned mountain in THE SUPERCOMPUTER as its radiant digital landscapes become more real than the ground beneath them. They gesture and a ghost iceberg parts, they wander through beyond the printing pools of THE GARMENT DISTRICT and the digital prosthetics hanging out to dry. As they come to THE LOOKOUT, Future Perfect unfurls in luminous detail in front of the visitors. They watch children playing running through the streets while the city struggles to keep up.

The short stories of Future Perfect have been collected in “BRAVE NEW NOW”, a book of original fictions set in the imaginary city and photography works. The ebook will be available for purchase shortly from close-closer.com and from the Apple and Kindle stores.

“BRAVE NEW NOW” features original fictions by Rachel Armstrong, Bruce Sterling, Tim Maughan, Warren Ellis, Anil Menon, Jonathan Dotse, Samit Basu and photography by Victoria Sambunaris, Michael Wolf, Greg White, Neil Choudary, Vincent Fournier, Dan Holdsworth, Thomas Weinberger, Brice Richard, Daniel Beltrá, Christina Seely, Greg Girard, Bas Princen, Charlie Koolhaas.

Future Perfect was produced for the Lisbon 2013 Architecture Triennale and is an evolution of Under Tomorrows Sky developed with MU, Eindhoven.

[Image Credits: All images by Hovig Alahaidoyan except image 3 +4 by Daniel Dociu]


Liam Young, 06 10 12

Under Tomorrows Sky is a fictional, future city. For MU Foundation in Eindhoven Speculative architect Liam Young of the London based Tomorrows Thoughts Today has assembled a think tank of scientists, technologists, futurists, illustrators and science fiction authors to collectively develop this imaginary place, the landscapes that surround it and the stories it contains. Working with special effects artists from such films as Alien, Sunshine and Blade Runner, the architects of Tomorrows Thoughts Today have built a room sized movie miniature model of the city.  Across the course of the exhibition invited guests will work with the city as a stage set to develop a collection of narratives, films and illustrations. Wander through this near future world and explore the possibilities and consequences of today’s emerging biological and technological research. The team includes Bruce Sterling, Warren Ellis, Rachel Armstrong, Daniel Dociu, Paul Duffield, Factory Fifteen, ARC magazine, Centre For Science and Imagination and many more. Follow the project website to see all the concept art imagery, the think tank discussions and photos of the exhibition.

Under Tomorrows Sky concept image by Factory Fifteen


Darryl Chen, 07 11 09

A full house at TINAG’s Festival of Urbanism witnessed a healthy debate over whether dystopia offers us a productive way of looking at the future. Chaired by Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today’s Darryl Chen, a strong cast of emerging and seasoned urbanists responded to the topic with an incredibly broad range of projects. Click the vid for an introduction to the theme. Full documentation will be included in a forthcoming Critical Cities volume. But for now, here are some (out of context) highlights from the discussion: (more…)


Darryl Chen, 04 09 09

This project witnesses the result of the London Borough of Sutton’s desire to form England’s first “sustainable suburb” in the outer reaches of Greater London. What was first a twinkle in a councillor’s eye led to Sutton’s local government to write a policy document safeguarding Hackbridge as a showcase of carbon-positive living at the scale of the urban district. Sped by compulsory purchases and decanting of a small handful of resistant residents, the process gained more and more momentum until the milestone formation of the Green Grass Management Trust. First functioning as a para-governmental management arm of the fledgling district, the Green Grass MT gained in stature to be a renegade local government in its own right. As more and more people signed up to live within the confines of the newly established urban Ring, the Green Grass MT became less reliant on government subsidies and eventually became untouchable as a political entity, much to the quiet chagrin of local planners and councillors. Officially a special policy area under the umbrella authority of the borough, the Ring is now in actuality independent and self-sufficient in all respects.



Darryl Chen, 03 09 09



Darryl Chen, 02 09 09



Darryl Chen, 29 08 09

“Where The Grass Is Greener” documents a radical alternative in contemporary living, an urban infrastructure, a social experiment, a political statement…. Three thousand residents and counting. In London’s outer suburbs, a community has gathered walling themselves off from the rest of society. These postcards bear testament to their vision. (more…)


Darryl Chen, 06 04 09

In the outer suburbs of London, a population has voluntarily separated themselves from the rest of society, and has taken up the mantle of sustainability in an extraordinary way. Driven by a set of ethics that places them in sometimes radical opposition to the rest of London, they have adopted a lifestyle that effectively makes them a carbon sink for the remainder of the city.

Postcards bear witness to how existing geographical patterns have been consolidated to create a giant infrastructural ring containing a series of productive and social programmes. Comprised of terraforming, hybridised architecture, natural obstructions and electronically surveilled barriers, this sophisticated urban crust is a new kind of urbanism – a fortress that protects a community of carbon-positive altruists, and reserves a place within the disorderly fabric of suburban London for pure ideology… where the grass is greener.

‘…where the grass is greener’ by Tomorrows Thoughts Today will be published in full shortly.