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 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.  This post presents the Future Perfect Wilds, developed by artists Cohen Van Balen through their project Nowhere a Shadow. Watch as we let a live wolf stalk the landscape of the city.

There is no nature anymore. We are wandering a new kind of wilderness, where the line between biology and technology is becoming increasingly indistinguishable. Through genetic modification, engineered meat, cosmetic surgery and geo-engineering we are remaking our world from the scale of cells to the scale of continents. The woods, wild and mysteri­ous from afar, appear as a stage on which every element is considered. Genetically engineered plants, artifi­cially sustained, are hanging from the trees, embedded in the ecology yet detached from it.

Their scaffolding systems of gleaming steel and neon light sway in the wind, waiting. Grey wolves approach the struc­tures during the night to scratch their body on the steel branches. In an intri­cate arrangement of devised symbio­sis, the contraption takes on the role of host organism. The wolf’s move­ments generate electricity for the system, while the blueberries are engineered to contain rabies vaccine in its fruit to protect the animal from self-destruction. Cameras transmit footage of the wolf’s presence around the globe, adorned in invisible garlands of elec­tric display, to be enjoyed by those whose passion for the spectacle of wilderness sustains its survival.



Liam Young, 11 06 12

Coal miners once hammered rock with twittering canaries living beside them, their changing song a warning alarm for a dangerous gas leak. These living sensors watched over us and kept us safe.

‘Singing Sentinels’ by London-based architect Liam Young of Tomorrows Thoughts Today explores a future scenario where bio-engineered birds once again monitor the air for us. Eighty birds have been released into the New Order exhibition at the Mediamatic Gallery in Amsterdam as an ecological warning system, living in the space and providing audible feedback on the state of the atmosphere. Across the course of the exhibition Liam performed the climate change acceleration piece ‘Silent Spring’ seen in the film above. As a ‘pollution DJ’, he flooded the gallery with CO2, altereing the air mixture to replicated the predicted atmospheric changes of the next 100 years. We hear the canary song subtly shift, their rythmn change and eventually silence, as the birds sing a toxic sky- an elegy for a changing planet.

To accompany the exhibition Liam Young, Geoff Manuagh and Tim Maly have written a near future birdwatchers guide “A Field Guide to Singing Sentinels: A Birdwatchers Companion” with illustrations from comic illustrator Paul Duffield. You can see an excerpt and purchase your copy of the limited edition book online here.

See below for exhibition photos.


Liam Young, 17 08 11

Tomorrows Thoughts Today is part of the summer exhibition at MU Gallery in Eindhoven NL titled ‘The Great Babylon Circus’ and curated by the Berlin based critic and curator Lukas Feireiss, author of the book ‘Utopia Forever’ also featuring a number of TTT projects.  The exhibition brings together a group of artists and architects to engage in “the continuation of the never-ending design of the Tower of Babel. The Tower of Babel is one of the primordial metaphors of architecture, art and construction, as well as of the multiplication and confrontation of diverse languages and styles. The tower also symbolizes the ultimate hubris of human creation — the ambition to build something larger than life itself.”

In addition to Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today, participating artists are Brazilian social and cultural collective Project Morrinho, Belgium-German art collective Speedism and Moroccan artist Mounir Fatmi. The collaboration of these four global creative practices in the arena of MU unite around the mythic Tower of Babel theme, presenting us with new angles from which to view this legendary subject, and arguing for its social, political, and cultural relevance in today’s world.

Tomorrows Thoughts today (in collaboration with Denis Vlieghe and Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu) have installed an expansive living landscape of moss and robotics. Set within the vegation is a array and strange and curious creatures of the near future. Born of the city’s electronic surplus yet now essential to the city’s function, these species of beings have emerged who warm, warn, entertain, annoy, and play. They have arrived unannounced, emerged from the remains of rampant and uncontrolled modernisation, and have been subsumed into the normal workings of the city. In fact, the city itself has become a singular sentient being constructed of these malformed and (d)evolved freaks — the city’s new infrastructure.

Corporate research and development divisions scrutinize the beings, playing technological catch up with this autonomous evolution, the invisible hand of progress. Field researchers now observe the specimens captured in a controled environment. Gazing over this curated landscape, a robot zoo, the researchers’ working hypothesis is that the distinction between the products and byproducts of modernity have disappeared, and it is this disappearance that defines our new urban territories. In addition to the familiar favourites from our Specimens of Unnatural History project, collected within the zoo are such new specimens as:

The Virtual Forest
Observation notes: A landscape of artificial trees flicker with a distant wind. The augmented forest is wirelessly connected to a wind sensor in the Aokigahara forest at the foot of Mt Fuji. Thought to be haunted the remote presence of the winds rustling through the trees in Japan now illuminates a virtual ghost wilderness. Two simultaneous landscapes connected across the globe.

Networked Rodents
Observation notes: Existing animals are hacked to create a roving sensor network across the landscape. Like the old canaries in the coal mine birds sense and detect levels of toxicity in the air, grey squirrels track their own pest populations to extermination, moths and butterflies become a micro spy infrastructure and others monitor and scan for subtle ecological shifts.

Goldfish Avatar
Observation notes: Sensors track a lonely goldfish swimming in a tank. It becomes the live input for an emerging digital simulation. The fish’s movements are translated into an endlessly evolving online avatar that continues long after it is flushed away. Across time a virtual ecosystem takes shape on the web. Soon the internet becomes more of a wilderness than the disappearing landscapes of the physical world, a strange zoo of virtual ghosts.

The Digital shadow
Observation notes: Feeding off ambient electro magnetic fields of the cities neon lights and communications networks these floating antenna harvest the airborne energy to power a broadcast of white noise. Clouds of these blimps cast an electronic shadow across parts of the city. Initially an experiment in energy harvesting this infrastructure is now just gets up to general mischief but unexpectedly it also has creates some of the only disconnected analogue spaces in the city, where one can steal a brief moment of digital silence.

Monitor drone
Observation notes: Relentless and obsessive the tracking eye of the monitor drones scan ambient conditions and is sensitive to minute fluctuations in vast arrays of environmental data. Flocks laser scan the landscape recording animal numbers and vegetation patterns as point clouds of digital data. Wilderness sites become large curated landscapes constantly managed and engineered to create a perfect simulation of nature in balance.

Photograpghs by MU and Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu


Liam Young, 09 05 11

From the Data Archaeology Lab in the Architectural Association’s Unknown Fields Division 09/10 Arctic Circle studio run by TTT’s Liam Young and Kate Davies comes Data Fossils by Tobias Jewson. Tobias has evolved his data fossils experiments from the intimate and personal attachments that calcify on our own bones into a vast digital geology of an internet archive cast into layers of volcanic glass across Iceland’s deserts. In the digital era our information no longer takes the form of the physical, but that of a electronic file stored in ‘the cloud’. Our collective history is quickly effaced from this fragile and ephemeral domain, a computer crashes, formats are quickly obsolete, a hard drive is lost and all is gone. With our attachment to physical objects and mementos becoming increasingly superseded by our relationship to information, what will we leave for future generations?

Our collective history can be deposited in columns and strata of earth – where once archivists trawled the library stacks, data geologists now roam the Icelandic landscape. Like climate records trapped in ice cores data archiving can also become a geological process. In southern Iceland the division found a ravaged landscape of eroding lava deserts- a desolate crust hiding beneath it extraordinary geothermal resources that now support huge investments in an emerging national industry of data storage and server farms. Data Geologies rehabilitate this damaged landscape by co opting these investments in technology and reimaging the Icelandic typology of data archives.

A suite of new software applications that subvert existing digital prototyping machines to encode the ephemera of the digital world into ever evolving architectural landscapes. Hoards of machines traverse the lava deserts, scraping loose sand from the surface, and under immense heat transforming it into elaborate glass like geometries, within which our recent internet activities are encased. Programs are developed to encode data inputs into structural building elements.

Simulation software is developed for the realtime growth of data geology from live twitter streams.

Informational topographies grow based and cluster on keyword inputs. The drugs keyword feed is especially active from late evening to early morning.

Topsoil blown by the harsh arctic winds soon gathers in the lee side of these immense structures, the grounded geological layer sprouting grass and moss. Over time, habitats will grow in the glimmering hollows as fields of data slowly reverse Icelandic soil erosion. Local Islanders read the growth of this landscape from afar, whilst archaeologists look close ,using advanced MRI scanners, searching for insights into our past. Information enthusiasts scan google earth sattelite images, deciphering geographies of data from across the globe.

People pilgrimage to this area known to hold the last data relating to flurry of internet activity from the day Michael Jackson died. It becomes an informational cathedral, a spatial obituary grown from a real time data feed.

And while tourists might flock to see history in the making archaeologists will read the dull fragments of frozen silica as records of our digital pasts.


Liam Young, 24 11 10

“Most technological breathroughs are met both with frenetic predictions of life-changing improvement, and fear and naysaying. Instead Geoff Manaugh, Tim Maly and Liam Young examine the myriad implications of future technological escalation by speculating about their consequences through believable (though fictional) examples ranging from chemical-sensitive fowl to transhuman support groups made possible by nanoengineering.” Volume. pg72. Issue 24 counter Cultures

This is one fragment from the work. See Volume no. 24 Counter Cultures for more from the Strange Natures of Nanotechnology.

A field guide to toxicity machines.
From The Macmillan Birder’s Guide to Britain v8.03.3453

Green-throated Coal-gull
Highlight: Sensitive to high levels of CO2 in the air.

Description: When in the presence of high levels of carbon dioxide, their plumage phase shifts to an extraordinary emerald color. Coal-gulls can be found in gathering around the remaining coal-burning power stations and carbon sequestration centers. Take a fire extinguisher with you to draw them out of the trees. Note that caution is necessary when calling and tracking these birds, as evidenced by the ongoing litigation against a BBC documentary team for frivolous chemical spraying.

Roseshift Starling
Highlight: Engineered to monitor atmospheric levels of nitrous oxide.

Description: Typically brown and forgettable at ground level, in the presence of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide the Roseshift Starling displays a fanned tail of extraordinary incandescent plumage that reflects in the sunlight. These rare species are best spotted in gas cloud flocks at high altitudes or over recently fertilized farmland. If you do encounter one on the ground, however, emptying a nitrous canister nearby will initiate its vivid display. These can be acquired from custom car garages or contact us for our private list of birding dentists.
NB. The guide does not encourage nitrous use for anything other than bird watching. We do not support the ‘laughing birders’ organization.

Bomb Sparrow
Highlight: designed for explosives detection

Description: Originally developed to signal the location of explosives labs, Bomb Sparrows flock in elaborate formations marking the atmospheric presence of chemically dangerous concoctions. Typically very difficult to track down, their formations are dispersed very quickly by British intelligence; making clear sightings quite rare. Your best chances are in the outer suburbs or anonymous tower blocks. If you are lucky enough to see an actual detonation, Bomb Sparrow flocks are extraordinary. But be careful: mixing your own chemical lures may result in prosecution under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Trumpeter Finch
Highlight: Sings in the presence of concentrations of carbon monoxide.

Description: This species typically makes its nest along busy highways and main streets. Listen out for the high-pitched song of the Trumpeter Finch when airborne particulate levels reach toxicity thresholds. Go in an SUV convoy for the best chance—and pack a gas mask to hear their song up close.


Liam Young, 02 10 10

This is an exerpt of the travelogue from Acres Green. See slow thoughts for the Beamer Bees, Mobile Mountains and Prosthetic Trees and more from this strange little community.  By  Anab Jain + Jon Ardern of Superflux, Liam Young + Darryl Chen of Tomorrows Thoughts Today and Chris Hand and the ‘Power of 8’ team.

At first the residents didn’t know what to call them. The once strange creatures had no name. Maybe there was a manufacturing code, or an RFID tag attached surreptitiously to their underbelly, but nothing official or as obvious as a logo like on a newly unveiled car. No motor show. No fanfare. They just arrived.

Their size was striking. Not that they were big, but that they were unsettlingly human in dimension, each specimen the equivalent mass of an adult man inflated into a rotund figure. Each displayed a great folded surface like unfurled wings spread into a complete and airtight enclosure. Manufactured with precision pleats and jointing expertly executed, the pristine body constituted an object equal to a small exploratory spacecraft or even a fine tailored suit. Its form had a quality of otherworldly beauty, but in recent years those once virgin husks were now marked with the deposits of airborne nuisances – carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, platanus acerfolia pollens and pigeon shit

A homage to the fog catchers that came and went before them, these sophisticated beings were appendages to the natural environment – microclimatic machines. Fastidious in their task of redistributing water, they were able to green small pockets of the ecosystem with workaholic obsession. Their great canopied bodies expanded to collect moisture and contracted to move more efficiently. Hovering the skies, they sought out humid air systems following low air pressure systems, collecting moisture on their outer skins and collecting them in their fuselage. They then deposited this rain – I suppose you could call it rain – on farmlands outside of cities. A promised land like an old testament morality tale. (more…)


Liam Young, 12 09 10

The Imaginarium is an exhibition co-curated by Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today and Studio Lukas Feireiss (editor of Beyond Architecture, Spacecraft and Architecture of Change etc) with Luis Berrios-Negron.  The exhibition brings together a group of architects, artists and scientists including TTT’s Liam Young, Francois Roche/R&Sie(n), Greg Lynn, Philip Beesley, Rachel ArmstrongTheo Jansen, Terunobu Fujimori, Triptyque ArchitectureIlkka Halso, Lucy McRae, Cero9Mas Yendo, and many more to engage the prescient subject of ecological change and adaptations caused by artificial interventions into existing ecosystems.

‘The Imaginarium’ is curated as an unnatural history museum of archaeological fragments,
 botanical samples, exhibits, evidence and curiosities. 
Archived in the accompanying Catalogue of Speculative Specimens we see a jump in the fossil record, an evolutionary leap, as the interbreeding of biology and technology has given birth to a strange new nature. The Imaginarium forms part of the exhibition Examples to Follow: Expeditions in Aesthetics and Sustainability curated by Adrienne Gohler. and is open from 3.09.10 – 10.10.10 at the Uferhallen in Berlin. See more photos and videos below.



Liam Young, 11 03 10

This is the second installent of a series of projects to come out of our Power of 8 research trip to ‘Acres Green: The Way Life Should Be’.

…the hypnotic dance patterns of small, glowing insects against the warm colours of the dark sky left us in awe, and we wanted to know more. We stopped two people dressed in large netted clothing walking down the street. They introduced themselves as ‘hivers’ and told us the story behind these mysterious creatures:

These glowing creatures were the Beamer Bees or Beamer Signum Apis Melifera, formulated by a community of biologists and hired bio-hackers to service under-pollinated trees, plants and vegetables due to the disappearance of honey bees.

The Beamer Bees are guided by radiowaves and electromagnetic landscapes to crops requiring pollination. They are produced in a limited number each year, and their interactions with the bumble bees and other creatures are tightly monitored. It seems that the Acres Green residents can buy licenses to call the bees. License holders use the bugles or other personal mobile devices which transmits radiowaves that the bees can detect. The bees follow the waves to their source.

We realised how the Beamer Bees had became central to the Acres Green ecosystem and people seemed to be able to live in harmony with them. We see a glimpse of one family’s everyday interactions with the new creatures. Practical, yet stylish netted fashion ensured comfort on the way to a party, Gardeners who missed out on licenses opportunistically used wifi routers to attract bees to their plants. (more…)


Liam Young, 09 03 10

The first installment of an ongoing project.  Chapter 1: the electric aurora.

In the preface to his 1957 bestiary ‘The Book of Imaginary Beings’ Jorge Luis Borges describes a child’s first visit to the zoo. With wonder and joy the child marvels at the strangeness and mysteries of the unfamiliar creatures that they have never before seen. This encounter with a zoo of the real sits within the catalogue of a zoo of mythology, inhabited by ‘necessary monsters’ which are imbued with the dreams and fears of those who conjured them. (more…)


Liam Young, 08 03 10

Darting to the safety of the shadows a biotech ferret munches on its prey…

The fourth installment of an ongoing project.  Chapter 4: the Bioluminescent Billboard, the Roving Forests and an Augmented Ferret. (more…)


Liam Young, 20 04 09

The role of landscape is evolving. Developing from a historical position based in conservation and preservation the ‘nature’ of ‘nature’ can now be seen as both generative and dynamic, offering the potential for new ways of engaging with the environment. The distinctions between technology and biology or the natural and artificial are dissolving to the point where they have now become outmoded terms.

Developing from Tomorrows Thoughts Today’s urban proposal ‘City Zoo’, ‘make me a mountain!’ is a standalone infrastructural landscape project.  Whether deployed in a backyard, on a football pitch or a fragile wetland the building mutates from its context to create a habitable ecosystem that (e)merges into and out of its site. More a wilderness than an architecture, ‘make me a mountain!’ operates as a synthetic organism, reinforcing the metabolic and symbiotic conditions found in the surrounding landscape.

In its first iteration the project is tested as a Bathouse, Visitor Centre and Research Station for a London Wetlands site. Like a scuttled ship molded fiberglass shells containing observation, education and research spaces perform as an artificial reef. Glistening from within the rough and lively rock of the artificial mountain is this intertwined set of sinuous and smooth public spaces. This is a dark, discovered, augmented wilderness embedded with technology for remote virtual bat viewing and arranged for intimate but unobtrusive onsite observation. (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.


Liam Young, 08 12 08

The third installment of an ongoing project.  Chapter 3: the Silk Factory.

Pulled by moths an automated nomadic silk factory is spinning its glistening web under a lonely streetlamp. (more…)


Liam Young, 02 11 08

The second installment of an ongoing project.  Chapter 2: the CO2 Scrubber (more…)


Liam Young, 21 07 08


Contemporary cities are no longer just accidental homes for animals that have been displaced from their natural habitat. They can now be seen as hotbeds of evolutionary change, shaping the adaptations of their resident fauna and providing an ideal theatre in which to see behaviour evolving at a pace rarely seen in the wild.

As we begin to view our cities as worthwhile ecosystems this project investigates the possibilities of a symbiotic relationship between two different systems of organization- technology and nature. (more…)


Liam Young, 21 07 08

Barcelona and the satellite city. Rethinking growth: Hyper-density and relational equilibrium

The project has recieved an honorable mention in the AA Prize for Unbuilt Work 2008

 you can view the reults and other entries here

This international architecture competition entry responds to a call for the rethinking of growth given a projected migration into the Barcelona region of 400,000 people over twenty years. Outcomes of the speculation are demonstrated into specific sites in Barcelona and the satellite city of Amposta, 2 hours from Barcelona by very fast train.