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 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]

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