Revisit the past to discover the cities of the future

Lancaster University.
Lancaster University.

What do we want from our cities in years to come? How should we plan our new urban landscapes?

To see where we are going, we must look at our past, so says a government report co-authored by Nick Dunn, professor of urban design at Lancaster University.

Prof Nick Dunn.

Prof Nick Dunn.

The Foresight: Future of Cities project, funded by the Government Office for Science, asked urban experts to show possible ways cities may develop in the next 50 years.

The aim is to provide a significant and coherent evidence base to help politicians make decisions about urban spaces to create the highly competitive economy needed for a sustainable and economically successful future.

No longer seen as problems to be solved, cities are being promoted as generators of cultural and economic wealth.

Prof Dunn has been invited to address the launch of an exhibition, showcasing his work and that of his co-authors, at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London tomorrow, Tuesday, February 10.

His work shows how cities have been imagined over the last century and visualized in a dynamic and impactful visual interpretation of the urban spaces in which we live, work and play to examine how and why cities have developed in the way they have.

Prof Dunn argues that with Britain recently announcing a new Garden City, we are returning to ideas borne over a century ago.

“But certainly there is evidence to show that the imagined cities of, for example, JG Ballard have played an equally important role in influencing urban design,” he says.

“The analysis of how we imagined future cities to be, and what our lives might be like within them, is culturally and socially significant.”

“As well as being relevant to ideas about urban form, such concepts and images are enduring and highly influential on how we view the present and beyond. At a time in humanity’s existence when more of us live and work in cities than ever before these issues are ever pressing.”

The exhibition at RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD, will run from February 10 to March 31.