Future Cities: Imagining Urban Green Space in Fiction and Planning

Washbourne, C-L;


Future Cities: Imagining Urban Green Space in Fiction and Planning.


Presented at: Forming the Future, Plymouth, UK.


There is no lack of vision for the future city. Since our early days as an urban species, we have crated stories and images to reflect our wildest imaginings of cities of curious form, in magnificent settings; underwater, in the sky, even other planets. But to what extent does this great corpus of art and fiction on cities relate to the planning and building of real urban spaces? In our day to day lives we frequently see representations of cities ‘yet to be’, often in quite prosaic settings; printed across hoardings for new developments and buried in the pages of lifestyle magazines. Increasingly these aspirational images include open and green spaces, but these do not always seem to come from the same inspired minds as the modernist buildings that surround them. Preliminary work by the proposer has sought to understand the way in which we currently imagine urban green space in cities and how these visions are presented through different media formats. This approach takes two routes: 1) A brief overview of urban green space in futures fiction (fiction, film, visual art) – noting the scope of description and any major themes to which this is often allied (i.e. wildness, utopia) 2) A reflection on depictions of urban green space in contemporary planning documents and the consultative and marketing materials related to these (text, images) – noting the scope of description and any common themes to (1) The proposed session seeks to explore the prevailing ideas around urban green space in future cities and the extent to which the creative visions of real cities is (over)influenced or limited by expectations of what is socially desirable and what is physically or economically possible. It considers possibilities for using fiction to push the boundaries of urban planning, influencing creative and transformational urban planning for green space particularly in participatory planning exercises.

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