The Ideal City 2040 at the Barbican
Photo — Lorenzo Zandri
As part of the new Barbican exhibition, Our Time on Earth, we imagine The Ideal City 2040 — a fictional, utopian tomorrow where cities exist in harmony with nature, and improve our environment and quality of life.
Our biggest challenge today is how to meet the needs of all people within the means of our planet. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released on 4 April 2022, cities are at the heart of the problem. That means they are also at the heart of the solution.
More than 55 percent of the world’s population lives in cities. Another 1.5 million people move into cities every week. We have an unprecedented opportunity to rethink, adapt and design our cities to be places that feel better for more people — and for our planet.
We have all the knowledge we need. So how can we put it into action?
About The Ideal City 2040
In 2021, we teamed up with gestalten to publish The Ideal City and reimagine the cities of tomorrow. Speaking with designers, researchers, technologists, community leaders and city planners, the book showcases inspiring solutions for a better everyday life for both people and the planet.
For The Ideal City 2040, we extend these projects and perspectives beyond the page and weave them together in virtual reality. We collaborated with Modem, Set Snail, Studio Rowan Siriram, and artists Manshen Lo, Wanjira Kinyua, and Sébastien Plassard to create an interactive installation that guides visitors through three speculative environments — the Coastal City, the Garden City, and the Solar City.
These envisioned futures highlight how cities in different bioregions might take localised approaches to address the climate crisis — and how we can get there together.
The Ideal City 2040 can be viewed at the Barbican Centre in London as part of the exhibition, Our Time on Earth, from 5 May until 29 August 2022.
About the exhibition
A major exhibition melding art, science, design, music, technology and activism, Our Time on Earth invites visitors to consider Earth as a community we all belong to. Sharing diverse perspectives on how we can better live together amid the climate emergency, this dynamic exhibition by the Barbican presents a hopeful lens on our future.
Interactive experiences, immersive installations and digital works come together to present radical visions and possibilities for the ways we live.
SPACE10 is honoured to be part of Our Time on Earth and exhibiting alongside Tin & Ed, Julia Watson, Selvagem, Liam Young, George Monbiot, and Superflux, to name a few.
About the collaborators
Modem is an office for design and innovation, designing for resilience in times of exceptional change. Modem works as a hybrid between a think tank and design studio to anticipate and respond to new and emerging futures.
Wanjira Kinyua is a designer and illustrator based in Nairobi. Her previous clients include CNN Style, Airbnb, and Google. Inspired by everyday subjects, she takes a historical approach to her illustrations and aims to create worlds within them.
Manshen Lo is a visual artist living in London. Her minimalist compositions investigate the subtle tension between humans and urban space. Previous clients include Pentagram, Bloomberg Businessweek, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and MTV.
Sébastien Plassard is an illustrator based in Paris, who has previously collaborated with Télérama, GQ, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. Cinematic and surreal, his drawings narrate the absurdity and contradictions of the everyday.
Set Snail is an experimental development playground and indie games studio. Based in Denmark, the team helps agencies and companies create exciting and playful interactive experiences across all sorts of digital media.
Studio Rowan Siriram is a design studio focusing on spatial design, light installations and odd furniture. Inspired by the preservation of cultural heritage and sci-fi movies from the early 2000s, they create multisensory, scenographic experiences and structures.