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Canals? Drones? Mars getaways? Imagine the Future of Cities with an Immersive Model from Chatham House’s SNF CoLab

A public fountain that doubles as a drinking fountain. Urban waterways to cope with rising seas. A Mars Expo advertising a five-year emigration scheme for the Red Planet.

As cities in many parts of the world shake off pandemic-induced restrictions and their residents wonder what has changed forever, a leading UK think tank provides an interactive tool for considering possible features of our future cities.

From the mundane, to the seemingly fantastical, to the place where the two meet, Futurescape London, a project from Chatham House’s SNF CoLab, offers an immersive vision of what Central London might look like at four points over the next hundred years. The goal is not to try to predict what the future will actually hold, but rather to spark conversation around what a positive, sustainable future for cities might look like. More than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and the model is a way to explore what we want those cities to accomplish for us.

Explore Futurescape London

The imaginative project sits at the intersection of three major areas of focus in the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s (SNF) grantmaking: First, helping champion the creation and activation of vibrant, forward-looking public spaces like the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, and Lincoln Center. Second, helping foster open discussion about the pressing civic issues we face today and will face tomorrow through platforms like the SNF DIALOGUES. And third, supporting organizations like the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Chatham House in producing research and expert analysis to inform public and private decision-making around key questions.

The result is a digital space grounded in analysis of current scientific, technological, and social trends that encourages us to react, discuss, and better understand our hopes for our shared physical space.

The SNF CoLab, which created the Futurescapes London model, aims to make Chatham House’s insightful policy research more readily accessible to a wider public. It was established through a landmark 2019 Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) grant that created the London-based think tank’s SNF Wing.